Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 5:05 AM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (2)
  • Print

Mom questioned by other parents about car-seat choices

Syndicated columnist

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
I don’t know quite how to respond without in some way saying, “Um, ... MORE
Women asking Carolyn for a prerecorded diplomatic message to give to other particular... MORE

advertising

Dear Carolyn

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

DEAR CAROLYN: I’ve had multiple people question my car-seat-related decisions for my children over the last few years. I follow American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, which currently recommend that children be rear-facing until they reach the max weight designated by the seat manufacturer, and remain in a five-point harness until they reach the max weight for their forward-facing seat. Many kids are in elementary school before they are really big enough to use a booster seat and shoulder belt.

I know several people who think you’re “supposed” to turn children forward-facing on their first birthday or transfer them to a booster seat when they turn 4. I don’t go around making comments to people who have done these things, but they feel justified in asking me why I didn’t. I don’t know quite how to respond without in some way saying, “Um, well you’re doing it wrong.” There are a lot of parenting choices where “right” is subjective, but I am not aware of any debate among experts on this topic.

On this same subject, how can I diplomatically explain that my petite 4-year-old is only allowed to ride in a five-point harness when she’s with her aunt and uncle? Their younger child is using a booster seat in violation of our state laws and I don’t want to insult them, but I also refuse to endanger my child to keep the peace.

— Car-Seat Judging

DEAR CAR-SEAT JUDGING: Remember, these practices and recommendations have evolved a lot over the years, from no restraints at all 40 years ago to LATCHing, rear-facing and five-point harnessing. The “right” thing you’re doing now can be different from what someone knew to be “right” just a few years ago. So, I think it’s more productive to approach it with that in mind, as opposed to taking the “I am not aware of any debate among experts on this topic” tack.

For example, you can respond to people’s questions with, “Yeah, car seat rules are a constantly moving target. I use the AAP guidelines.” Any further pressure can be dispatched with a rhetorical, “We all have to do what we think is best, right?”

As for riding with the aunt and uncle, hold your ground with, “It’s about weight and height, not age, and so Pookie can’t use a booster yet.” And if you get flak for it, a firm, “Humor me, please” can go a long way.

Re: Car Seats:

Just make sure you are making a clear distinction between recommendations and the actual laws where you live. Every field trip for our school turned into an argument about laws that do not exist in our state. And be willing to live with the legal minimum in an emergency. If Bobby is 9 and weighs 59 and a half pounds, Granny can pick him up from school once without the booster.

— Anonymous

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Yes, the laws and their variations do add a fun twist to this — as well as a way to end the conversation: “I can Google the laws right now. Anyone interested, or should we just go the most safety-minded route we can and leave it at that?”

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax. Find her columns daily at www.seattletimes.com/living

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

What do you know about the Image Duplicator?

What do you know about the Image Duplicator?

View an iconic Pop art image and enter to win a trip for two to Vancouver, B.C.

Advertising

Partner Video

Advertising

The Seattle Times Historical Archives

Browse our newspaper page archives from 1900-1984

Homes -- New Home Showcase

Condo community has resort-like atmosphere

Condo community has resort-like atmosphere


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►