Summer Safety Tips, Part 3
by Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
It may seem strange to find the topic of “family dynamics” under Summer Safety Tips, but stay with me on this one.
Holidays are surely a time of stress for many due to increased expectations to spend time with family. Summer, though, in my personal and professional experience is equally stressful, if not more so. The Thanksgiving/Christmas period, at most, usually lasts about 4-6 weeks. Summer, on the other hand, is about 8-12 weeks of expectations of cookouts, Fourth of July parties, beach parties, bonfires, birthdays….and the expectation tends to be, “since it is summer, of course you can come!”
It is my wish that you could enjoy every minute of summer fun, but let me call your attention to “Why Summer Can Be Bad For Kids.” ….not to be a killjoy….
– When parents are stressed, children are stressed. Some children act out (behavioral issues) and some children act in (emotional issues) when their adults are stressed. Talk about plans ahead of time. Your husband might not want to go to your mother’s house for the 3rd week in a row for a cookout. You might want to stay at your mother-in-law’s cookout for 2 hours, not 6.
– If cousin Sally typically has too much to drink and starts wobbling around the guests, better to talk with your husband ahead of time to decide if and how to handle this around your children if it should occur.
– If you are so fortunate as to have mature older cousins as role models for your children that is awesome!
Sadly, all too often, it is an older cousin to leads a younger child astray with negative behavior lessons.
Statistics are becoming overwhelmingly alarming that the numbers of older cousins/youth relatives are luring younger children into both, negative behavior and sexual situations. It is too common that the older cousin relationship is by default a trusted situation; they are family and you are on the property (often they are congregating apart from the adults). However, in this situation, the older youth often knows HOW LIKELY it is that an adult will enter their space. Adults, since they are blindly trusting family, don’t tend to check on the kids. Many of us have very lovely and loving children who would never be that “dangerous cousin,” but don’t take unnecessary chances. It was once a “trusted cousin” who lit the woods on fire and sent the younger children running back for a bucket of water.
Staying Too Long
– Know your child. Know your husband. Know yourself. It’s better to leave wishing it could have stayed longer and longing for the next get-together, than to stay too long. What could be worse than having had a
good time with family and a big fight on the way home because the little ones are melting down.
– Many adults have “issues” with a parent or sibling. For the sake of “family” and “fun” many people set these “issues” to the side. Be aware of buttons that could be pushed and how you plan to handle this. The event could be “uneventful”, i.e. no major blowouts, however you leave feeling terrible.
– When there is lots of family around, it is easier to assume that someone is watching the children at any given time. Not necessarily. Keep an eye on your little ones.
– When there is a lot of commotion, there are likely to be dangers that no one is thinking of; hot grills, knives, open doors or gates, pets, alcoholic beverages….Stay on your toes.
Stress is bad for kids and accidents and oversights are much more likely to occur when there is stress
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