Bumbo Blame: Why Must We Always Point Fingers?

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For the most part, product recalls don't affect me much. Either I'm using recalled items and I'm unaware of the recall, or I just don't happen to own many things that have been recalled.

The recent Bumbo recall is so aggravating to me, because I love our Bumbo seat (see my full rant here) and I hope to continue using it for Baby #2, who is expected to arrive this November.

What bothers me even more, however, is the negative media response to this; one that seeks to place the blame on someone. Many people are defending the Bumbo seat, but at the cost of blaming the parents for irresponsibility or inattention. In some cases I am sure children fell from Bumbo seats because parents were truly being inattentive -- but even this does not indicate the need to point fingers.

Bumbo

Many people I know have had their babies roll to the floor from full-size beds because the child had been set down while Mommy got dressed, or put away laundry, or something like that, and she wanted baby to be somewhere close to watch. In all of these cases, the baby had never before rolled over, and had suddenly decided to practice two feet off the floor. The fact that we won't recall beds is a given, but will we also blame these parents for being irresponsible?

That seems a little extreme to me.

It also seems dangerous to me to start pointing fingers when something bad happens, because what if something bad happens to our own children? Trust me, we can't avoid every possibility, and laying guilt doesn't make anything "better." It doesn't make us more responsible parents for criticizing others.

I have a cousin who lost her daughter to a popcorn kernel that had been wedged into the carpet of their living room from when a babysitter had been over days earlier. The floor had been vacuumed, and as far as anyone knew there was nothing left behind. Her 8-month-old daughter found a popcorn kernel, however, and put it in her mouth. Then, as she was walking along the coffee table, she fell and gasped -- inhaling the kernel. After living with severe brain damage from the lack of oxygen she experienced at this time, she died shortly after her second birthday.

My cousin didn't notice her daughter pick up the kernel and put it in her mouth, so we could blame her for being inattentive. But that means that, as parents, we need to make sure that our eyes are on our children -- all of them -- 100% of the time, which would make doing things like dishes, making supper, and just about anything else a little bit difficult. It takes about one second for a child to pop something into their mouths, which means that all parents should not even pull their eyes from their children for one second or we would be hypocrites. I should note also that she had three kids, all of whom were under three at the time.

We could also blame her for having the popcorn kernel in her house at all. But this means we would all have to make sure that our house contained nothing -- absolutely nothing: no beans, no popcorn, no beads or small Lego bits, no coins, etc. that could potentially be a choking hazard to our children. My cousin was unaware of the popcorn because it had been eaten by the babysitter, and she knew for certain that her living room had been vacuumed prior to this incident. She was shocked to discover at the hospital that it had even been popcorn.

We could also blame her for leaving her children with a babysitter. But then we would all have to follow this example as well, and despite how much we trust someone, people can always make mistakes.

Or, we could point fingers at the babysitter, for being so careless.

OR...

We could realize that sometimes horrible things happen, despite our best efforts.

Sometimes children die, and although we COULD point fingers and say that something could have been done differently, without knowing the outcome, everyone's choices may have still been the same.

Both my cousin and the babysitter have to live with the choices they made that day, and as a mother who WILL make mistakes with my children (because I am not a perfect person), I hope neither of them feel any guilt. I hope no one points fingers at them in hostility, because none of that will bring that baby girl back to life. Will my cousin and that babysitter be more careful about certain things in the future? Probably, but it won't prevent all accidents from occurring, because that's what it was -- an accident.

A horrible, sad accident.

And no one should be "blamed."

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