Guilty Parent

Now I have a better taste of what it’s like for parents who bring there child into the Emergency Room. I recognize in certain situations that they may have some guilt that they caused their child’s problem, or that they didn’t respond or recognize it soon enough. Now, I have my own stories, and really feel for those parents.

A few weeks ago, my own son dislocated his elbow.  I do a lot to reassure parents that this happens all the time.  I tell them how to avoid it, and not to feel too guilty.  Telling the last couple of families I saw in the Urgent Care with the same injury that it happened to my son last week seemed to make them feel better.  Hopefully, they got the “it can happen to anyone” feeling and not “it’s ok, the pediatrician is just as bad of a parent as I am” feeling!

The other day, I had a mishap which gave me the Guilty Parent feeling.  It was worse than the, “I can’t believe I banged the babies head into the door way” kind of feeling that passes when you realize the baby is ok, because it didn’t pass.  (I’m not necessarily admitting to any glancing blows to my babies).

I felt so bad, I couldn’t get it out of my head (even though it really wasn’t a big deal).  I can only imagine what it’s like for a parent with a child who has a serious injury that could have been prevented.  I have seen parents feel bad for injuries that really were just bad luck and couldn’t reasonably have been avoided (at least that’s what I tell myself when my toddler gets his weekly head injury).  No, this was a nausea inducing, talking to myself, feeling horrible kind of feeling for just a little thing.

So what happened?

We were in the grocery store and my nearly 2 year old said “stuck”.

“Yes you’re stuck, that’s what the little seatbelt is for.”

He kept saying “stuck”.

“Sorry Buddy, you need to have the seatbelt on.  You need to stay in the cart”.

“Yes, you’re supposed to be stuck” I kept repeating every time he whined.

He got whinier and whinier.  Mom broke down and gave him her cell phone with the toddler distracting app on it. Even that didn’t stop the whining.   He was holding it at a kind of a funny angle though. Mom finally notice his little wrist was stuck between the bars of the shopping cart!

Of course I don’t feel guilty that he got stuck.  I feel guilty that I told my little guy, who is still practically an infant, “too bad you’re stuck!” and basically told him his feelings don’t count.

I’ve seen it before in the Urgent Care.  I’ve seen parents feeling horrible that they ignored their kids who told them something was really wrong.  (I also see the parents who say to their kids “See, I told you it wasn’t broken!” but that’s another problem).  Now, I’ve lived it.

So parents, I don’t have to tell you.  Injuries, illnesses, bad stuff will happen.  Learn from it, like any mistake, to help prevent future mistakes in your kids or others.  Share your experiences, so others can learn from them too, like I have.   And be kind to those who parents who do mess up, because to some degree it could happen to you.





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