“What’s an example of an acute medical need? Say … your toothache is raging; or else arterial blood is flowing freely despite the tourniquet. OK. The situation is urgent. Run, don’t walk, to the car and get yourself to the hospital. There’s no one at hand to look after the child? OK, take her with you and GO.”
– David Deutsch
From the archives: The original post was posted on 5th October, 2000
“WHY the child doesn’t want to get in her carseat, and so far she has come up with: the little girl doesn’t like to be in it physically. BUT, how do you get a child in a carseat in a Taking Children Seriously way, when there is no other solution? For example, a doctor’s appointment, dental appointment (not routine, but because there is an acute medical need)?”
So let’s see: What’s an example of an acute medical need? Say … your toothache is raging; or else arterial blood is flowing freely despite the tourniquet. OK. The situation is urgent. Run, don’t walk, to the car and get yourself to the hospital. There’s no one at hand to look after the child? OK, take her with you and GO.
But you’re postulating, for some reason, a parent who doesn’t want to do this.
Why? Well obviously, first, says the parent, the child has to get her pullover on (in case it’s cold at the hospital).
… and she has to get her shoes on (because there might be a sign at the hospital saying “no shoes, no shirt, no service”).
The child has to have her hair combed (because what will people in the ER think of the parent whose child looks a mess? surely that’s obvious?).
She has to get into the carseat (well, it’s the law, isn’t it?).
And, of course, she must take her violin and practice it on the journey (this is especially important because if she’s not introduced to it at this early age, she will never catch up). Don’t forget the sheet music and the holder.
All this, whether the child wants to or not.
So, who’s being irrational in this story, the child or the parent? Of course there are solutions to be found. I’d say to that parent: Forget the pullover, the shoes, the comb, the carseat, the violin and the sheet music. Apart from the child and the car keys, stop only to pick up a few handy toys and let her sit in the normal seat for once! Drive to the hospital. Just don’t crash, and no jury will convict you of the carseat offence. In the unlikely event that a policeman sees this heinous offence and stops you, show him the wound and he’ll lead you through the traffic with siren blaring, and you’ll get there faster than if you had used the carseat. And anyway, what if you do get convicted? It was an acute medical need wasn’t it? Pay the damned fine and think yourself lucky!
And afterwards, once the parent’s sense of perspective has been improved by surviving this crisis, she may feel more relaxed about the car seat issue even when there isn’t a medical emergency—not to mention all the other issues. If so, she will find that in non-emergency situations, there are even more solutions available, given a little creativity.
“Or what if there isn’t a friend/neighbor to run errands? I’m just wondering here…”
Well, what if, in addition to no friends, neighbours or delivery services, there aren’t any food shops either—and NO other solution? Then the parent has to eat the child. Right?
- Surely it is necessary to coerce children to avoid them doing unsafe or unethical things?
- Explanations and experience
- Risking coercion due to conflict-aversion