The same principle will apply when you have "The Talk" with your own parents (and in-laws) as a parent yourself. In years past, young parents relied upon their own parents' experience almost exclusively to determine their parenting practices; however, the dawn of the information age has expanded the available knowledge base for new parents and has helped raise awareness of methods for keeping infants and young children safe (not to mention the medical and technological advances that have been made over the last 30 years!).
Heartbreaking statistics show that accidents remain the leading cause of serious and fatal injury to young children; changing everything from the way we select car seats to how we childproof our homes. Sharing this information, along with your concerns for maximizing the enjoyment of visits by minimizing the stressors, can help ease the discussion's tension. Below are two common scenarios you may encounter and suggestions for diplomatic responses.
- The "we raised you without all that stuff and you lived" mentality. It's true, anyone reading this survived childhood, perhaps with just a few bumps and bruises, or perhaps with more serious injury; but why gamble with any child's safety?
- Assure your parents that you are not attacking their parenting style or ability; share with them that by taking a few simple steps to childproof their home they would have more fun with their grandchildren because they would spend less time saying "no" and more time enjoying the visit. Also (but only if its true!) let them know that childproofing would increase your comfort level during visits and may result in more frequent visits!
- For resistant parents, offer to bring your own childproofing supplies and take them with you when you go; it may be cumbersome, but it's worth it if it helps smooth familial tension.
- If they are truly resistant, suggest visiting at a park or in your own home instead; not ideal, but you have to stand up for your child(ren)'s safety - you would never be able to forgive yourself if your child(ren) suffered injury or death because you acquiesced to save someone hurt feelings.
- Your parents or in-laws don't understand, don't have space for, or cannot afford "all those fancy gizmos."
- As mentioned above, you can transport and install your own safety items each time; or, consider offering to buy a childproofing kit, like the compact one developed by Travel-Tot, featuring an assortment of outlet covers, corner guards, pinch guards, and cabinet/door securing devices to be stored at grandma and grandpa's house for visits (minimizing what you need to carry along)! One of the nicest features of Travel-Tot's Travel Childproofing Kit is that the adhesive is temporary, so it goes on strong, but comes off clean without damage to finishes or furniture!
When you confront your parents or in-laws, firmly, but politely make it clear that while you do want to be able to share the joy of their grandchildren with them, your child(ren)'s safety is your priority. Precious few bonds are as important as those between children and grandparents; and those bonds will only be strengthened by having open and honest lines of communication about important issues like safety.
Safe and happy travels.