Parenting: Careful With Kids

The Murphy Family on the Mt. Hood glacier in Oregon.

Kids can be a little reckless when they're having fun, but so can parents!
April 20, 2011 6:33:33 AM PDT
Kids can be a little reckless when they're having fun, but so can parents!

Here's a typical vacation scenario from when the Murphy's used to take the kids out west to National Parks and other natural environments.

ME: Hey, kids! Last one to the rocky outcrop is a rotten egg!

THE WIFE: Dave, be careful! Those rocks look dangerous.

ME: Oh, don't worry about us! We're having FUN!

THE WIFE: I don't know, honey. That really looks steep over there, and those rocks are pointy.

ME: Pointy? C'mon, we're fine! I'm on it!

THE WIFE: Dave? Look out for the

ME: Uh-oh.

KIDS: Ow! Eeech! Ow!

Exuberance is common while on the road, and why not? Finally unchained from school, work and the hum-drum of home life, a family understandably adopts an unleashed attitude once a vacation begins. Adrenaline is high. So are spirits. But it's obvious that as the "carefree" factor goes up, common sense go goes down, and there's statistical data that backs this up. Every year, visitors to national parks, for example, are feeling so invincible on vacation that dozens of them manage to get themselves gored by buffalo, or take an unexpected plunge into a canyon. You can read about these people in the visitor's information the park rangers hand out whenever you enter one of these parks. And who are these people? Professional adventurers? Trained animal wranglers? On the contrary, they're you and me, basically. They're urban denizens in minivans, freed from the work-a-day world, and feeling so excited by their new surroundings they abandon their common sense.

But you hardly have to go to Wyoming or Arizona to experience this phenomenon. According to the website, there were nearly 4800 watercraft accidents nationwide in 2008, resulting in 700 deaths and 3300 injuries. Among the chief contributing factors were victims not wearing life jackets, or operating their boats while using alcohol. In New Jersey alone, U.S. Transportation Department figures show that during a five year stretch ending in 2000, alcohol-related boating accidents killed 12 people and injured 54, mostly during the summer vacation season.

All of this suggests that sometimes, people on vacation do not make the best choices, and when it's a parent acting in unwise ways, their children are often at risk.

So, as the weather warms and we all start making our summer vacation and party plans, keep in mind how easy it is for summer freedom to lead to dumb decisions and problems. Keep that workmanlike thinking cap on while you're having your summer fun, and make sure the fun is safe and headache-free.

---David Murphy

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