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Friend lacks basic concept of child safety - WWYD?

post #1 of 74
Thread Starter 
I have this new friend, we met through a local green organization and really get on in many ways. I have known her for around four months now, and she has a three year old son and a newborn. I am not of the judgy type, but I've been really unpleasantly surprised by her total lack of concern for child safety... TWICE! She is the same with her own kids, but there were two incidents with my kids that really had me worried.

1) We went to a national park together. It is just nature, including a lake, and there is a restaurant and some kids' play areas. She asked me to hold her newborn for a while, and I said, "OK, if you watch my one year old!". She said, fine, and I held the newborn for about 10 seconds before realizing my one year old son was GONE!

I asked her where he was and she said "I dunno" in a relaxed way. Hey, we're in a great big park, lots of people about, a lake right by, and you said you'd watch him! I quickly hand her back her newborn and go look for my son. I can't see him anywhere. After I scream his name, he comes running to me. Turns out he was watching some pensioners play bridge. I was SO scared. When I said something to her about it, she laughed it off.

2) After that incident, I decided that we could stay friends, but I would never, ever let her watch my kids again, even for a second. Last week we (me and two kids) went to her house for a playdate. They have a small apartment, on the third floor. I am sitting in the living room with this woman, drinking coffee, when I hear her son's voice with some echo. Turns out he'd opened the front door, and had gone outside. Again, he's three, and there was an open window in the hallway and three huge flights of stairs. I panicked and she said "Oh, he does that all the time!".

So I asked her to lock the door, and her husband replied, "Oh, I got it, I will lock the door and stay right by it so nobody can try and open it." With that thought, I continued drinking coffee. A few minutes later, I hear her son talking, again, with an echo. The husband had gone somewhere else, never locked the door AND my one year old was nowhere to be seen. I screamed his name, with no result. At this point I was shouting at the husband while looking for my baby. In the end, I found him just hiding behind the open front door, inside the apartment. Both husband and wife reacted like I was some crazy, overprotective mom.

I could kick myself for trusting this guy to stay by the door and lock it, after what happened at the national park. I'm still feeling guilty, because in a way, I could have seen that coming. I told him I was REALLY angry for not looking after the kids' basic safety after he had explicitly told me he would do so. He laughed my comments off.

I have seen them do similar things with their kids on at least a dozen occasions, and they simply do not care. What would you do? Would you do anything about it? I will see them again at the meetings of the group we both belong to, but other than that I don't think I want to continue the friendship. Do you think I am overreacting?
post #2 of 74
In a nutshell, your kids are your responsibility, their kids are their responsibility, period. I have very loose "safety standards" for my kids, because I have been with them 24/7 since the day they were born, and I know exactly what they will do in terms of safe/unsafe behavior. I know when I need to watch them closely and when I don't, and it drives me a little up the wall when people assume I'm being negligent when my son is climbing something that another parent deems unsafe. It might be unsafe for another kid, but other kids are not my job, and it IS safe for my child, so I let him/them do whatever they like within the realm of safety FOR THEM.

I have discovered that I have a much wider range of what I consider safe for children than most anyone else I know. I also know that sometimes people forget that what is safe for a 3 y.o. who lives in a home with potential dangers is not necessarily safe for the visiting 1 y.o., or even multiple kids, who will sometimes devise crazy plans in a group, or encourage each other to do unsafe things. Hold her newborn, but know that you still need to keep an eye on your baby, and don't be afraid to just hand her baby back if your child needs you/needs following/etc.

So yes, I would watch my kids carefully around this family, but I certainly wouldn't write off a friendship with them -- pretty soon your kids will be a little older and the safety issues won't be a big deal, and they may turn out to be great friends.
post #3 of 74
No, you aren't overreacting. I wouldn't have playdates with her anymore.

My BFF got CPS called on her once by a neighbor when her DD (2-3 at the time) got out of the house and was found walking down their suburban street. Just something to think about. That (and worse) could happen to your friend if she isn't more careful.
post #4 of 74
You're not overreacting. Kids do fall out of windows, get lost in the woods at national parks, etc. It happens to parents who honestly believe their child wouldn't do,climb,disappear, or other stunt not usually done.

