Saturday, April 5, 2014

Fatherhood and "danger" in the US

Standing on the edge having just climbed the retaining wall

In China I somewhat prided myself in the fact that we let our son do things that many Chinese parents and grandparents simply would not let their kids do. I liked that my son did "dangerous" things like jumping off ledges twice as tall as himself, climbing ladders a month after he started walking, putting sand on his head, running on the grass. (Yes, I've actually heard Chinese grandparents tell their grandchildren not to run while on grass because it's dangerous.)

Now in the US I find myself nervous. I know CPS employees and hear their stories. I hear other parents comment about what kids can and can't do. I feel like I'm on a fence, trying not to fall off into the "irresponsible parent" side.

Here are some questions I've found myself asking, some to myself and some out loud, some more ridiculous than others:

  • If I get a tricycle for my son, will he need a bike helmet?
  • Is it okay that I let him run around the backyard shoeless, knowing that there are occasional sand burrs in the grass?
  • Can I just let him play in the mud in the mostly dry creek bed?
  • People won't think we're neglecting him because his hair is long, will they?
  • It's okay to let him climb up the retaining wall, right?
  • Should I tell him not to walk on top of the retaining wall?
  • Will I get blamed if he gets bit by a snake or a black widow?

I know why I'm nervous. It seems all Chinese have heard the story (it may have been a movie) of a Chinese parent losing custody of their children in the US after giving the child a cupping treatment. Cupping is thought to prevent certain illnesses, and the process leads to large bruises. In the US, this was considered abuse. I've been asked by many Chinese, "Is this true? Would police really take away children for this?"

I don't know if CPS would take children away for cupping or not. If so, it really reveals a lack of cultural knowledge and a hypersensitive idea of what constitutes a danger to a child's wellbeing.

But could they? It has me worried. How crazy is it in the US now?

The scary thing is that I don't know. The funny thing is also that I don't know.

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