Dear Savvy Auntie,

I have a niece (17 months), and a nephew (3 years), who travel six hours to where I live once a month with their dad. And while I love my brother, he tends to leave Bee unchanged for a good five hours or so, lets them play with electrical wiring, electrical sockets, gives my niece small candy that she could easily choke on (he says she's smart enough to not choke on it), and he doesn't mind if they play near the road. He also doesn't become concerned when they wander a little bit into the road either!

I know I'm just an Auntie, and a young one at that, but I seriously want to pull my hair out at how careless he can be with them! I'm always having to look out for them and pull them away from dangerous things or items, like knives or sharp scissors that are left laying around. I almost feel like a parent myself with how often I have to keep an eye on them while my brother does whatever, thinking they know better not to do certain things. I've tried giving him advice on what could really cause them harm, but he just yells at me for it, saying I'm not their mom. And that's very true. I'm not meaning to be a parent, but I'm just trying to make sure that they stay safe. Is there another approach to trying to keep my favorite little ones safe and happy without my brother throwing a fit about my advice? Or maybe I really am just being... well, bossy? Paranoid?

Safety Ensuring Auntie

Dear Safety Ensuring Auntie,

Your brother must have very strong feelings for you to travel six hours every month for a visit. Traveling with little ones is really difficult! So, although he poo-poos your safety advice he must enjoy and value your company. Keep in mind that men tend to be more relaxed about safety and often are even cavalier about rules and regulations. Also, remember the children spend most of their time in their own home and you have no control over their safety there. Hopefully, their mom is alert and aware. It is true that some children are naturally more cautious and savvy about danger; so, try to observe them and see if they are this type.

What can you do on a practical level? First of all, childproof your home! Remove all sharp objects, eliminate small (if not all) candy, and get those wire “cases” and socket stoppers. Second of all, go to your local bookstore and buy the best reference book you can find for childhood emergencies… what to do for cuts, burns, choking etc. Give it to your brother. This will be an objective wake up call to what can happen; but, more importantly what to do if accidents happen.

You say you are young, but you sound quite mature and sensible.

Best of luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield

Published: June 21, 2011 ,

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