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When Would You Step in and Correct Another Parent?


Hi, MOC readers! It’s Kim from Team Cartwright.  Katrina has been kind enough to let me borrow her blog for a moment to talk about something I have been mulling over for a while.  Like all moms I’m trying to figure this parenting thing out as I go, and I really want to know what others are thinking on this.  So thank you, Katrina!

Have you ever seen a parent do something that you know you have read is technically not safe, but doesn’t seem like it is an actual immediate threat?  Like, it’s not a good idea to do it, but realistically you wonder if it is the end of the world?  Plus so many other parents do it.  When you see it happening do you go up to that parent and say something?  Or do you mind your own business, figuring that parent has the right to make their own decisions?

Sorry, is this confusing?  I’ll just get specific.  Now before I do I of course want to point out that I am not judging.  I am not looking to shame parents, and I am certainly not trying to appear better than anyone else.  I make plenty of mistakes and have done things I maybe (probably)  should be judged for.  This is a situation that I am really wondering about.

Let’s get to it.  Shopping carts.  Specifically I tend to see a lot of parents put their baby’s car seat in the front section of the cart where little children can sit.  When Ben was a new baby we saw people doing this and thought it was a great idea!  The seat can just kind of latch on up there like in the car.  This would leave the basket of the cart free for groceries, and it meant we didn’t have to bring in the stroller.  If you are shopping alone with a baby this is a real consideration.  Do you want to just carry the seat?  Carry the child?  Push the stroller and pull a cart?  (Yes, I hear the people shouting out “Baby wear!”  I know this is a perfect solution for some people.  But it isn’t for everyone.)

Back to our first try with this.  We couldn’t really get the seat to balance, and frankly I got annoyed with trying.  We just put Ben in the basket part and grabbed a second cart to fill with food.  I was honestly glad it didn’t work, as the whole set up felt a little unsafe to me.  Later I looked it up online to see if we were latching it wrong or just somehow not doing it right.  I’m glad I did.  Apparently my gut feeling was right- this is not a safe practice!

Okay, we’re going to get back to why this is unsafe at the end.  I’ll leave some links to resources on it.  Let’s circle back to my question.  This is an unsafe practice.  Yet many, many parents do it.  So if you see a parent with their child in the car seat on top of a shopping cart, do you say something?

I’m going to be honest here, I don’t.  If I were asked about it I would for sure say that it was unsafe.  I’ve told those in charge of my own kids not to do it.  But to walk up to total strangers just going about their day?  That seems quite confrontational.  How will this other person react?  Is it even any of my business?  Or is this a case of the village stepping in to keep kids safe?

There are reasons to step forward.  Safety of our babies should trump being uncomfortable in a social situation.  If I think a child is at a serious risk I would totally step in.  Who cares what the other person may think?  I’d rather have someone mad at me than an injured child.  But what if you aren’t sure what the real risks are?  Yes, it would cause injury if the child fell.  Realistically though, how often do children fall?

There are reasons I know I don’t step up.  A big one is I don’t feel like I have the right to tell anyone how to parent.  If I am out without my kids, how do they know I have any idea what parenting is like?  And if I am out with my own crew, well the messy faces and tears that sometimes come during shopping trips might not make it seem like I’m holding my own.  I do question how often this sort of injury takes place.  Yes, if a child falls it could mean a serious hurt.  But is it one of those things that is blown out of proportion?  Like how you can’t let your kids play alone outside for five minutes without child services being called?  What are the chances that my son could run ahead of me, slip, and seriously hurt himself?  Are they higher or lower than a baby falling out of a cart?

Overall I think the odds of something happening are pretty low.  And quite honestly by the time I think of saying something one of my own crew demands my attention.  I can’t help but think back later and wonder if I should have said something though.

This leads to my bigger question, and I am so happy that Katrina has let me ask her great readers.  At what point do you step in if you see a child in a potentially unsafe situation?  Do you talk to people in the grocery store about unsafe cart practices?  If you see a picture on Facebook with a baby in a car seat, and the straps look too loose, do you comment on it?  Or do you let the other parents parent?

I think in most cases people really don’t know something is unsafe.  Or perhaps they have weighed the risks and made the choice that feels right for them.  Either way we all have a different barometer of acceptable risk.

So tell me, when and where do you step in?  What compels you to take the chance and say something to another parent?  Have you ever said something to a stranger?  Has anyone ever said anything to you?  Let’s get this conversation going.

Oh, and here are some links as to why that shopping cart thing is actually a bad idea.

The Car Seat Lady

Huffington Post

Car Seat Blog

Kim is the mom of three- a 3-year-old son and 18 month old twin daughters.  She blogs at and you can follow her on Facebook and Pinterest

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