Stuff happens.
post #5 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Latte Mama View Post
You're not overreacting. Kids do fall out of windows, get lost in the woods at national parks, etc. It happens to parents who honestly believe their child wouldn't do,climb,disappear, or other stunt not usually done.

Stuff happens.
This. I completely agree.
post #6 of 74
When I visit someone's house I never expect them to have the same safety precautions that I do and therefore do not let dd leave my sight. BUT I am kind of a hoverer as well, lol.
I wouldn't ever let the woman watch your kids or let your guard down when at her house. I agree with the pps about how easily kids walk out of houses or get lost when not properly watched. I guess you'll have to decide whether or not this is a friendship deal breaker or not? I have some friends who have kids and because our parenting styles differ so drastically, it has altered our level of involvement with each other.
post #7 of 74
It's really your choice if you want to continue the friendship. I don't think there are any rules that say you have to be friends with someone even if someone else thinks you're being silly.

Still, I also think it would be helpful to sort out the primary issues. They kid their kids free range and that's their prerogative. So the issue really is the safety of your kid. I think you've learned not to give responsibility to watch your kid to the mom, not for one second. Next you learned not to give responsibility to the dad. So you really just have to remember to be totally responsible for your kid when you're with them, as if you were alone or with total strangers. It's nice to be able to depend on your friends to help keep track of the flock, but it's apparently not going to happen with them.

Also, is this a cultural thing? Where you live, I remember once going into some catacombs. In the US, those catacombs would have been all roped off and everything. There was a part where you could easily just fall into darkness. My friend told me she went there all the time with her friends as a kid and they'd throw stuff down and listen for it to land WAY down below. Seriously, this was a "slip and you're dead" situation. But it's considered your responsibility to keep yourself safe, different from the US where that place would have been like sealed off or someone would have sued the town or something.
post #8 of 74
No you aren't overreacting- you have a 1 yr old! I wouldn't write off the friendship because of their safety standards but for the fact that they lied to you, were careless with your 1 yr old, and laughed at your concern and fear. She doesn't sound like the kind of person I would want a friendship with.
post #9 of 74
I wouldn't actually do things with her. It sounds like she wants you to to chat with her while you hold her newborn or whatever. The problem is that you also have a baby. There is no way you can do that if you have to follow your own baby around.
Also, I think they were beyond rude when they laughed at your anger.
post #10 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama2mygirl View Post
...
Also, I think they were beyond rude when they laughed at your anger.


I'm a pretty free-range mama, but I would never, EVER laugh at someone else when they were upset because their child was missing - especially if I'd been asked to watch that child or had said I'd close and lock the door to keep that child in! That goes way beyond free-range parenting and well into a lack of respect for other people, imo.
post #11 of 74
It just sounds to me that you have VERY different methods of parenting. I am probably similar to the mom you're talking about, and similar to tiffani. A 3 year old next to a flight of stairs would be a non-issue to me.

Honestly, I do think that screaming at your friend's husband because you couldn't find your child was an overreaction. If it's important for you to know where your child is all the time, you are the one who should be keeping him in sight. It's unrealistic to expect other people to not only know what YOUR parenting standards are, but to also adhere to them.
post #12 of 74
OP - I get where you are coming from, what you described would disturb me greatly had I been in your shoes.

We have friends that had this la-la-la attitude about safety and it drove me nuts long before DS was born. It was far beyond the "do you let your 4 yo use a steak knife?" type of debate.

The stuff they simply didn't worry about was amazing - like their 2-3 year constantly escaping from the house at 5am in the morning and walking down a very busy street. Seriously, put a slide bolt on the door! Or leaving a toddler completely unsupervised playing next to a pond. And yes, said toddler did fall in when no one was looking and thank good, his dad looked out the window in time.

It was like they were missing whatever chip in their brain that registers fear/concern.

