Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Sunday Post ~ Helicopter State And Boosters

Starting next month, our state is modifying the rules for booster seats for kids from a weigh restriction to an age and height restriction before they can sit in a regular seat in a car.

I'm all for safety. And I understand that shoulder straps are nor made for kids. I remember as a kid the shoulder strap would gag me because I was too small to be sitting with it on. So, I get it.

But I have to wonder at what point the safety issue makes us into helicopter parents and a helicopter state. We watch what they do, what they eat, what they play with. We monitor their every move.

What cost is there to the child? What about the freedom of play? The freedom to learn? The freedom to make mistakes- to fall down and get a scraped knee? These things are part of growing up.

I remember (long ago) us kids piling into the front bench seat of an extra large station wagon and riding down the road. I remember my friends and I hanging out in the back of a different station wagon (not in seats) . I remember a friend's birthday party where six of us piled into a tiny sedan and were standing up out of the moon roof singing. I remember piling 6 deep into the back seat during carpool. Those were fun times and great memories. Okay, granted, not particularly safe.

But no kid today will (legally) have these memories. Each kid has to have a booster seat and are supposed to sit in the back only. This limits a sedan to three kids at best- if you can get all of the booster seats to fit. And that's provided that the kids are carrying their booster seats with them.

No longer can a parent call up and ask another parent to take their kid home in an emergency. Kids visiting their friends can't just hop in a parent's car (with the parent) for a treat like ice cream or a jaunt to the movies. Everything has to be planned. Booster seats have to be provided. Effort has to be made. The spontaneity is gone.

And in the end it's every parent on their own when it comes to driving kids around, now that boosters are required for all kids under 8.

I have to wonder about the safety that was the "village" being traded for the safety of the booster. Which is better? And on a side note- why are we instead regulating cars to be made with built-in standard seats that are safe for kids?

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