I’m just going to rant about this here for a minute. I am sick and tired of hearing people on online mothering boards suggesting and encouraging the use of CPS and the Police Department as tattle tale tactics for enforcing what they view as bad parenting or misuse/lack of use of car seats. This is driving me insane. The carseat thing bugs me the most.
It is none of your business. If you want to make it your business then politely offer them the information that they need. Tell them where they can get a free carseat. Tell them where they can get its installation checked. Tell them that the law/cps can get involved in their lives if they don’t uphold to their states laws and you’d hate to see that happen to them. But for goodness sakes don’t take it upon yourself to call the Cops or CPS. And if you feel it is really necessary call the Cops (non emergency number), not CPS. Let the Cops decide if it warrants a call to CPS. These same people who are so quick to call CPS or the Cops say they couldn’t possibly directly talk to the person. “Oh, but what would I say? That would be awkward.” No. You know what’s awkward? Having Child Protection Services on your door because someone else thinks they’re being a good neighbor. That’s awkward. If you can’t confront someone directly you have absolutely no business calling an agency on them unless to do so endangers your own life or your children’s lives. If it is for your own comfort then hang up the phone. You have no idea what havoc you are about to unleash on their family and if you don’t at least have the courtesy to step out of your comfort zone then you have no business involving yourself by making that call.
And I am all for AP parenting and gentle discipline but don’t even think about calling CPS because you saw a mom swear at her children or because someone got a spanking in public. You have no idea what has gone on in the rest of their day. You have no idea about their family. You probably don’t understand the length of chaos and damage that can be done with one little phone call. Try HELPING. Try asking if there is anything you can do to help and then give them a look of “I’ve been there”.
The thread that started this rant is on a mothering board that I frequent where one neighbor see’s another neighbor’s large family and she’s pretty sure they are not using carseats properly. She doesn’t feel comfortable saying something directly but is considering calling CPS if she see’s anything she can confirm. That is so messed up.
What I find the most messed up about all of this is that most of the moms that fall victim to this mentality are AP style parents. They want to live in a world that is more connected. More loving. More gentle. And yet they promote disconnection. They promote anti-loving behavior. They don’t take the gentlest approach when it comes to dealing with their neighbors. We talk about having a sense of community around us. We all want to live in a world where there is no need for locked doors and our children can roam free with the other neighborhood children and play. You know what? That starts with you learning how to be a good neighboor and learning how to help rather than hinder other families. Reach out and stop the tattling.
P.S. Before anyone thinks that I don’t promote the use of carseats, I do. I think they are super-de-duper important and I’m pretty anal about how it’s used in my family. But I don’t believe it gives me the right to throw other families to the wolves for not doing it right.