Parenting Guru: Best parent in an emergency? Not me

When the neighbor's son falls out of his bed or the teenager down the street falls off the pier and twists his ankle, I'm the mom on the block to call. I've bounced babies who won't stop crying and picked up someone else's sick child from school. I'm not too bad in an emergency, if I do say so myself.

Still, if I'm doling out an award for the best parent in an emergency, that one won't come to me. The minute it's my own family in danger, in crisis, or in pain, I can't seem to focus. What do I do? Who do I call? What's next? The simplest decisions seem overwhelming and I don't have the poise under pressure that I do when it's someone else's child.

Who can I call? Lucky for me, the guy I married isn't too shabby when the you-know-what hits you-know-where. He's got everything we need to get us through an emergency just in case I don't quite have it.

Iron Stomach

When my youngest daughter fell and hit her head on the kitchen chair, requiring stitches and a trip the pediatric emergency room, I was too afraid to look once I saw the blood. I was so worried about her that I couldn't think clearly. The sight of blood, while upsetting to him, didn't stop him in his tracks as it did me. As such, his reactions were quicker and weren't colored by fright.


When the emergency involves someone who isn't near and dear to me, I'm quick to call for help, decide what to do, and act. When it's my own daughter who flips her highchair and bangs her head on the table, I pause before I can decide what to do. Do I call an ambulance? Drive to the hospital? Am I over-reacting? Who will watch the other kids? I feel like I have too many synapses firing at once, and as such, I'm not the decision-maker I usually am. My husband doesn't have that problem in an emergency, meaning we make decisions and act more quickly than when I'm alone.


Speed is a big factor in an emergency. Every second I delay because I'm squeamish or can't make a decision prevents us from getting the help we need. I tend to focus on too many small details in an emergency, and that slows us down. When my oldest daughter was choking on her spit-up on her first night in the hospital, scenarios raced through my mind as I thought about what to do. He simply flipped her over on his knee and gave her a pat on the back. I was still deciding if we needed to press the nurse's call button. His "big picture" mentality saves us crucial seconds when we need help.

So thanks, sweetheart, for being the one I depend on in an emergency. I don't know what the kids or I would do without you. Now if you could just remember to grab the milk on the way home from work (I've only asked you twice), that would be great.

In your family, who's the best parent in an emergency? Why?

Kelly Herdrich is a Yahoo! Shine Parenting Guru. When she's not running from the sight of blood and worried about over-reacting, she's busy parenting her three young children, blogging, writing, and knitting. She has a spectacular husband (who did, for the record, forget the milk).