Ivanka Trump’s Car Seat “Scandal”

News flash: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump let their kids ride in the presidential motorcade without car seats.

Lions and tigers and bears, Oh my!

Apparently, there aren’t enough important things going on in the world to prevent this from becoming headline news, with CNN devoting an entire story to the possibility that this event might have transpired. “Trump-Kushner children appear to board motorcade sans car seats,” read the panicked headline that was better suited to The Onion than to a legitimate news outlet. (I don’t recall CNN ever covering such incidents when they involve Chelsea Clinton hopping in a taxi with her young daughter and no car seat.)

Never mind that it’s legal to take a child of any age in a beat-up taxi without a car seat; but CNN seems to think someone should call Child Protective Services because the Trumps let their kids ride in the safest car in the world without car seats! Even CNN was forced to acknowledge the, ahem, singularity of “Cadillac One,” writing: “The Secret Service-driven presidential limousine, known as “the Beast,” is certainly safer than the average vehicle.”

You don’t say! Maybe that has something to do with the six-inch thick windows that can stop any bullet, the doors that weigh as much as the cabin doors on a Boeing 757, or the explosive-proof fuel tank, for starters? Never mind the police escort that rides along with the car at all times, and which shuts down all traffic wherever it goes.

The attention given to this incident highlights just how extreme America has become about car seats—even one of the safest cars ever built is still fair game for the car seat police—and how bad the helicopter parents of America have gotten in carrying out their work for the nanny state.

In my own neighborhood of northwest D.C., it’s become anathema to even ask a question about when to stop using a car seat, or when to shift to a booster, or even when to turn a child around to be forward-facing. Many parents keep their children rear-facing until they are several years old, with multiple parents on a popular D.C. parenting blog stating that they still have a child rear-facing in a car seat . . . at age four. When one mom asked if it was okay to turn around her eighteen-month-old child because his screaming and car sickness was distracting her to the point of becoming a safety hazard, and I pointed out that she could actually legally turn him at one, parents piled on me as if I had suggested she go ahead and kill her kid.

In fact, most car seat laws are much less onerous than people think. Some states specify a child should be rear facing until age one, and most states have only vague requirements for some form of “child restraint” after age one or two, which can include any kind of booster seat. And yet when I tell people we switched to a backless booster for our daughter at age four, people look at me like I have two heads. In the region where I live, the most specific law is Virginia’s requirement that children under age one be rear-facing. Other than that, it’s basically a child restraint free-for-all until age eight. But parents freak out if someone in their car pool uses a booster for a five-year-old.

It’s not that car safety should be taken lightly; it’s a leading cause of death for human beings of all ages. But most parents get confused about what is legally required and what is recommended by car seat companies (who live in terror of lawsuits).  Then there’s the American Academy of Pediatricians, who can also be found recommending that mothers breastfeed exclusively for six months and in general until age one “or longer,” recommendations that plenty of us loving mothers accept with a smile and then ignore for the sake of other competing interests, like our sanity.

Like any health or safety issue, there are recommendations and then there are laws; but there’s also the reality that there are risks to just about anything related to being alive. Balancing safety with real life demands is a basic part of life, and especially of parenting. I am guessing most pregnant women continue to drive motor vehicles, for example, despite a report that came out in in 2014 that found that the risk of serious car accidents goes up forty-two percent for pregnant drivers in their second trimester.

But increasingly, “balance” is something our parenting culture lacks. We’ve become so safety obsessed that some people are actually artificially limiting their family size on the basis of car seats, as Jonathan Last documented in his book, What To Expect When No One is Expecting, despite the fact that fitting three seats across a backseat is much more feasible than most people would have you think (especially if you ignore the screams about keeping your kid rear facing until they are three years old and in a car seat versus a booster until they are six or seven). I for one continue to ignore the chorus of naysayers who tell me I will need a bigger car when my third child arrives, because I plan to put my enormous three-year-old in a booster, leaving plenty of room for another booster and an infant seat.

I doubt CNN will be writing any headlines about my horrifyingly unsafe car seat practices, but you’ll forgive the rest of us for indulging in a giant collective eye roll when they panic about the Trump kids riding in the presidential limo without baby seats. America’s meddlesome helicopter parents should find better things to do than accuse members of the President’s family of endangering their own children.

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  • JP

    I think the CNN piece is more Anti-Trump then it is anti-carseat.

    • alcibiades

      bingo! That’s it’s entire raison d’être.

    • You mean anti-no-carseat? If CNN were anti-carseat (and other nanny) laws, I might gain some respect for it. They’re just pumping sales of carseats and revenue of local governments at this point.

      • JP

        Sorry, that is a little confusing. I did mean anti-no carseat.

  • Bill Dyszel

    There was a TED talk very early in the series in which the speaker pointed out that there’s no evidence that the adoption of child car seats over the past 30 years has made any difference in child traffic fatalities. Zero.

    • Wasn’t that the guy who pointed out that most of the statistics ignore things like “the child was not secured at all,” or “the backseat was now in the front seat due to the force of the crash”?

