Last year, I wrote a short blog post called Screw up Your Kid: Teach Him to Fear the World. It was directed at hyper-vigiliant parents who live in constant fear that their child will be hurt by the innumerable negative forces in the world. The thrust of the article was that scare tactics are simply poor parenting.
Recently, a friend sent me an article about parenting groups urging car manufacturers to have alarms in their cars which notified drivers if their was a child left in the car. Apparently, 41 children have died this year from hot cars. I’m a bit embarrassed to say this, but my initial thought was, “Wow, 41? Maybe an alarm isn’t a bad idea. I don’t like children; I kind of loathe them, actually, but do I really want them dead? Not really.” Then I realized how many children are hurt or killed by pretty much everything else bad that is out there, and 41 suddenly didn’t seem all that many.
Before I had a chance to comment on that issue here, another friend had responded to the article via email and captured the very essence of the problem better than I ever could. I present that to you here:
I picture myself in the year 2030 driving around in my 2015 Honda with the radio blaring to drown out the sound of the malfunctioning child alarm.
Millions of children are in cars every day without incident. I consider 40 casualties an acceptable percentage and an illustration of Darwinism at work. If you are dumb/careless enough to cook your child in a car, your child is more than likely predisposed to that level of stupidity/carelessness, be it from genetics or learned behavior. If one is of the mind to do such a thing, then it is very likely that other risky behavior is also present with the parent unaware of the danger. If this child is saved by this alarm, what are the odds of this child later being fried by the exposed wiring in the house, bleached by the draino next to the olive oil, crushed by the unsecured bookshelf filled with old Oprah magazines? Let’s stop supporting the propagation of stupid.
I am a parent of a four year-old. I have visions of tragedy all day. I see the accident, before it happens, and fix the situation or remove the child from the situation before tragedy strikes. This parental behavior is what keeps my child’s blood on the inside (usually). I am not unique, this is done by most. Parents should have that internal alarm and the vigilance to keep listening for it.
If this does pass, I have a Safety Box for children that I would like to sell to parents. It is made out of the same material as the black box on an aircraft. After birth, you put your child in the box and seal it up. There is an 18 year supply of fiber/protein paste in the box and battery operated filters for air and water. The parents can put the box into storage at my facility for 18 years while they continue to party like rock stars and do what ever they want. On the 18th birthday, we open the box, and voila… a perfect, well adjusted child, prepared to meet the challenges of the outside world. Perhaps they will meet someone special and together they can purchase a Safety Box of their own.
Well said. What needs to be added is that these parents who are promoting the delusion that true safety can be achieved by car alarms and strollers built like tanks are the same ones who want GPS chips surgically placed under their children’s skin. Yes, the parent would then know at all times where their child was, but with an important question: at what cost? The answer is simple: fear. For every “safety” precaution you add into a child’s life, you indirectly install not the concept that the world could be dangerous and therefore should be respected; rather, that it is worthy of fear and anxiety.
You can tell me I’m clueless because I don’t have nor want children and wouldn’t bat an eyelash if the entire world went sterile and we lived in a Children of Men society. That’s fine if you think my lack of direct experience does not afford me an opinion on this score. But let me offer this: instead of standing with a picket sign in front of a Ford dealership demanding alarms for dangerously hot weather in the car, go spend a few hours with your kid teaching the art of holding a baseball glove correctly so the ball can’t hit you in the face. That sounds like a lot more fun for both you and your child. That’s what my dad did for me, and it worked out pretty well.