General Question

janbb's avatar

Should I speak up or hold my tongue (details inside)

Asked by janbb (59333points) April 8th, 2012

I was just visiting with a nephew and his wife who have a two year old. On this and a previous visit, I’ve noticed to my consternation that they don’t always put her in her car seat. When they feel she is tired, the mother will sit in the back with the little girl on her lap. Always being in a car seat was one of my few cardinal rules when I was a parent of young kids and I feel this is really dangerous. If it were my son, I would definitely say something to him about my feelings. Should I to my nephew to whom I am quite close or should I butt out?

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44 Answers

JustPlainBarb's avatar

I think you really have to… for the child’s sake.

They have to expect to get flack from that… it’s a safety law for a reason!! I wouldn’t feel badly about saying something!

YARNLADY's avatar

By law, every state requires that children be placed in a safety seat AT ALL TIMES. Refuse to ride with them if the child isn’t properly restrained.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

This is a sticky situation. I would say something to the effect that should they be stopped by the police, they are risking a ticket by not having the child in her seat.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Maybe this is just my state’s law, but we have to have kids in a child’s seat until they’re 8 here, and the punishments are high for not following. So maybe you could look into your state’s laws, and then say something like “You know you can get a 6-point, $750 ticket, misdemeanor ticket for not having her in her car seat? If you get pulled over, there’s no way to put her in the back seat really quick.” That way, you’ve voiced concern, but not in a way that judges their parenting choices.

janbb's avatar

I get what you all are saying but I feel like it would carry more weight and be more sincere if I told them my real concerns – which are for safety. Maybe I should write an e-mail about it?

Jeruba's avatar

Do you believe that they’re unaware of the law and/or the safety issues?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Please speak to them about this. Imagine the guilt you would feel if something happened to the toddler and you hadn’t raised your concerns.

Since you are close to the nephew, why not ask him about it? They must have a reason why they would not only intentionally break the law but endanger their daughter’s life. The comment that the child is sleepy doesn’t cut it. After all, kids sleep in their car seats all the time. I’m sure that you can word it in a way that doesn’t put him on the defense. Get him to think about the “What if?” scenarios.

Just out of curiosity, does the mother wear a seat belt when she is in the back seat with the daughter?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

You have to say something. If they have never been in a car accident they have no clue of the forces involved. I had a 3500 pound car spin around twice and rollover at least halfway, maybe 1 & ½ times in the air. What’s the odds she’s going to hold the baby in that? No one rides in my car unrestrained.

janbb's avatar

@Jeruba It’s hard to believe that they would be unaware.

flutherother's avatar

That is difficult. This is what the law says. Personally, I would feel I had to say something but it would have to be done tactfully.

Trillian's avatar

The child can survive being tired. Can she survive being thrown around during a crash? That’s how I would put it to them. Seems ridiculous in the extreme to NOT properly restrain a cild based on that. Safety rules are developed for very good reasons, and to overlook one based on “she’s tired” is logically insupportable.

john65pennington's avatar

You know what you have to do. You now have our backing, so tell him.

Their child will thank you.

janbb's avatar

Yup – @john65pennington, you are quite right.

Buttonstc's avatar

The link below is only one incident of severe injuries from a child sitting on parent lap. I’m sure you can find several others. If you print them out and ask him to read it on the spot that may give better context to your voicing of concerns.

Seeing it in front of him may focus him more on the issue. And your explanation of concern for hI’m and his child will be less likely to be interpreted as meddling.

After that, its his call but you have voiced your sincere concern.

And to point out the obvious in case he raises it, this incident was in the front seat, but the back is no safer. Either could result in the child’s death.

SuperMouse's avatar

I clicked on this question thinking I would say to hold your tongue. Now that I have read the details I don’t think you have a choice but to say something. You could direct your nephew to for more information.

janbb's avatar

Ok – nephew just IMd about something and I asked him to call me. He is going to call in the morning. Oy vey!

Yes, I must say something and will. I’m almost sure they won’t be mad but it is tricky.

cookieman's avatar

You’re a sweet penguin-auntie. How could they possibly be mad? I figure the worst he’ll do is be mildly annoyed and ignore your request.

Best of luck flippers.

janbb's avatar

thanks – will update.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Yes, you definitely need to say something. I hope the conversation goes well tomorrow. (((hugs)))

zenvelo's avatar

yes, tell them. And tell them the child will sleep better in the car seat. But the child’s safety is most important. Maybe tell them you wouldn’t say anything if it was just them but because it’s the baby you have to speak up.

marinelife's avatar

“Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 – 14, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2009. Research shows that as children age, they are less likely to be in the appropriate child safety seat for their age and weight. But, correctly used child safety and booster seats are extremely effective and reduce the risk of injury and death in crashes.”

Safe Kids

Bellatrix's avatar

I haven’t read all the responses above @janbb but I think you should say something. I see children not in their child seats and I view it as being a form of child abuse. We are responsible for those little people. In an accident, that child will become a missile and is very likely to be more seriously injured. I think I would focus on how you would feel if that happened and you didn’t say anything for fear of offending them. If they choose to take it as being interference, you can’t control that. Perhaps though, even if they do get snarky with you, they will hear your voice when they go to leave the child out of its car seat on the next journey.

janbb's avatar

@Bellatrix Yes – thank you. I actually think it will go fine; we have a very good relationship, I am just loathe to rock the boat. But I agree, this must be said.

jca's avatar

No way around having to say something and glad you agree! We look forward to the update!