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  • concerndcitizen

    The girl in the front looks to be too big for a car seat.

  • My favorite car seat laws actually say something to the effect of “follow the directions on the carseat.”

  • Robert Burke

    I’m shocked, shocked!

  • My kids never went for that crap. They are lucky they don’t live in the land of the free.

  • JunkScienceSkeptic

    Never mind that even the smaller child was not required to use a booster seat as his knees were bent at the lower edge of the seat with his back against the seatback; . . .

    Yep, never mind that; but imagine the safety hazard of the photographer hanging out of the open rear door to get that shot.

    Hey, at least he didn’t put his feet on the upholstery.

  • Dave M.

    Ignore CNN.

    • LouAnnWatson

      who?

  • timmaguire

    True for all the reasons you cite, but while America is insane about safety, including car seats, this isn’t about America’s insanity on safety. It’s about the left’s (especially including most of the mainstream media’s) insane hostility to the Trump family.

    When it comes to liberals, there is so much insanity it’s hard to keep it straight.

  • Moneyrunner

    Part of Draining the Swamp is to get rid of many of the rules that force you to live the way that Liberals want you to live, and to shut them up when they scream and whine. This is an example of hysteria.

    • LouAnnWatson

      i made it to 60 and i never had a car seat when i was a child…the advent of air bags forced children to move to the back seat. meanwhile, motorcyclists in fla are not required to wear helmets…give us more government!

  • douginsd

    Note that the kids are in backwards-facing seats in the middle of the car. Even in an unlikely rear-end collision with an escort vehicle, the sheer weight of the Presidential limo makes it unlikely they will be subjected to anything but minor g-forces.

  • Arsene Lupin

    In my area of the Carolinas I frequently see people of lesser finances driving around town with their little kids not in car seats. I suspect the police’s attitude is “why bother, they can’t afford the ticket anyway.” Occasionally there’s a sad story in the news about young kids getting killed in a car wreck. Too often the story will say something like “there were 4 kids in the back seat” of a Toyota Corolla. How do you fit 4 kids in the back seat of a Corolla if they’re all in car seats?

  • Baltowash

    Hard to tell from the picture, but it sure looks like the daughter is on a booster making me suspect the son is too. Given the door is open, there is still time to fasten the seat belts. much ado about nothing….which is becoming a daily event unfortunately…

  • Kebas

    >>they still have a child rear-facing in a car seat . . . at age four

    This is NOT safe. The car seats that are designed to be rear-facing are NOT designed to safely accommodate a four-year-old, and the car seats that are designed to safely accommodate a four-year-old are NOT designed to be rear-facing. Either way, unless the child is extremely small for a four-year-old, resulting from some medical or genetic condition, this is improperly using a piece of safety equipment in such a way that it is NOT safe. These devices are carefully designed and extensively tested and must be used only as instructed. Otherwise they are not only ineffective but actually dangerous. READ AND FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS!

    • Baltowash

      One set of seats in this car faces rear-ward like the front seats on a Southwest plane. So you have to make a choice. If they were my kids I’d have them in the same spot as in the picture because in a forward direction high speed crash they are way better protected as they are sitting and I expect that is the more likely crash scenario. Your rear-facing, age appropriate car seat argument, though accurate as a general statement, does not really fit the scenario at hand.

      • Kebas

        I wasn’t referring to the Trumps but the statement in the article that a friend of the author made about her children.

        Not criticizing the Trumps in any way whatsoever. It is ludicrous! There is NO POSSIBLE WAY the President’s limousine is going to have the kind of accident in which a car seat would make any difference. If something were to happen that would cause an injury to those inside the President’s limousine, it would have to be an attack with extremely powerful military-grade weapons that would utterly destroy the vehicle and all passengers anyway.

        • Baltowash

          My apologies for mis-reading your intent. Have a great weekend!

          BW

  • ursafan40

    Government mandates for car seats has saved a good number of children.
    But it’s main purpose and greatest achievement was enriching car seat manufacturers who were having a hard time selling their product.

    • Jim O’Neil

      I’m not sure I buy that gov. mandates have saved any children but I must admit they’ve created many children over 21 years of age.

  • FeatherBlade

    I don’t understand why no one has made a side facing infant car seat that can be put in the front seat of a car.

    Wouldn’t that fix all of the problems with rear-facing and front-facing car seats?

    • Deplorable_CBB

      How about a child’s car seat that secures to the roof of the car? In case of an accident, the kid just swings back and forth like a pendulum 😉

      • FeatherBlade

        XD

        Yeah, but then you’d have to clean bug splatter off the kid’s face at the end of the trip.

        • Deplorable_CBB

          I was thinking more like dangling the child upside down inside the car – kind of like a sleeping bat 😉

      • Rick Caird

        Well, in Family Vacation, Chevy put Grandma (or was it Aunt) on the roof.

  • Drunk Uncle

    There is no limit to what will upset some people.

  • What you are talking!!