18 Aug
Pool of Worry

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My in-laws to be are fabulous people, they love Jesus, they don’t swear and they believe firmly in casseroles. We get on surprisingly well considering our extreme differences. They also have a pool, a fabulous 10 ft in the deep end pool. That isn’t gated.   Or at all separate from the back yard (it is in fact the dominant feature). I have a new baby, and being a mom who would like her child to make it to, you know, at least mid-adulthood, I am very uncomfortable with this pool situation.

I believe firmly in CONSTANT VIGILANCE around bodies of water. I also believe that I, let alone anyone else, am barely capable of this vigilance. So, these in-laws, they also have taken a spare bedroom and converted it into a nursery (catching the drift yet?) so that our son could spend the night there. And that will happen, but at the point that he starts walking I’m going to lose all willingness to let him stay at their house until either a.) they fill the pool in with cement or b.) create some sort of safeguard against him getting outside other than a sliding door. So basically, how do I explain this to them?

Signed, Concerned Mom

Dear Concerned,

The good news is that in your quest for constant vigilance, you have the American Academy of Pediatrics on your side.   Not only do they suggest that you watch your children like a hawk trained in CPR, but they would prefer if you avoided getting a pool until your child was at least five years old.   So, basically just tell them that they must move to a house   that does not have a pool. Or, as an alternative, they can follow the AAP suggestions.       Their choice.

In speaking to your future in-laws, start out solemnly, by outlining your concerns and discussing the AAP’s protocol.   Are they willing to get a pool cover? Put a fence around the pool? Learn CPR?

If they are unconvinced, despite your speaking to them in curse-free English, bring over a casserole and discuss the all too plentiful summer drowning tragedies that are so often in the news.   Remind them how it takes just a moment.   About how there so many precautions. About how it’s the right thing to do. Make a commitment that you will start your son in swimming classes so that he can enjoy the gorgeous pool, but ask them to do their share.

I can’t guarantee that your future in-laws will agree with you right away, but they will recognize that you are serious and immovable about this.   They don’t have to like it, but they have to respect it.   And if they don’t, you have the option of not letting your son stay at their house without you. Until he’s gotten his Michael Phelps certification, that is.

Good luck!

Marinka, TMH

14 Responses to “Pool of Worry”


Comment by LISA5OF5.

Spot on, Marinka. Good job. In addition to the casserole, Mom might also go armed with specific resources for installing some of those safety features. Company names, contact information, etc. Might get the ball rolling quicker. Stick to your guns, mom!


Comment by Mary.

Great answer! Additionally, my parents installed a little alarm at their lake house. When the sliding door opens, the alarm goes off. Just an added precaution.

And if the 2 year old is going to go past a certain line, she has to have her lifejacket on. It saved her life this summer when she fell in the lake.


Comment by Mary.

Can I comment twice? Because something else just occured to me.

If these people have gone to the trouble of making a nursery, they probably adore the child and wouldn’t want anything to happen to him anyway.

I’d bet dollars to donuts they have already thought about this and have a plan. It doesn’t seem like they are exactly apathetic.


Comment by christy.

I think all Marinka’s suggestions are spot on – but I’d like to suggest that you do this now, and don’t wait until your son is walking – once he’s mobile – even crawling, is when the safeguards need to be up. I really think they should put up a safety fence around the perimeter.


Comment by expateek.

Years ago, the 2 1/2 year old son of a good friend of mine drowned in a pool. The family was on vacation, visiting friends. Everyone thought everyone else was watching the little one. Unfortunately, it was autumn, and “off season” so no one thought about the pool at all. The gate was hanging open, and… an awful tragedy.

Lots of communities also have laws requiring additional fencing around pools. You might want to check. Obviously, motion detectors and alarms and such should also be mandatory in this case.

And otherwise, err on the side of caution. It’s just too risky to do anything else. All it takes is a minute or two, and a little life is over. If your in-laws don’t get it, then they don’t get to have your child over. That’s all.


Comment by the mama bird diaries.

I could not agree more! My sister almost drowned in a pool when she was very young. It takes 2 SECONDS. This is non negotiable. If they want to take care of your child, they need to create a safe environment.


Comment by MommyTime.

Frankly, if the pool is the central feature of the yard, and he visits them in summer, then he is potentially in danger as soon as he can propel himself crawling. I would talk to them about this right away, if I were you. We have a neighborhood pool near us that has seen two child drownings in the past two summers, all because it can happen so quickly, not because no one “cared.”


Comment by Amber in Albuquerque.

I’ll second the “lots of communities have laws”. Where I ‘grew up’ (Las Vegas, NV) the law was and is that pools have to have a 3-foot high fence with a secured gate. A family friend who lived there learned this the hard way unfortunately. His grandson almost drowned while his new wife (not the child’s biological grandmother) was ‘watching’ him…the boy survived but with brain damage. Stand your ground and check the laws.


Comment by Amber in Albuquerque.

P.S. One of our local PUBLIC pools with multiple lifeguards on duty also had a near miss with a drowning a few years ago. Drowning is a ‘silent’ killer, you really can’t be too cautious.


Comment by Twitted by RealityRat.

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Comment by Concerned Mom.

thank you very much for all the ideas ladies. Hopefully I’ll be able to figure something out.


Comment by expateek.

Two more comments, perhaps too late after the initial flurry of activity here.

One thing I think people don’t realize is that very small children (non swimmers) fall in and SINK. There’s none of that splashing/drowning/noisy attention-getting business going on. Kids fall in, and they’re at the bottom of the pool in seconds.

And it’s quiet. Just that one splash, and … no noise, no follow-up.

Second comment: I have four (now grown) kids, and was always hyper-vigilant with mine around water. So much so that I really dreaded going swimming after a certain point. I mean, how exhausted can you GET?

Yet when I volunteered more recently to watch a loved friend’s child at the pool, I was absolutely HORRIFIED to find my attention had wandered. That child really wasn’t safe under my watch, no matter my good intentions! Not to say that others can’t be good watchers, but there needs to be a clear designation of responsibility around water, when little ones are involved.

All good wishes to you. Sure that you can sort out some good answers for this tricky situation.


Comment by kmdguerra.

I feel really bad for even putting this out there, but if you REALLY wanted to get them on the same page as you…there was a very sad story about two little girls in FL who drowned in their family’s pools (they were under the age of three). The cop who responded was quoted as saying that the family had just moved in a day before and hadn’t installed the fence around the pool yet. Tragic, yes, and definitely a lesson to us all.

And I have to completely agree with expateek on the division of watching duty. My husband’s family simply can’t understand why I hate going to the lake now…but when everyone else is knocking back a beer or glass of wine, who else is going to be coherent to watch the kids?


Comment by Karin.

our friends have a pool and 2 young children. They have an alarm on their back doors and a really loud alarm float in the water (I’ve heard it go off before when a kid under supervision jumped off the board into the water). I hate going over there b/c I don’t think anyone pays enough attention (including myself – hey, they’re friends, I want to catch up too) when we’re there. So we try to keep our visits to the off-season when the pool is closed and the cover is on (still a danger since water can go thru but it’s like a trampoline material so you can walk on it) or sans kids.

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