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By stephanie lefler

My twin daughters once had a friend spend the night that wasn’t allowed to watch Disney movies.That was a stressful 24 hours for me because my husband and I found that we had to be very careful about things we said, conversations that we initiated, music played in the car, and TV shows on the screen in the background around the house. I mean, if you can’t watch Disney movies, I’m pretty sure that excludes the TV show Cops or conversations including stories about drunks in the emergency room or hospital politics.

The Influence of Nursing in Parenthood

We are not radicals or free-spirited parents that allow their kids to discover the world without structure or borders; however, I think the fact that I am a nurse has had an enormous impact on the way I parent. From the time my girls were young, I have been very open and authentic about the tragedies, miracles, and politics I have encountered at work.

When they were toddlers, they sensed my emotions. I shared my heart with them and with that, they developed a trust and respect for my nursing career from a very young age. They learned to care for others without even knowing or seeing them. They gained a unique perspective of the preciousness of life. When they were little, it involved sitting on the couch with them on my lap and explaining that Mommy was sad because she had a patient die that day. It was a great time to express my love for them while showing them my vulnerability as a human being, my passion for my job and people, and my faith in God.

Being Open About Tragedies

Over time, I shared bits and pieces of my patient stories that they would be able to comprehend and process.
I could not hide my emotion when I walked in the door after caring for a teenage girl that had driven off the side of a country road while she was texting. She was brain dead, and her parents were in the middle of gathering family members, accepting their daughter’s fate, and making the hardest decision of their lives. She shared the same features as one of my twins; blonde hair, petite stature, and innocent blue eyes. It was surreal.

Even though my route home included the exact spot that this teenage girl had begun the fight for her life only hours earlier, I chose to continue my usual path home. The only thing that indicated a crash as I drove through the area were the orange spray paint marks made by the investigators that marked the travel of her car from the road to the ditch.

That night, I had an incredible and emotional conversation with my girls. It was an excellent opportunity to discuss the reality of death, driving, texting while driving, and our fears as parents. Every day on our drive to school, which included the same route as my drive to work and the crash scene, I took the opportunity to pay tribute to that teenage girl. I would verbalize, out loud to my daughters, the impact her death had on me as a nurse and a parent.

Would it Have a Positive or Negative Impact?

The results of my openness have been positive. Several times in the past, I have witnessed positive decisions they have made based on the knowledge they have gained through my stories. They have even shared stories and examples with their friends making it difficult for me to hold back from screaming, “Woo hoo! You listened!”.
They have even been known to question, not directly, the parenting decisions of some of their friend’s parents to allow their kids to do things that could result in tragedy.

It makes me chuckle how they have become just like me, “safety freaks”, as some would say. But I like to think we are not necessarily “safety freaks” but we just happen to be keenly aware of reality and the possibilities of not-so-wise decisions.

Protect our children from Disney movies? Nah… let’s empower them to make informed and wise decisions instead! Do you agree with this? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below.

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