Child Safety and Travel: Careful vs. Paranoid

Welcome to the first official post of the “Travel and Child Safety” series!! I am so excited to write this series as we think through safe travel with our little ones. I know I am definitely going to do a lot of serious thinking and learning as this series progresses.

The first thing I want to discuss is why we need to keep safety in mind while traveling. The point of thinking about strangers, unplanned events, and unpredictable circumstances is not to create fear. Fear is our enemy here. We don’t want to let fear in because fear can easily take over and ruin our vacations and lives. The reason we discuss topics like safety is to become aware. If we are aware of things that need to be addressed, we can prepare as much as possible. Being careful and being paranoid are two totally different things.

When you see a sign like this on the road, do you slow down and proceed carefully, or stop driving all together?
When you see a sign like this on the road, do you slow down and proceed carefully, or stop driving all together?

Let’s take a look at these two distinctive ideas through the lens of a traveling situation.

When you travel you want your children to be aware of the fact that strange adults are not to be trusted alone with them, because they may intend to hurt or take them. This is a reality in our world. I wish it wasn’t, but it is something that parents have to deal with. Here are two approaches to this situation from two very different gentlemen (don’t worry, there will be an entire post about this topic later on with more detailed information, this is just an example).

Mr. Careful says:

It is good to talk to your children about strangers and about an appropriate person to find if they are ever separated from you. This way if you ever encounter a situation where someone is trying to do something inappropriate in regards to your child, they will know what to do. Teaching children to be cautious around people they don’t know is important. It is also important that they know the rules when were are out in public and how they should stay close to Mrs. Careful and I. We also teach them to pick up on our verbal and non-verbal cues in relations to strangers. It is better to be prepared than to keep information from your child that they need simply because it is unpleasant in nature. However, I want my children to understand that it is good to experience new things and places, because that is one way we learn about the world around us.

Mr. Paranoid says:

Everyone you don’t know is a threat to the well-being of your family. You have to make sure to protect your family from everything harmful to the point that you are looking for a bad situation to arise on every leg of your trip. Your best approach with your children is to instill fear so that they cower when a nice old lady tells them hello and gives them a piece of candy she had in her purse. It could be poisonous after all. Better safe than sorry! In fact, why not just cancel the whole trip all together. It is better to stay home where you can control everything. If you go out and experience new things one or all of your family members may be captured or injured.

I know that at first glance you might say, “Well… Mr. Paranoid has a few good points, Kristin!” Yes I understand that Mr. Paranoid appears to have good points. But if you look at Mr. Careful, you will notice that he has all of the same points, however he chooses to deal with them differently. Being informed is your best defense against the evils that exist in this world. Mr. Paranoid wants to steal the joy of discovery your children will have on this trip by dwelling on every bad thing that could possibly happen, and creating an unnecessary amount of fear.

I am definitely in favor or being prepared, and being careful, or else I wouldn’t be writing an entire series on safety. However, I am not in favor of safety precautions that stop me from living my life. There are so many wonderful things and people out in the world. I am going to be careful and avoid the evil things and devious people out there as much as I can, but I am not going to let them stop me (or my children for that matter) from experiencing new things and enjoying all of the wonderful things in the world that still exists.

I choose Mr. Careful and politely say to Mr. Paranoid, “No thank you!”

Whom will you choose?

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