Dear Abby: Vigilant moms can’t shy away from asking about gun safety

Dear Abby: I am a Yale-trained pediatric nurse with a post-master’s as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. I respectfully ask that you retract your answer to “First-Time Mom in New Jersey” (June 21). I’m concerned your response will encourage other mothers to buy into the incorrect assumption that it’s “impolite” to ask questions that ensure their child’s safety.

You should have encouraged and empowered “First-Time Mom” to politely ask about the presence of weapons in the other parents’ homes, and if so, how they are stored. It’s important information for her to have.

If she has every playdate at her house and refuses to go to another home because she’s afraid to ask about gun safety, eventually the other mothers will pick up on the fact that she doesn’t trust their child-rearing capabilities, but won’t know why. If these potential friends don’t have unsecured firearms, or if they do and they are properly and safely stored, your advice will prevent healthy, honest friendships from developing, which will socially isolate her.

How will she ever ensure a break for herself by allowing and encouraging her child to socialize at another trusted mother’s home she knows to be safe? Your advice will only isolate “First-Time Mom” further and put her and her toddler at great risk. – Colleen M. Sullivan, RN, MSN, CPNP

Dear Colleen: Of course you are right. The woman’s question wasn’t about etiquette. It was about child safety. A large number of readers besides you agreed my perspective was off. I have heard all of you loud and clear, and I apologize.

I SHOULD have advised: “You are responsible for your child’s welfare. Part of assuring her safety involves asking whether weapons are on the premises and, if so, what safety precautions have been taken. (The same is true for prescription drugs, swimming pools, caustic chemicals and foods to which your child is allergic.) You should also ask if the children will be under parental supervision at all times. If anyone feels concern for your child’s safety is presumptuous, do not allow your child to play there. Suggest instead that the children play at your house.”

Readers: More on this subject tomorrow. It’s important, so stay tuned.