How can I help this mom of 3 whose kids won't keep seatbelts on?


#1

Kids are a first grader, a 2-1/2 or so and a 16-month old. The dad is away on business a lot. Mom doesn't get any respect or obedience from the kids. They drive in a van and are out of her reach in the back, and they know how to unbuckle the carseat belts.

The kids are also very wild and hyper and don't mind her in other contexts. She needs some kind of a basic guide to how to parent and to re-establish authority when it has been out of control so long.

Mom is an immigrant from Mexico and though she knows it's the law here about kids being in carseats, the kids just won't mind her, and then she gives up too easily. She probably doesn't have a lot of peace and quiet to read, so if it could be kind of a concise resource and in Spanish it would be easier for her to get through.

Any help would be appreciated.


#2

your BMV should have the rules in Spanish. If you have a friend in law enforcement who can give you the language there are also on-line translators you can use to explain it to her in words of one syllable: if your child is hurt in the car because you did not restrain them, you face prosecution, having your kids taken away, or even jail.

If you observe her breaking the law the kindest thing may be to call a cop. I would certainly do so if, say, she were drinking. You can't help her at all to discipline her kids if she refuses to discipline her kids. Those people learn the hard way. I work 2 blocks from the courthouse and work closely with colleagues in the family court system--moms like her provide the bulk of the business, from accusations of neglect all the way up to kids in juvy because of the lack of discipline.


#3

Your note concerned me, and please bear with me, but I would like to present three scenarios as to why this situation with this lady is happening:

1) Perhaps she doesn't know how to use the child safety seats correctly. Is it possible for someone to check them out for her, and watch how she is strapping the kids in ------ and also check to make sure the seats are strapped in correctly? If she is in the US from Mexico, it is also possible that she doesn't know how to read or perhaps is quite poor and got the seats on a hand-me-down basis, and does not know how to use them properly. My kids didn't start trying to get out of the chld safety seats until they reached about 5 each. So, perhaps something is amiss in the way the children are being buckled in. It could be that perhaps it's time for some of the members of the church to pool their money together, and get her child safety seats that are not so easily unbuckled.

2) Quite frankly, perhaps someone can quietly and respectfully (not to say you are not being respectful, but respect is a very big thing in the Latino culture) intervene and give her some nice alternatives to child rearing. With the older kids, perhaps she should use a time-out for each of the older kids. The 6-year-old would get 6 minutes, and the 2 1/2 year-old would get 2 1/2 to three minutes time out. Also denying them a favorite toy or a favorite treat for a day or two may help. My kid's pediatrician is also an advocate of speaking to children in a sharp tone to get them to comply ----- not screaming, but speaking with a sharp tonality. We also use the "count to three" method. Tell them to do something, and then count to three. If they don't comply by three, they will get time out, denied a favorite treat or toy. Our son has focusing issues so this is a bit harder for us to get done, but it works wonders on our daughter and other children.

3)You say that she is of Mexican background. Generally, the mothers of Mexico are gentle with their children, but firmly enforce rules. If I may, I live in a city with many different cultures and religions. I've lived here long enough to know that in the Latino culture there is a great, great reverence for the Blessed Mother, and traditionally many women of the Latino culture work on emulating our Blessed Mother in respects to sacrificing for the well-being of their children and their husbands. Even if it means giving up proper nutritional sustenance, so that their children and husband eat well. Remember, this lady is from the same country where our Blessed Mother appeared to Juan Diego during the 16th century ----------- our Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe. That this lady gives up easily, to me is a sign that she may be overwhelmed and/or depressed. Has the Priest or a nun who has a Social Work background approached her, and tried to find out how things are going at home? Is she getting the proper nutrition and/or medical attention? If there is not enough to eat, she may be forgoing proper nutrition so that she and her husband can pay for the necessities. I knew of one Mexican woman who waited to get a important operation because getting the operation meant that her family would have to do without. Perhaps the lady you know needs someone to come in and help her sort things out. Also, if her immigration status is in question, you may want to thread carefully in terms of helping her out. This is why I suggested the priest and/or nun with a social work background. I hope this helps. God bless you for being so concerned for this lady and her family.

Please let us know what happens! God bless!

Heavenly Father, thank You for helping this mother with three little children in the areas they need help in. Also Father, thank You for blessing this mother and her children, and the 3Doctors who posted here. Amen.


