Ask the Readers: Speaking Up

What do you do when you observe an uninformed parent putting her child in danger?

No one likes unsolicited advice, especially when it comes to parenting. Strict routines work for some families, and not for others. Breastfeeding works for some mother-child pairs, and not for others. Discipline comes in as many flavours as there are children in the world.

However, there are times that it’s difficult, perhaps even immoral, to stay quiet.

My husband and I recently observed a young mother picking her child up by the head. Her thumbs under the baby’s ears, her pinkies at the base of his neck, she lifted his entire body to kiss him gently on the forehead. His body swung from the neck. To us, this screamed of possible cumulative spinal injury. We communicated our concerns to the mother. Her response was, “I don’t see the problem. I do this all the time.” We found some documents on spinal injuries in babies and gave them to her, although nowhere were we able to find a clear directive forbidding this sort of lift.

We may have very well destroyed our relationship with this mom, whose son we adore, but we couldn’t have lived with ourselves if we didn’t say something.

What would you have done?

3 thoughts on “Ask the Readers: Speaking Up

  1. I would have done the same thing! I am a first time mom to 4 month old twin boys and as much as I dislike unsolicited advice (because most of the time it is unwarranted and wouldn’t help me anyways) if I was ever doing something in which I could unknowingly injure one of my babies I pray one of my friends would say something. She may be frustrated for a little while because as moms (especially new moms) it is hard when someone seems to question your mothering, but I think in the end she will realize you said something because you cared.

  2. I don’t know if I would say something in this particular case as I am not convinced it is really dangerous. That’s how we used to carry goat kids in the farm, hehe. OF COURSE it is not the same thing, but the way you described it made it sound careful enough and if there is no pain, I don’t know.

    Now, for the question per se, I say it depends. if I think the person is interested enough I will say something. For instance, here in Brazil only last year car seats became mandatory. Still, it is common to see kids standing between the front seats, or babies carried on the lap, yes, in the front too. There has been enough tv ads, etc., so for people who do this I think all I can do is set the example and mention it here and there. Now my sis has bought a seat for her 7 yo, but sometimes will not use it because she’s just going round the corner. In that case I do speak up because I know she is interested enough. I also told him not to go in car trips without it.

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