Toddler Swallows Screwdriver But Let's Not Blame Parents


The first instinct we all have when we hear a horrible story about a child falling in a pool or eating poison or tumbling from a window is to blame the parents. It's only natural. We all want to believe it couldn't happen to us, so we deem the parents "bad parents" and move on. And yet, it's just not the truth.

A 2-year-old girl from Colorado just had to have surgery to remove a 3.5-inch screwdriver from her large intestine. The eyeglass screwdriver had become lodged there after she swallowed it.

They're very lucky she is alive. And before everyone starts berating the parents asking how she got a screwdriver, it's important to ask yourself why you want to jump to that.

Do you want to feel superior? Prove you're the better parents? Do you want to hide behind some mask of perfection because you're scared to admit this could happen to you? Why is it that so many of us feel the need to berate the parents when we hear about tragedies or near-misses?

The fact is toddlers are curious and some (like my daughter) are more likely than others to put things in their mouths. We all know our own children and most of us DO watch them like hawks and never let them out of our sight. But phones ring and siblings need snacks and dogs pee in the kitchen (or maybe that's just mine). Things happen that distract us momentarily, and in that moment, things happen.

When my children were tiny, my 2.5-year-old found a closed pocket knife her father had inadvertently left on the foyer table after removing it from his pocket. She picked up the heavy thing and proceeded to bash her 1-year-old brother in the head. I was right there in the room, but far enough away that I didn't see it happening. He was fine. The knife was closed. He didn't even have a mark. But we were very lucky.

It's way too easy to say the knife shouldn't have been there, but that is so obvious. Of course, it should have been put away, but when you're a parent, things happen. Maybe these parents were repairing some glasses when they were distracted and got up, leaving the work to do later, and their daughter wandered in and swallowed it. That could happen to anyone. It's hardly as if they let her sleep at night (unsupervised) on a bed of broken glass. They're parents and life happens.

Thank goodness their little girl is OK and we can all be thankful for that.

Do you blame the parents?


Image via James Bowe/Flickr

a mom's life, boys, safety


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nonmember avatar Kayty

I think its easy to blame parents when an accident happens because we feel so guilty when something happens to our child that is a complete accident. I have an 18 month old son who is beyond active. I am also 9 months pregnant and expecting a baby any day now. I can't watch him constantly, and this leads to accidents. I am pretty good at keeping the house in a generally safe condition, but things happen. When I read stories like this, its not so much that I blame the parents, but I feel better knowing that I am not the only mom who "lets" crazy things happen. I try to prevent every accident I can, but when one does happen, I feel like its all my fault. Perhaps we just assume that since we take the blame when something happens to our own children, every other parent should too.

JessL... JessLogansMommy

Accidents happen even to good parents.  My 17 month old puts everything in his mouth, and i mean everything he finds.  I can't hold his hand all day long.  He's also a climber so if I leave something on the kitchen table, he climbs up to see what it is.  I would have to keep him in a padded room with nothing but safe toys to keep small things out of his mouth.  

Littl... LittleManMama

I agree. No one can be perfect all the time. All it takes is one moment. You can be in the same room as your kid watching them and they could still fall down and hurt themselves or do something crazy before you can get to them.

PonyC... PonyChaser

No parent blame here, either, but I do have a question...

How does ANYBODY swallow a 3.5 inch screwdriver, let alone a kid who is not even 2 feet tall??? Three-and-a-half-inches, people! That's a half inch longer than my longest finger!!! the heck is wrong with that kid's gag reflex? Why wasn't she puking all over the carpet?


GlowW... GlowWorm889

Nah; kids are sneaky and tend to swallow stuff. My younger sister swallowed a quarter when she was a baby that involved a hospital trip. My parents, my other sister, and I were all sitting there watching a movie, and she managed to swallow it without any of us noticing. She was fine, and after that experience, she was hesitant to put non-food items in her mouth! It happens.

nonmember avatar Chiann

I understand what your saying. I have two totally different toddlers right now running off in two different directions, but I try to explain to my 2 1/2 year old that brother will put dangerous things in his mouth so to put things away when your done so he doesnt eat it. my daughter is very intelligent and is my fourth eyes while dads overseas. But even when my son was only a few months old and couldn't crawl his way to trouble, one night my daughter was eating dinner and my husband and I were in the kitchen, my son was lying down on a blanket in the living room, we didn't expect anything when my daughter got up from the table and went into the living room until my son started screaming, and it was that day I bought her, her first child forks soft grip for the handle and metal for the end, well she had used it to try and stab her brother. Thank god no puncture wounds on his chest but things happen so fast when your thinking your watching em or not. You just have to be a good parent and watch em carefully and take care of them when they need it. Its kids nature to be curios not meaning to get into trouble but it happens.

nonmember avatar Elle

First off, I agree with PonyChaser!! Secondly, no, I don't blame the parents. Things happen...I learned this the hard way when my 5 year old (5 YEARS OLD?! I tHOUGHT WE OUTGREW THIS!!!) swallowed a button cell battery he managed to get out of one of his Christmas toys. Panic (and lots of xrays) ensued, and all came out ok in the end, but ohh my. Lesson learned. Bad things often happen to good parents.

nonmember avatar Berrynoir

Isn't it interesting how phrasing in the media skews the public response? Every other accidental-injury-of-a-child story on here is met by a large number of comments demanding to know where the parents were and immediately, based on nothing else, calling for the child to be removed and placed in foster care. Try not to drop the rational reactions for the next story that doesn't tell you how to react!

nonmember avatar Amy

You need eyes in the back of your head to be a parent lol. Until then expect anything and everything. I can't blame the parents

MBerry7 MBerry7

Love this.  So tired of parents getting blamed for everything.  Sure, there are times it is true but why jump to conclusions?  So often people without kids are experts on parenting (until they have a couple).  Life happens!  In my personal experience it seems the most judgmental tend to be the ones that feel guilty about something - just my experience - not saying that is always the case.

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