Why I Refuse to Apologize for My 9-Year-Old's Car Seat

Why I Refuse to Apologize for My 9-Year-Old's Car Seat

Why one mom still uses a car seat for her third-grader, despite criticism.

By: Maria Mora

I was 26 years old and pregnant when I opened up a message board on my lunch break and saw the devastating news. A fellow mother on my April due date board had lost her preschooler in a horrific car accident. I knew I should look away, but I kept reading. The details still haunt me nearly 10 years later.

He'd been sitting in a booster seat. The seatbelt had failed, and he'd been ejected from the car. As she told the story, the grieving mother begged those reading to research car seat safety and consider using a five-point harness for as long as possible.

Today, my third-grader isn't in a five-point harness anymore, but he still sits in a high back booster that's attached to my vehicle via the LATCH system. As far as I can tell, he's the only kid in his class who still sits in this kind of car seat. He's tall, but very thin. It's completely comfortable for him. But I've faced passive-aggressive criticism for keeping him in a booster seat for so long. On a recent road trip with extended family, I spent much of the time stone-faced and upset after being told my kids’ car seats were ridiculous and unnecessary.

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I won't apologize. There are very few things I can control as a mom. I can't control whether we get in a car wreck or how devastating it might be. But I can control the type of safety precautions I use in the car. It seems like such a simple step to take for a little peace of mind. I think any mom can sympathize with the fears that grip parents. Those fears, the bogeymen who invade our quiet moments, are different for each of us. For you it might be drowning, furniture tipping, or choking. These fears are largely irrational. A very small percentage of children are injured in these kinds of accidents. As moms, we recognize this, but we still take the precautions necessary not only to keep our children safe but also to keep our minds at ease.

It's a small price to pay.


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My third-grader rides in a car seat. He isn't embarrassed by it yet, and I'm grateful for that. The truth is, in a year or so he'll outgrow even that booster -- or I'll finally get tired of having it in my back seat. And before I know it he'll be a teen driver and I'll have more fears to work through, one leap of faith at a time.

For now, the seat belt placed snugly across his chest at the right height is like a barrier between me and that unknown, scary future.

Maria Mora is a single mom, editor, and hockey fanatic. She lives with her two sons in Florida.

Image via NHTSA

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