Dear Mom Who Called Me Overprotective,
First of all, I heard you. So next time you feel like talking smack about my parenting style, you might want to move out of earshot. But I’m not here to address your lack of tact; this about my overprotectiveness.
You see, Mom Who Called Me Overprotective, I know that you were talking about the fact that I still make my 8-year-old ride in a booster seat. I could tell by your tone how completely ridiculous you think this is. According to you, I’m some type of psychotic helicopter parent because I follow guidelines set out by the American Academy of Pediatrics. I get it. In the land of mom judgment, an 8-year-old in a booster makes me an easy target. I guess.
But here’s what you don’t seem to understand. I feel like I have two main jobs as a mom. First, my job is to keep my kids safe. Sounds simple enough. My second job as a mom is more complicated. My second job is to raise my children to be productive members of society. So let’s think about this. I need to keep my kids safe and I need to raise them to make good decisions.
So in our family we DO ride in booster seats until it’s appropriate to transition out of them, and we DO wear life jackets on boats, and we DO hold hands while crossing streets, and we ALWAYS wear helmets when riding our bikes. Because Mom Who Called Me Overprotective, I want to keep my kids safe right now, but I’m also looking at the bigger picture.
Kids learn by watching and observing everything their parents do; from the time they are babies in their car seats, up until they are teenagers driving themselves around. They hear you when you tell them they can ride without a seatbelt just this one time. They are learning from you when you tell them they can take a ride just around the block without a helmet. They are watching when they see you send just a short text while you’re driving.
There is going to come a day when my little kids are going to be big kids and eventually those big kids are going to become teenagers. There’s going to come a day when my children are going to have to make their own decisions. They’re going to be faced with decisions like should they accept a ride from a friend who has been drinking or should they text while driving. And my hope for them, is that they will think about how much I’ve taught them to value their personal safety before they make those choices. My hope is that they’ll stop, for even a split second, and think about conversations we’ve had about car safety before they accept a ride in an overcrowded car where there is no seatbelt available for them. My hope is that my kids will offer to be a designated driver and value their friends’ lives as much as I have valued theirs.
So, Mom Who Called Me Overprotective, I’ll gladly accept the title of overprotective if it means that my kids grow up to learn how to keep themselves safe. Because as far as I’m concerned, that means I’m doing my job.