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How Far Would You Go to Give Unsolicited Parenting Advice?

Photograph by Twenty20

I came across a mom with her toddler on the subway in New York City the other day. My daughter and I were on our way home when I noticed that the child wasn't properly secured in his stroller. I debated in my head whether or not to say something to this woman. The thought of the little boy falling out onto the train tracks or onto the subway platform scared me. My son isn’t much older, and as his mom I would jump through hoops to make sure he’s safe. I can only imagine that this mom would do the same for her little one.

I finally tapped the woman on the shoulder and politely mentioned that her son’s harness wasn't fastened all the way. The belt was secured around one leg while the other leg was free, and the shoulder straps laid flat against the back of the stroller.

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The little boy sat directly in front of the doors. He kept leaning forward and swaying from side to side, which made me even more uneasy. I couldn't believe it when she told me, "Oh, he's fine. He won't get out."

I smiled nervously and said, "Okay. It just makes me nervous because the subway doors keep opening and closing."

I'm usually against giving unsolicited parenting advice, but this was an extreme case. There are so many instances when a child isn't properly secured in a car seat, which often end up in tragedy.

Although I usually oppose getting—and giving—unsolicited parenting advice, all bets are off when it comes to a child’s safety.

Even though this isn't a car seat situation, the safety concerns of a child not being secured properly are very much the same. Granted, the speed of someone pushing a stroller doesn’t compare to the high speed impact of a car crash, but a child can still be seriously injured if he or she falls out of a stroller.

I’m not sure why this mom refused to secure all the straps in her son’s stroller. I can’t understand why she appeared so careless. She obviously didn’t think it was a big deal. But I couldn’t stand there and stay silent. I somehow became an advocate for her little boy in that moment.

Although I usually oppose getting—and giving—unsolicited parenting advice, all bets are off when it comes to a child’s safety. Let’s be clear: I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a perfect parent. I make mistakes just like everyone else.

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There have been times when I was completely oblivious to those mistakes, like the time someone told me my toddler wasn’t secured properly in her car seat. My 2-year-old daughter would slip her arms out during the car ride and often fell asleep. I took a picture one day and posted it on social media when someone expressed concern in a private message.

Normally, I’d ignore a message like that. But, I couldn’t disregard this Mom’s concern. Honestly, I didn’t think about the horrible consequences until she reached out to me. I’m glad she gave me a reality check when she did. Who knows what could have happened if my little girl continued to slip out of her harness.

I guess in some way I was paying it forward when I saw the mom with her son on the subway. Hopefully, our encounter gave her pause and made her think twice about securing her son in his stroller properly in the future.

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