How to deal with grandparents on child safety issues

jane1July 5, 2007

I need advice (particularly from grandparents!) on how to deal with grandparents who don't respect our wishes on child safety issues. My MIL and FIL put our 2 yo son in their car for a drive in the backseat without any child restraint (with him on my MIL's lap and the seatbelt over both of them). When my husband and I found out about this, we told them that this was not something we wanted them to do and that he should always be taken in a car with a proper child restaint (ours). They agreed they would do this (in fact, my husband and I were both very angry and my FIL gave me a present by way of an apology). Today they looked after my son again and I discovered that they had taken him out on a train (fine) but had come home in a taxi cab with no restraint, because he was running a bit behind schedule for a nap. I only discovered this when my son told me he had a ride in a taxi. My concern is that I cannot trust them with him (1) given their disregard for our clear wishes and (2) this is an important issue (i.e. not in the minor league of "I'd prefer him not to have sugar"). Also, given it has now happened twice, I am not confident that I can rely on any assurances they give that it won't happen again. My options are to (1) confront them about it and tell them we can't leave them with him again or (2) just limit access in circumstances where he could be unsafe (e.g. cars, near water etc) without making a big deal of it. Not sure what to do.

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Most states have a child restraint law as does ours along with the safety belt law. I am a grandparent and the child's safety is a must.
I would discuss this with your husband as they are his parents. Do they babysit for you or were these circumstances where he was just staying with them?
Let your husband talk to them about the situations and the promise to correct the issue but then turn around and do it again. This is not a suggestion for them to consider but a requirement.
I bought the seat for my car whenever one of the granchildren was with me. It is distracting enough with a child unhappy in the car and ten fold if allowed to roam around.
If I'm doing something that causes a problem for one of my grandchildren, my daughters or SIL's tell me -- like me taking them to McDonalds as they considered it junk food.
Sorry and maybe it seems harsh but I would not let your child stay with them. A sealtbelt is not meant for 2 people as in the event of an accident, the person sitting on someone's lap would have that weight on them of the person holding them where severe injury will occur.
No reason is valid to explain away why chances are taken that are harmful.
Best of luck

    Bookmark   July 6, 2007 at 2:14PM
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You need to sit down with your in-laws and have a non-confrontational, non-accusatory, non-threatening discussion.

Is your son fighting them when they try and put him in the car seat, is it too difficult to buckle him in or get him out? Do they feel it's not necessary on short trips. Find out what's going on and then work together to find a solution for all of you.

Do they have their own car seat and is it installed in their car? If not, get them a car seat and make sure it's correctly installed and they are comfortable using it. I bought one and keep it in my car, and know how to put my grandson in it, but it took some time to get comfortable with it. It's not something to take out and reinstall at each visit. When my children were born, in the mid '70's child safety seats were just starting to be used, I had one of the first ones, and they were nothing like the ones now. Don't expect them to install your seat. If you expect them to use yours, you must install it in their car when your son is visiting with them.

A cab is a whole other issue, and expecting them to carry and use a child safety seat is not reasonable, but he should have had the seatbelt on. Maybe they didn't know they could do that. My daughter had to take a cab recently, with her son, when they moved, and she buckled him into the middle of the back seat next to her. He loved it. Installing the car seat was out of the question.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2007 at 10:45AM
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That would be reason enough for them not to have my child alone. There is no excuse to not use a car seat. I don't care if it is in a taxi you can still install a seat. If you can't then you don't go for a ride with the child. It is a major legal issue as well. If there is an accident they can be charged with a crime for allowing your child to ride without a car seat!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 1:13AM
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I have to comment on this, although I am a mom of a young child and not a grandparent. I would be flaming L-I-V-I-D if anyone subjected my child to harm in this manner, especially of child restraints had already been discussed with them. The idea that expecting someone to carry a child restraint is unreasonable is pure baloney. It's unreasonable to 1) violate the law 2) subject a child to harm. OP, I don't know if you are still reading this, since your post is a little old. But seriously, the grandparents in question do not use sound judgment, and they cannot be trusted to follow the most fundamental safety rules.

Times have changed, and so has the distribution of information. Time for them to take advantage of the internet or grandparenting classes to learn how to take care of the grandson. And they MUST learn to respect your wishes as parents. They weren't even going to tell you about the cab ride. They are not trustworthy. I would limit contact with them immediately. I would not allow my child any alone time with them. And I would confront them about it to explain why. Maybe in the future you can trust them, but right now you have to ensure your own child's safety.

Oh, and I would call the cab company and complain about the driver who was complicit in breaking the law.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 11:32AM
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In an emergency situation you at least put the child in a seat belt! That said......
I am the grandmother of a 20 month old little girl! I would not think of taking her in the car with out her carseat!!!When ever we have her(every week for either 2 or 4 days and nights)we take the carseat out of my daughters car and we use it! It is installed properly! We did buy one of our own a few weeks ago but I returned it because I didn't like the way that it buckled. Right now we are looking at the car/booster type seats, I figure buying one like that now makes more sense than just the regular carseat since she will be able to use it longer.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 6:50PM
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