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Do We Overdo It in America?

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Guest blogger Jessica Katz: So I just got back from Mexico, where I was shocked to learn that they don't use car seats. In fact, they would just throw their babies on a wooden board attached to the front of a scooter. No helmets or seat belts -- just mommy or daddy's arms.

mom and daughter
As I watched this and winced day after day, I was looking at a new mommy site which listed everything you need as "organic." Organic toys, organic foods, organic bottles, etc. It occurred to me that we Americans might take it a little too far.

My daughter Ila has a lot of toys -- some organic, but some just normal Fisher Price plastic. I am pretty sure none of her playthings have lead in them, but they are from everyday stores -- not Target; not specialty boutiques. Yes, her bottles and cups are BPA-free, as were her pacifiers. But she eats out and gets exposed to foods that are not organic every day (such as In-N-Out). Her mattress isn't organic, either; it is a normal mattress that is flame retardant.

She may truly only be about 10 percent "green" -- which is OK. I have enough to worry about. As a mom, you have to "pick your battles." We have to lead real lives, and real lives are hard enough sans organic and green guidelines. We do our best.

But as I watched those kids tool around Mexico, I thought, "They are so independent and street smart and self-sufficient -- in a place where I'm scared to drink the water!" So perhaps we Americans need to relax. Kids are pretty durable. They say that if you take an American kid and drop him or her in the middle of N.Y.C., they would have no idea what to do, but if you took an Israeli kid and dropped him or her in the middle of N.Y.C., they would survive just fine.

Moms, what say you?

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9 comments so far | Post a comment now
Benny December 28, 2010, 6:25 AM

Sounds about right. As a nation, we’re pretty pathetic.

KS December 28, 2010, 3:09 PM

A Mexican parent and an Israeli parent doesn’t have the same societal standards and if a Mexican mother tells her child to go outside and play all day the neighbors aren’t going to call CPS on her. If the mother in Iraq puts the kids in the car and returns the cart nobody is going to take down her license plate and call the police.

Our society and ways of parenting our children are completely different because our culture is different. Our children don’t have to work to feed our family because we the parents can’t do that for ourselves. Our kids go to day care because we can afford it and our children are safer. More of our children make it into adult hood with less traumatic injuries than kids in those countries. We don’t have a culture of child brides and women being burned to death by their husbands.

You can glamorize other cultures or you can simply recognize the differences and realize the maturity of those children have come at a high price. What would you pay for your child’s innocence?

MR. X December 28, 2010, 5:21 PM


Um.. December 30, 2010, 11:02 AM

KS, less traumatic injuries? Considering how royally mentally screwed up the American kids are, I’d 100% opt OUT of the American culture. The Mexicans are doing just fine.

KS December 30, 2010, 6:20 PM

UM: Do you really believe that the drug cartels running Mexico aren’t creating rampant occurrences of PTSD in children and adults. Nothing like killing every police officer in an entire town to instill tranquility, confidence and a peaceful society.

If you want to discuss traumatic injuries to children such as the horrific burns that result from children falling into the open fires used to cook family meals in Afghanistan for instance, lets do that.

Or what about the mental trauma of working in a field as a child then being sent to America (without speaking a word of English)as a teenager for the sole purpose of sending your wages back to your family, a common practice in Mexico.

Or how about the anguish of watching your mother preform a c section on herself because she has no access to medical care. I’m sure that’s would cause a few mental problems don’t you. These are just a few of the things children from these countries have to witness and live through.

Or being sold to a distant family member as slave labor and raped for the remainder of your childhood. Being denied access to education and being impregnated by the person who enslaved you. I’m sure you could not even imagine the mental instability that would result from that type of horrific life experience. Yet it doesn’t stop you from glorifying cultures that practice these things and this is all well known. You just have to stop hating America for one second to see it.

Lets not even get into the traumatic brain injuries that happen when people hold babies thinking they will be secure then get into a low speed traffic accident. That wont kill your child (most likely) but they will have “mental problems”.

MK January 1, 2011, 12:05 AM

We shouldn’t be commenting on how screwed up the children are, we should be looking at their family dynamics. who/what’s their foundation? Do they have structure? Children need security, routine, balance, and boundaries. Doesn’t matter where they’re from or even how it’s done, but if they are raised properly (which most parents fail to do especially in the US) you will see how much they thrive and grow to become not good but right people. I didn’t grow up in a great home but I decided that my upbringing was going to end with me.

Nike Shox R3 January 9, 2011, 11:49 PM

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Mayra January 22, 2011, 6:26 AM

I agree with the other posters that this is an issue of varying societal norms, but being from Mexico myself I’m really ticked off that you didn’t take into account social class issues at play in the difference you witnessed. Yeah, low-income people in Mexico as with those of any other country may do without certain protections for their children if they simply can’t afford them, or if the economic constraints placed on their communities create looser societal expectations for child safety.

The Mexican class mirrors your own, however, is not particularly different from you as a parent.

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