The latest conflict in The Teen Wars at my house revolves around our insistence that our 13-year-old daughter wear a bike helmet when she rides. Unfortunately, her insistence that no one her age wears a helmet seems to be true.
Every day I see kids riding to our middle school with hair flying, unencumbered by the less than comfy – and more importantly, dorky and unsightly – likes of a safety helmet. While I believe parents have the right to make helmet use mandatory or optional, it makes my life as a parent a lot more difficult.
Yet a quick check of statistics reveals that cycling without a helmet is just plain dangerous. According to The New York Times,
cycling accidents played a role in about 86,000 of the 447,000 sports-related head injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2009. Football accounted for 47,000 of those head injuries, and baseball played a role in 38,394.
Cycling was also the leading cause of sports-related head injuries in children under 14, causing 40,272 injuries, roughly double the number related to football (21,878).
There are so many decisions as a parent that are hard to make, harder to enforce. At 13, my daughter is at the height of self-consciousness. There is nothing worse to a middle school child than to stand out. She has already reported to me that her friends laugh at her for having to wear her bike helmet. And I feel bad for her, I really do. But not bad enough to back down from a rule I find necessary for her own health and safety.
I realize that life is never risk free. But as my children navigate their way to adulthood, I want to know that I have taken every reasonable precaution to protect them on their way.
So whether she likes it or not, helmet head it is for this 13-year-old. I hope she one day thanks me when she is a parent herself. Until then, I will know I have done my job helping her live to see that day.