Playground inattentiveness equals inevitable disaster
DEAR MARIANN: Recently I have noticed the increasing number of “play areas” for children, especially at shopping malls and several fast-food restaurant locations. Since these are not supervised by a mall worker or restaurant employee, it alarms me to see so many kids unattended. What is your advice to parents regarding this?
MARIANN’S RESPONSE: Considering the number of high-profile kidnapping cases within the last few years of children who were in their own neighborhood, let alone at a high-traffic, quick exit environments such as a mall, it amazes me that some parents seem so nonchalant about their children’s safety. Seemingly it is inevitable that a kidnapping will someday occur from one of these unsupervised venues before needed attention is focused on this issue. “Depositing” children in a strange environment poses incredible danger and unneeded temptation to those who have problematic tendencies. Even though I did not have children, by accompanying my parents in public when I was very young, whether it was shopping, church or to an expensive restaurant, I learned how to act respectfully in public. Without those opportunities and our society’s fixation on technology and video games as substitution for parental interaction, my opinion is that we are robbing our children of an opportunity to learn appropriate decorum in social venues and essential communication skills.
Parents, if you don’t want children to accompany you during these shopping trips, please find a “play date” for those hours you will be away or a babysitter if they are too young to leave alone at home. However, I have fond memories of shopping with my parents especially since my father was a “clothes nut” unlike most men. It might be an equally memorable experience for children if you ask them their opinion about potential purchases, thus giving them a sense of belonging and pride that you are soliciting their input during shopping trips.
For those parents who leave their children in a fast-food play area unattended, my suggestion is to please be more attentive to your kids versus text-messaging or chatting with other parents. Injuries are not uncommon in these communal play areas, let alone the questionable cleaning of the equipment that potentially could expose children to more germs than needed. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 200,000 U.S. kids ages 14 and younger are treated in hospital emergency rooms from playground injuries, with 2 percent of those occurring in fast-food play areas. That doesn’t sound like many, but it still equates to 4,000 children who needed medical care, probably when their parents were distracted either by conversation or technology.
DEAR MARIANN: Someone I know seems to be “losing it” from what I would guess is dementia. Speaking to the person directly about my concerns would not be met with much appreciation since they are quite prideful, but without other family members in this area, I am unsure of what to do next to help this person before the situation becomes worse.
MARIANN’S RESPONSE: As “baby boomers” age, this scenario is likely to increase dramatically, especially since half of us will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s if we reach age 85, according to the National Institute on Aging. The Alzheimer’s Association calculates that presently, 5.4 million Americans are living with this disease.
My suggestion is to contact this person’s children, pastor, rabbi, or doctor. Explaining your concerns in a factual yet sympathetic tone will demonstrate that you are truly concerned about this older individual. Also explaining the situation to the county agency that services older adults might be beneficial.
Delaware County has an excellent Senior Center on Cheshire Road, just south of the city. Their staff is comprised of a variety of trained professionals, including social workers who are excellent in addressing older adult health and mental issues and determining appropriate legal action if there is a question of safety. Meeting with one of their clinicians would be a good first step in finding help for this declining individual before an inevitable tragedy occurs, especially if they are still driving.
Mariann Main is a Licensed Counselor and a Delaware native. Her column appears weekly on Wednesdays. To submit a question and have Mariann answer it anonymously, visit delgazette.com/life-questions-with-local-answers or send mail to the Delaware Gazette office, 40 N. Sandusky St., suite 203, Delaware, OH 43015.