I wouldn't stop a friendship over it but I would never let those people be in a position of watching my child(ren)
post #13 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by annethcz View Post
It just sounds to me that you have VERY different methods of parenting. I am probably similar to the mom you're talking about, and similar to tiffani. A 3 year old next to a flight of stairs would be a non-issue to me.

Honestly, I do think that screaming at your friend's husband because you couldn't find your child was an overreaction. If it's important for you to know where your child is all the time, you are the one who should be keeping him in sight. It's unrealistic to expect other people to not only know what YOUR parenting standards are, but to also adhere to them.
I agree with this.
post #14 of 74
Wow! Those people sound irresponsible. I wouldn't call this a free range, vs helicopter situation. Parents must provide a secure environment for small children. Accidents are the number one cause of childhood death. Not disease, not stranger abduction, but accidents. Falling from windows, getting hit by cars and drowning are the biggest threats children face nowadays.
post #15 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by annethcz View Post
Honestly, I do think that screaming at your friend's husband because you couldn't find your child was an overreaction. If it's important for you to know where your child is all the time, you are the one who should be keeping him in sight. It's unrealistic to expect other people to not only know what YOUR parenting standards are, but to also adhere to them.
She didn't scream at him because she didn't know where her child was, she screamed at him because he agreed to lock the door and LIED about it and that resulted in her child being in a situation she felt was unsafe. He didn't have to know her parenting standards and adhere to them, he just needed to not lie about locking a door.

The only reason the OP wasn't watching her LO closely enough to see that he'd gone out the door is that she had been told that the door would be locked. Just as she'd be reassured at the national park that her child was being watched by the other adult.

OP, both those people were irresponsible to lie to you. Thank goodness you didn't learn that by having your child harmed by their lack of trustworthiness.
post #16 of 74
Weird. If I tell someone I'm going to watch their child, I watch them. You know, with my eyes. Even without the fact that you're talking about a 1 year old in a public park, she said she would watch him and then didn't do it.
post #17 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

The only reason the OP wasn't watching her LO closely enough to see that he'd gone out the door is that she had been told that the door would be locked. Just as she'd be reassured at the national park that her child was being watched by the other adult.
I agree with this. I wouldn't call them names though. My own three year olds were very physically and mentally mature and by the time the *oldest* was still 3 we were pretty far from babyproofing things like doors to the outside. We were more like, you guys want to go on a four mile round trip bike ride (each person on his own independent bike)?

I can see losing touch with the needs of a 1 year old especially if tired from a new baby.

You have definitely been put on notice that they both have a short attention span and are not going to take responsibility to fix that. I think it's OK to say, this is not a good match for me for playdates now because it's too much work to keep up with their mistakes. I'd say have them over to your house only, but they could open those doors too.
post #18 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by MittensKittens View Post
I will see them again at the meetings of the group we both belong to, but other than that I don't think I want to continue the friendship. Do you think I am overreacting?
You are not over re-acting. There are two separate issues. First, your ideas on safety are very different. Second, they are really disrespectful to YOU. If it were only the first, and they understood that their ideas were different and they were respectful to you about it, then there could be a chance for a friendship, but the combination is lethal for friendship.

We are semi-free range (more so than any families we know IRL) and I know that my kids guidelines are out of sync with many of their friends. I totally respect their friends' parents as I believe that all parents are making the best choices they can based on loving their kids. To laugh at another parent or say you are going to do something that you know is a big deal to the other parent and then just not bother is unacceptable.
post #19 of 74
I was thinking it might be cultural as well. I remember a Dr. Phil (!) episode where a man from the region where you live was married to an American woman and she was horrified at how lax he was about their 4-year-old's safety. Of course your friends might be posting right now about their incredibly laissez-faire friend who doesn't make her one-year-old wear a coat and wool hat in the summer.
post #20 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by MittensKittens View Post
So I asked her to lock the door, and her husband replied, "Oh, I got it, I will lock the door and stay right by it so nobody can try and open it." With that thought, I continued drinking coffee.
I was surprised you said you continued drinking your coffee because as soon as I read that I assumed he was being sarcastic. Maybe it's just me though, but I started laughing . I mean who would just sit there by their locked front door to make sure no one would go out?
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