By Tiffany MacKay
A few weeks ago I was told by my daycare provider that the infant room would no longer be able to use bottle warmers to warm bottles for my son. I was given a document from the state that outlined a policy that prohibited bottle warmers or crock pots from classrooms to warm bottles. The documentation strongly recommended feeding infants cold bottles, but if a parent were to insist on warming a bottle, the procedure was basically to use warm water from the tap to warm the bottle to room temperature. All of this was put in place by the state because children had been burned due to the negligence of a daycare provider. This has been the latest in a series of events that has made me ask,
“Who is the parent in today’s society?”
As parents, we see news reports or personal accounts on a daily basis where a parent’s decision about what is best for their child is overridden by others. Just look at the news story a few weeks ago about the child who brought lunch to school and school employees decided that meal was not healthy enough. The child was given a school lunch that, to many, seemed much less healthy than the meal prepared by the child’s parents. Or the fact that the state of Massachusetts requires all children in a daycare setting to have their teeth brushed. You hear about children being sent into the foster care system because they are obese and authorities are calling it abuse. The examples are many and everywhere.
Though I agree with the sentiment that it takes a village to raise a child, I do not believe that means that the village should control how I raise my child. I feel like more and more groups are trying to dictate how I raise my children. I believe in laws and regulations to protect children from negligence and abuse, not to dictate that my daycare should brush my child’s teeth or not warm up bottles. It is my responsibility as a parent to make sure that my child is in a safe and nurturing environment, and being raised in a way that supports my family’s personal beliefs and values. I do realize that there are parents who do not want to be responsible for their children. I see it every day, but the negligence and disinterest of a few should not impact the many. Yes, the state should put rules and guidelines in place to ensure that children are safe. But when it gets to the point that parents cannot opt out of their children having their teeth brushed at school or providing their child with a warm bottle, I feel like we have stepped over that invisible line of parents deciding what is best for their kids. Like we’re being told to do what others feel is best for our kids. I do appreciate that this is a delicate balance, but I feel right now that the scale is tipping further off-balance.
As a mom, one of the first lessons that I learned was that each family is different and there are as many different ways to raise a child as there are children in this world. Rigidity and spanking is as appalling to some families, as an unstructured environment and zero accountability is to other families. But neither is necessarily wrong. The box that I sometimes feel that I as a parent am trying to be pushed into concerns me. If we are all to raise our children in the exact same way, what are our children going to be like? Are we going to lose some of that uniqueness that comes with different environments that we were raised in? Are future generations going to become dependent on others to tell them how do something rather than having independent thinkers? Will parents stop being parents to their own children and become custodians of their children for the state? Yes, I know that some of this is going to the extreme, but what is to stop us from going there? As parents I think we need to step up and assert our rights as parents to raise our children the way we believe is right- not what everyone else tells us is right.
What do you think?