#4

Thanks for the thoughtful answers - the lady in question is a devout person, doesn't do drugs or alcohol or anything like that. And the couple are legal immigrants as far as I know. She's a friend of a friend so I don't see her that often.

I asked our mutual friend if the children obey their father, and the friend said yes. I get this sense (again, I just have to intuit because of the limited contact I have with her) that she is very submissive to her husband and perhaps let the two boys be somewhat spoiled too. The baby girl is learning from the brothers' example.

The young lady also is just always in a hurry, always stressed but also sort of resigned to her children's uncontrollability.

I noticed the time recently when I did ride with them (which I hope not to do again, as, which I pray doesn't happen but if there was an accident and the children were hurt or killed it would haunt me forever) - I noticed this time after we arrived at our destination the baby had not been buckled in the entire time (it was night and the baby was relaxed while riding so I had assumed she'd been buckled in).

Not only are the two boys up and down in the van while it's in motion, as soon as it stops at the destination they're out the doors and running all over the place. That's how I noticed the baby girl was not buckled, because she was trying to climb out of her carseat also.

Anyway, getting back to where I was going with this, I had the question in my mind of whether it could be some cultural phenomenon, that maybe the young woman felt inferior as a female, and so was reluctant to discipline her sons.

I just wondered if anyone knew a parenting book in Spanish that has helped others.


#5

[quote="3DOCTORS, post:4, topic:218703"]
Thanks for the thoughtful answers - the lady in question is a devout person, doesn't do drugs or alcohol or anything like that. And the couple are legal immigrants as far as I know. She's a friend of a friend so I don't see her that often.

I asked our mutual friend if the children obey their father, and the friend said yes. I get this sense (again, I just have to intuit because of the limited contact I have with her) that she is very submissive to her husband and perhaps let the two boys be somewhat spoiled too. The baby girl is learning from the brothers' example.

The young lady also is just always in a hurry, always stressed but also sort of resigned to her children's uncontrollability.

I noticed the time recently when I did ride with them (which I hope not to do again, as, which I pray doesn't happen but if there was an accident and the children were hurt or killed it would haunt me forever) - I noticed this time after we arrived at our destination the baby had not been buckled in the entire time (it was night and the baby was relaxed while riding so I had assumed she'd been buckled in).

Not only are the two boys up and down in the van while it's in motion, as soon as it stops at the destination they're out the doors and running all over the place. That's how I noticed the baby girl was not buckled, because she was trying to climb out of her carseat also.

Anyway, getting back to where I was going with this, I had the question in my mind of whether it could be some cultural phenomenon, that maybe the young woman felt inferior as a female, and so was reluctant to discipline her sons.

I just wondered if anyone knew a parenting book in Spanish that has helped others.

[/quote]

No, it is definitely NOT a cultural phenomena. From what you describe, something is very much amiss in this situation. Quite frankly, living in the city that I do, I have been exposed to many women from the Mexican culture and the Latino culture in general. What you are describing is just downright strange. The Latino women that I've come in contact with keep their kids in line, and would never even think for a moment of not securing their children in their safety seats or doing anything so very negligent. From what you tell me, something is very much wrong with this lady. Is it possible that she was or is a victim of domestic violence? Could she perhaps be mildly retarded. It's been my experience that some mildly retarded people are able to carry out certain duties, but unable to make certain (sometimes critical) judgement calls. Something is very much amiss. Does your priest know about this situation? Perhaps he can intervene. If he is unable to, then perhaps a call to your local social work agency will get the ball rolling in the right direction.

Heavenly Father, thank You for looking out for the family in question. Thank You for securing the safety, health and well-being of all. Father only You know what is truly going on in this situation. Thank You Father for Your Holy intervention. Amen.


#6

Sorry but I see this all the time. Kids are left loose in the back seat, or babies are held in the front seat. It sure IS a cultural thing - they don't use seat belts as much if ever in Mexico. Now, with your friend, it's more than that if the kids are running over her in general, but I do see the lack of seat belts for kids ALL the time. I have tried to wave at them and tell them, but many times they speak absolutely NO English and look at me without comprehending what I am trying to say.

If this woman is left alone with the kids and they will not mind, she's going to have a lot of trouble once they get older. They will just ignore her and do what they want.


#7

Prayers for that mother. It must be so difficult to be raising three children (especially the two boys) without daily help and contact with their father. Boys NEED a male influence.

