A Parent Mocked Me For Having My Six-Year-Old In A Car Seat. Her Reason Is Dangerous

As my daughter, Addi climbed into her car seat at school pick up, a parent of one of her classmates who was parked next to us looked over.

“Oh my God. Is she still in a car seat? She’s a little bit big don’t you think?” she scoffed at me. I paused in disbelief, giving her time to fill the silence with another remark.

“Jackson* was out of a car seat over a year ago, he doesn’t need to be in one, he’s too tall,” she proudly announced.

Her gloating tone seemed to suggest that car seats and graduating from them is some pinnacle of parental success and child development; something that Addi and I were clearly failing at.

Shona with her daughter Addie. Image: Supplied

Before I even had a chance to gather my thoughts or muster a response, she smiled, jumped in her car and drove away. Stunned by the encounter, I took time to research and confirm what I was thinking was actually correct.

As it turns out, it was.

Now, since I have shared my viewpoint with the parent in question, I will also share it here because this incident is representative of a larger issue -- that being children are being removed from car seats or booster seats far too early, and it is putting them in danger.

In fact, a recent survey from the Royal Children’s Hospital showed that this is far too commonplace.

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Two-thirds of children aged between seven and 10 were not sitting in the correct booster seats, and 50 per cent of children aged between seven and 12 were sitting in the front of the car -- both of which are against key safety guidelines.

Australian law specifies that all children aged between four and seven are required to be seated in a booster seat or a forward-facing child restraint with an inbuilt harness.

The minimum height for a child to be seated on the inbuilt car seats with an adult seat-belt is 145cm, usually reached between the ages of 10 to 12.

Shona Hendley. Image: Supplied

This height might seem trivial, until you understand that adult seatbelts are designed for this measurement as their absolute minimum height.

That means if you place a person who is even a couple of centimetres short of this in the seat, the seatbelt will not work effectively, and can cause more serious injuries if you're in a crash.

My daughter Addi is six years old, and although she is tall for her age -- standing at 130cm -- she is still well beneath the minimum height requirement of 145cm to ditch the booster seat.

So having this ‘car seat judgement’ placed upon me was both unnecessary and completely misguided.

Shona's two daughters. Image: Supplied

Mother and blogger, Jen McLellan, shared her experience of a booster seat saving her nine-year-old son's life on her Plus Mommy Facebook page.

“On Sunday I received the phone call you never want to get -- a call from my husband that he and my son had been in a terrible car accident… An SUV ran a red light, and my husband t-boned them…" she wrote.

Paramedics were surprised how well my son was after seeing the car wreck. They said he would've been far more injured had he not been in a booster.

Jen, added she had gotten into many arguments with her nine-year-old about him not wanting to be in a booster because his friends don't use one.

"I'm forever thankful I never budged. At the ER and follow-up appointment with my son's paediatrician, medical providers echoed what the paramedics said -- thank goodness he was in a booster!” she added.

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There seems to be an interpretation of safety guidelines as give or take and a belief that car seats or boosters are not needed at a particular age.

Yet I, like Jen, would much rather look uncool, be scoffed at and have arguments with my child than have them seriously injured (or worse) because I moved them out of their car seat too early.

* Names have been changed to maintain privacy. 

Featured image: Supplied