The Update Lady

gailcalled's avatar

I vote also for saying something. Every time you speak your piece, you will be building a skill that becomes easier and easier, my little penguin.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Dear friend, this is a case where you need to rock the boat, so good for you to requesting the opportunity to talk to the nephew vs. sending an e-mail. You need to open up the dialog in this sensitive situation. He may have a reason, albeit invalid, for allowing this to happen. Asking him to think about the possibility of an injury, or worse, might wake him up.

Confrontation is difficult for many people. It takes skill to get the message across effectively, and even then, it doesn’t always result in the way it should. Don’t let this statement deter you from talking to the nephew. He and his wife both need a person with a practical state of mind to intervene.

augustlan's avatar

Oh, man. I don’t think I could restrain myself no pun intended from saying something. Pretty sure I would have a panic attack in a car with an infant or toddler who wasn’t in a car seat. That would make me crazy with worry! Best of luck with this, girlie.

whitenoise's avatar

Say something, but say it once. It is not your responsibility.

You can lead a horse to the water, but you cannot make it drink.

YARNLADY's avatar

I want to be honest here – I have been in the car with my DIL when the baby was crying so, I allowed her to take him out of his seat and breast feed him. I believe there are some times when a responsible choice has to be made in favor of the baby.

augustlan's avatar

@YARNLADY I think the responsible choice in favor of the baby is to keep a child in a proper car seat at all times. In my opinion, crying, hungry babies are preferable to dead ones, in all circumstances.

Buttonstc's avatar

Why not pull over and take a break to allow her to breast feed and then continue on later. This way you have a happy baby as well as one who is safe from harm?

If you’re the driver the you’re the one in charge.

wilma's avatar

I have managed to breastfeed my baby while he was safely strapped in his car seat and we were moving down the road. (No I was not the driver!)
I was also seat-belted, but had the shoulder strap down under my arm instead of in it’s proper place. It is not easy, but did calm my crying baby.
A couple of truck drivers probably got something to call home about, but I don’t really care about that when my kid is screaming.
If there is someone in the back seat to comfort the child, then taking them out of the car seat is not necessary. If more needs to be done than can be done while the baby is strapped in, then the car needs to stop.

janbb's avatar

OK – he called and we talked. I didn’t belabor it but I did strongly express my feelings. He wasn’t angry but he was a little defensive (“we do it very rarely”). He agreed with me but I’m not 100% sure they’ll change. I do think he’ll talk to his wife about it. I’ve done the best I could.

Trillian's avatar

Thing only takes once. And it can happen so fast. I hope with you @janbb .

cookieman's avatar

@janbb: That’s all you can do. Nice job penguin.

@wilma: You should tell that same story, but say you were also driving. That would be amazing! :^)

jca's avatar

@YARNLADY: How is having a baby not in their car seat a “responsible choice?”

gailcalled's avatar

@YARNLADY: How hard is it to pull over, stop the car and then have your DIL nurse the baby (unless you are on the Indiana 500 speedway, which seems highly unlikely)?

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
whitenoise's avatar

Maybe I am not American enough, but shouldn’t we also keep things in perspective?

It seems to me that most of you are overvaluing the effect of the car seat and the risk that imposes on the child compared to other day-to-day choices.

Such as carrying your baby up the stairs, or living in a area with back yard pools.

Have a look at this ?

Response moderated
YARNLADY's avatar

@augustlan @Buttonstc @gailcalled Very Good Advice – We did pull over as soon as it was possible, on a long, long freeway trip.

I like the thought of @wilma breast feeding while the baby is strapped in. – Good for you.

@whitenoise Well, it is the law, and according to what I have read, there are thousands of fewer deaths since the laws went into effect.

jca's avatar

@whitenoise: I am not sure I understand the point about carrying babies up stairs or living in an area with pools (which, by the way, by law must be enclosed with a fence). Are you saying we shouldn’t use car seats because babies can be harmed if we drop them when we walk up steps or by drowning in pools? Why not try to reduce as much risk as possible?

cookieman's avatar

See, here’s the thing about holding your tongue – its wet. And sometimes slippery, so it’s hard to hold. Also, if you hold it for too long, you’re arm will get tired. Not too mention, you now only have one arm free and… you can’t speak very well.

So no, I don’t recommend holding your tongue.

whitenoise's avatar

@jca All I am saying is that risks are part of life and we should be holding back on condemning people merely of occasionally not using a child seat. Especially if the effectiveness of these devices are limited. Of course you should use them. The alternative however is not certain death.

Would you feel the need to correct people that take their babies up and down a flight of stairs, while not holding on to the handrail?

To me, sometimes I feel that American people are a bit strange on topics like this.

Child seats… we need to use them since we need to avoid all risks.
Yet there are a lot of activities by parents aimed at children with far more substantial risks that are defended as an elementary part of the American lifestyle. And I refuse to tie that topic in here in more detail, since that would surely derail this thread.

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