Re: DSM: [SVS Discussion Board] Re: Child Safety

Tina (
Fri, 14 Apr 2000 01:50:41 -0400

><< Both of these cases require an individual case-by-case basis.
>Who decides?

Who decides now? Family generally. Social services other times. Courts
if necessary. My late father-in-law had Alzheimer's. He would wander out
of the house and get lost. Sometimes he'd just show up at the door of any
house that looked more or less like his and try to make the occupants
leave. He liked to drink Windex. We (his family) decided for him that he
was incapable of making his own decisions. It wasn't safe for him or the
community. The elderly woman who lived behind me had Parkinson's. Her
family was uncomfortable making decisions for her. The last time she
wandered off, the police had to drag her body from the bottom of a local
pond. Yup, she made that decision all by herself. Doubt drowning figured
into her plans at all.

><< I couldn't disagree with you more in this case. The whole object of
>childhood in general and the child-parent relationship in particular, is to
>allow the child to move from totally dependent to independent. >>
>Dependant doesn't have to mean controlled.

It's awfully hard to separate the two things in many cases. Dependency
confers the right to be controlled. Certainly this can be abused and often
is, but it is necessary. You (as the parent) control your infant
completely. Your toddler closely. Your grade school child less.
Eventually you end up with an independent adult.

><< It would be a horrible lapse in my responsibility as a parent if I let my
>young child do something dangerous simply because he wanted to. And if I had
>that, we wouldn't be having this discussion because my little angel would
>have been dead by the age of two. If he were lucky. >>
>Why do you go on the assumption that your child is a suicidal maniac with no
>concern for his well-being?

Because he was two. It really is that simple. I doubt a two-year-old has
ever been born who hasn't at least once tried to do something horrendously
dangerous to himself or others. It's a very normal and necessary part of
development. Toddlers (two-year-olds are the ultimate example) develop a
sophisticated sense of "I want" before they develop a practical sense of
"this is not a good idea". I wouldn't call them suicidal (although the
maniac part is certainly debatable), because they don't have any real sense
of what that is. My elderly neighbor was not suicidal either - she just
didn't understand her limits or the consequences of her actions. A
two-year-old would also quite likely take a walk too far out into the pond
if allowed to. And I wouldn't allow him to - no matter what he wants. I
also wouldn't allow him to wander around town unsupervised or stick the
screwdriver in the light socket or poke the dog's eyes with a stick.

While I certainly have let my son make many of his own decisions - and now
that he's 16 he pretty much makes all of them - matters of reasonable
safety were not open to discussion when he was a young child. Actually,
let me re-phrase that a bit - they were always open to discussion, but I
always had the final say. That was one of my responsibilities as a parent,
and I take the role very seriously.


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