Parents should lay down the law on bike helmets
DEAR ABBY: As a law enforcement officer, I would like to comment on your reply to “Overprotective Mom” (Dec. 26). I agree with your solution to have the boy who wouldn’t wear his bike helmet because it was “uncool” visit a facility that treats people with traumatic brain injuries. However, you missed a golden opportunity to remind parents that they are the parents, and because they are responsible for their child’s safety, THEY are in charge!
What has happened to plain old “parenting”? Time and again, I see children make their own rules because the parents have shrugged off the responsibility of parenting. You should have told them to tell their child that if he won’t wear a helmet, his bike will be taken away until he does. -- BILL IN BARTLESVILLE, OKLA.
DEAR BILL: You and many readers are right. I DID overlook the issue of parenting in my reply. Mea culpa! Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Have “Overprotective Mom” ask her son if he thinks firefighters, fighter pilots, police officers and football players are “uncool.” They all wear helmets! -- JAMES IN HASTINGS, NEB.
DEAR ABBY: Not wearing a bike helmet to be “cool” is knuckling under to peer pressure. Those parents should use this opportunity to explain peer pressure and its consequences to their son.
He needs to understand that he must make decisions for himself, and his “friends” should accept him for who he is. He needs to learn to stand his ground and be who he wants to be despite what others think of him. He also needs to learn to make decisions that affect his life based on facts, and not follow the crowd. True friends will most often make the same sound decisions that he makes, or accept his decision without pressuring him.
One other comment: Require the kid to wear a helmet or forfeit the right to ride a bike. It’s called “tough love” and although it is tough, it is also rewarding. More parents need to have sound, well-thought-out rules and stick to them. -- PARENT FIRST, FRIEND SECOND
DEAR ABBY: Patients cannot be used as exhibits, even with the best of intentions. It would be unethical and also illegal under HIPAA laws. A better option would be to contact the injury prevention office at a local children’s hospital and ask for tips. If your readers don’t live near one, there are websites filled with helpful information. -- LAURIE IN DALLAS
DEAR ABBY: It’s true that there is no state code law in Texas regarding bicycle helmets, but many municipalities, including Dallas, have ordinances that require riders to wear them. That mother should check her city code. -- CONCERNED IN TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: “Overprotective” should let her son choose a “cool” helmet and be sure it’s fitted correctly. Going to a bike shop may be the best bet.
Serious bikers are cool and will be supportive. The boy should select the style and color he wants and decorate it with hot stickers or whatever he wishes. If that doesn’t work, then take the bike away. It’s the kind of cause-and-effect discipline that really works. -- BARBARA IN RUMFORD, MAINE
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.