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Dangers All Around Us

by Jeri Carr

A child getting gravely hurt or worse is the fear of every parent. The other day, my fear almost came true. At the park, my unwary toddler climbed up some playground equipment until he reached the high platform level with the slide, and he started walking over to the slide. He wobbled, and I stood watching in horror--unable to reach him in time--as he fell head first through an opening between the platform he had been walking on and the barrier that was supposed to keep children from falling off the platform.

His head hit the sand below. He started crying immediately and I was able to console him fairly quickly considering what had just happened. Clearly shaken up, he didn’t want to be put down--and I didn’t want to put him down. I just wanted to hold my precious child close.

I keep picturing him falling and hitting his head. Why didn’t I take better care of him? How could I have let it happen? I am mad at myself. It frightened me to see him fall so far and hit his sweet head. I’ve apologized many times since it happened, and I find myself holding him and hugging him with extra tenderness and gratefulness.

Through the years since I became a parent, it’s been impressed on me over and over that our children’s lives and well-being are fragile, though sometimes it's easy to think that bad things only happen to other people. There is certainly no shortage of horrible things that can happen, and I hear heart-breaking stories often. One instance that I'll never forget occurred last year when the loving father of a family we knew accidentally backed up and ran over and killed his three year old, and I recently read the story of a child who got strangled in his crib sheet.

Children can choke on balloons. They can drown in the bathtub. They can be poisoned by eating medication that was left out or by drinking bleach or other household cleaners. I’m not trying to be morbid, but, wow, we parents have got a huge responsibility. We need to be careful and research and find the latest information on what is dangerous and what is safe for our children.

It can be hard because many things that our parents were told were safe for us when we were little children are considered to be unsafe today. Even things that were considered safe last year are no longer considered safe.

Sometimes I feel over-protective, and then there are times when I am sure other people are looking at me and thinking, "Why is she letting her child do that?" It can be hard to make the right choices, and parents have various reasons for not allowing something or allowing something.

Diligence and involvement in our children’s lives are necessary. If they do something potentially dangerous, we need to go along beside them and be there to catch them until they are old enough to have steady feet. We need to guide them and help them learn to make wise choices. Granted, it’s impossible to watch them every minute, and where is the balance between being over-protective and letting our children explore and experience life?

Researching what child safety experts have to say is essential so we can make informed decisions. Learning what child development experts say children can do at different ages can be invaluable. Talking with other parents can help us learn from each other’s mistakes. As parents who are lovingly involved in our children’s lives, we know our children best, and, coupled with awareness and common sense, we have to do what feels right for us and our children, and we need to treasure our children, for their life and health are fragile.

This article was first published on Suite101.com.


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