How Do Parents Reconcile Concerns about Violence with Child Care Needs?

 

It was difficult for me to relinquish control over my toddler's daily care a year ago. I struggled for months beforehand with the idea of trusting that others might be able to see to her safety and well-being as well as I could. However, since returning to graduate studies and income work, I have discovered that I love our current arrangement. For our family, having the additional income security has been critical. Also, having my studies to retain and develop my identity as an advocate has invigorated and sustained me, and I look forward to the example I will set for my child/ren by earning my degree. Finally, I have been so pleased to watch as my child develops academic skills and a vibrant social life.

Then, Friday's terrible news proved devastating to me and everyone I know. Violence of such a nature and magnitude is overwhelming and heartbreaking. Like most others, I certainly would have experienced a powerful response even if I were not a parent. As a parent, the scenario presents additional layers of complicated feelings and concerns to process. I feel like I all the progress I had made toward feeling confident that my family had arrived at a safe and ideal balance between income needs, educational goals and child care needs has been undone.

Parenting

Gun violence in the United States is significantly higher than in other developed nations. In 2005, 11,346 people were killed by guns and another 477,040 were victims of non-lethal crimes committed with guns (http://www.nij.gov). In comparison, the annual number of people murdered by firearm in Canada, for example, is approximately 200. "America sees far more gun violence than countries in Europe, and Canada, India and Australia," as well as Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and many others. In fact, "the United States has the highest rate of gun related injuries . . . among developed countries." U.S. violence statistics seem to represent a complex confluence of unique factors including journalism ethics, mental health awareness and funding, and gun legislation. In such a society, it is difficult to essentially send my child each day into a public workplace setting without me where regardless of the background checks of staff, their family members, friends, and romantic acquaintances all present unknown risk factors.

I do recognize my anxiety these last few days as being a natural response to the grief we all share in the wake of an almost unimaginable event. That said, the parent in me grapples with where to draw the line on the continuum ranging from recognizing my fears as being not entirely rational, to considering alternative child care arrangements like shared care with other parents, working nights, reducing income needs, eventual homeschooling (which I otherwise wouldn't prefer), or even relocating to someplace with lower violent crime statistics.

Am I normal, or thinking too much?

- Sarah

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