The younger two children should still be in car seats, specifically 5-point harness carseats. I highly doubt the younger two would be able to unbuckle those harnesses.

IMO, if the first grader doesn't cooperate and stay seated and buckled as he should, he too should be in a 5-point harness as well. Many of them, including the Radian and Britax, go up to 80 pounds. My third-grader still doesn't weigh 80 pounds, so that could be an option.


#8

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:6, topic:218703"]
Sorry but I see this all the time. Kids are left loose in the back seat, or babies are held in the front seat. It sure IS a cultural thing - they don't use seat belts as much if ever in Mexico. Now, with your friend, it's more than that if the kids are running over her in general, but I do see the lack of seat belts for kids ALL the time. I have tried to wave at them and tell them, but many times they speak absolutely NO English and look at me without comprehending what I am trying to say.

If this woman is left alone with the kids and they will not mind, she's going to have a lot of trouble once they get older. They will just ignore her and do what they want.

[/quote]

That's true. As funny as it might sound to some, putting on seat belts is a cultural thing. Some cultures unfortunately don't take safety that seriously as others.


#9

Thanks for the perspectives. I was reluctant to sound as if I was criticizing her culture, which I certainly am not as obviously I have close friends of Mexican origin and I love their culture and am honored when (as was the case when I rode with them) they invite me to their devotions to Our Lady of Guadalupe and other gatherings.

I did do some Googling and found a few tips on car seat strategies and the different types of car seats. Never had kids of my own so they seemed as complex as fighter aircraft to me. When I was tiny, a "car seat" was a little flimsy thing made of vinyl-covered cardboard with no restraints whatsoever. At 3 months I was tumbled out of mine according to my mom; fortunately it was in slow-moving traffic and I was not seriously hurt.

This young lady of whom I speak is definitely not mentally retarded, she is simply overwhelmed. I think her personality is just not assertive, and she has to do so much on her own. Think I will pray for her husband, for one thing, to be enlightened - he has a lot of irons in the fire.

It is easy for some men to get over-concerned with the financial end of providing for their family that they neglect the practical and interpersonal end. This seems to be what is going on here. I've met him, he seems like a perfectly decent guy, but I think he expects her to do so much and she doesn't question his lack of support in these areas where it would do so much good.

Would appreciate prayer that I can help this young family avoid an unnecessary tragedy, that God will guide me toward anything I can to help. Somehow this lady in all areas needs to gain the respect and obedience of her children to avoid great rebellion and heartache when they are older. Right now when they disobey, all she can do sometimes is yell and threaten but they ignore her. It's going to go downhill if something doesn't change, I fear.


#10

[quote="3DOCTORS, post:9, topic:218703"]
...Right now when they disobey, all she can do sometimes is yell and threaten but they ignore her. ...

[/quote]

That's not just a car seat problem--it's a parenting problem if all she can do is yell and threaten. That's not all that a parent can do. She can follow through on her threats. The children may have some other underlying other issues, but regardless of that, this mom needs to learn that yelling and threatening are not effective ways to discipline children.


#11

I agree. Yelling and threatening are last resorts of a desperate person. What I would like is to help her find solid assertiveness and authority so that she can act out of a place of confidence. She really does love her children, she just needs the "nuts and bolts" of more effective parenting skills, and like I said, though she can get by in English, I think it would be easier for her to read something in Spanish.

I know there are Catholic parenting experts out there who have written books. Perhaps some of the EWTN folks, or others, and I wonder if any of their books have been translated. This I think will be my next search.


#12

That's true. As funny as it might sound to some, putting on seat belts is a cultural thing. Some cultures unfortunately don't take safety that seriously as others.

as funny as it may sound American's own use of seatbelts is a fairly new cultural thing. tilll 20 years ago, we didnt take safety that seriously either, i guess. we never used seatbelts when we were kids. as late as the 80's, when my oldest (age 30) was a little kid, seatbelt use was still optional. he almost fell out of the moving car once, un-belted.

while seatbelts might be deal-braking issue for this mom (i.e., she gets ticketed, her kids get hurt etc.) it seems seatbelting is a single issue in a continuum of ineffective parenting. surely her friends can help her find a parenting mentor (Latino or otherwise) somewhere in your neighborhood? an older mom-- a non-peer.


#13

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