I was inspired to ask this question, by a recent CAF topic as to whether it is a sin to let a 3 year old play on a trampoline if there is a warning that it is only for “age 6 and up” and the consensus was no, it is an issue of prudence, not sin.
I was also inspired by the recent US news story about an 8 year old boy “borrowing” the family car and driving to McDonalds, and arriving there safely because he learned how to drive from watching YouTube videos. The parents were sleeping at the time and were not charged with any crime.
However, what if the parents had allowed the 8 year old to do this? I certainly know of people in rural areas whose parents let them start driving at very young ages, as young as age 11-12, though I think most such excursions were supervised.
Also, while manufacturer warnings are often motivated more by “risk management” than anything else, some warnings on children’s toys are indeed valid. For example, many toys that are labeled as meant for “age 3 and up” are labeled that way, because they have small parts that present a choking hazard if the child were to put them in the mouth as many who are under age 3 do.
So, what if a parent ignored that warning and let a curious 2 year old play with a toy labeled “age 3 and up” and the child did choke on a part? Would the parent be sinning in that case?
I can think of many other bits of “child safety tips” that parents admit to, or even brag about, ignoring, such as having a child wear a helmet while riding a bike, or not letting a child ride on a parent’s lap in a car, because “I did all that and worse when I was a kid, and I was just fine, so obviously all this sissified advice, is just about those crazy nanny-state liberals wanting to usurp my parental rights”. There was literally a whole topic about this in CAF Parenting once.
So, can extreme imprudence by a parent, ever be a sin? Or is it only a sin if there are actual laws being broken, as the Church teaches we have a duty to follow the law UNLESS it is clearly unjust - and while some libertarians may disagree, I don’t think that a law to, say, put infants in car carriers, is cleariy unjust.