To wear a helmet or not to wear a helmet? Amsterdam is a bike city, but would you insist your children wear helmets?
While expecting my first child 8 years ago, I mentioned to my Dutch husband that our child would definitely be wearing a helmet as soon as he was able to sit on a bike. He said that I was being totally ridiculous – no one wears helmets in Holland. I said this was one of my non-negotiable items – up there with seat belts and brushing teeth. I told him that he didn’t have to wear the helmet himself so I didn’t understand what the big deal was. I also told him to have a chat with his brother, the police officer, about accidents and kids’ heads. The deal was sealed (though it had never been a deal to begin with – at least he supported me now).
I found a helmet that fit my nine month old. He was a big baby with a pretty big head and I bought the helmet on one of my trips to Canada. He’s gone through a number of helmets since then but never leaves home without it and in fact sometimes keeps it on for hours when he’s in the house. I think he just forgets about it. My 3 girls also wear helmets – no exceptions. It’s like putting a coat on for them. They also wear them when they go skating. No one complains – they all agree that a safe head is a good head.
The kids, particularly my son, get picked on for wearing a helmet. The boys always tell him that they are good bikers so they don’t need a helmet. He knows that that’s not what it’s about. The parents always say “my kid doesn’t want to wear a helmet”. I mean – who’s the boss here? Of course, everyone has a right to decide how they raise their kids and what’s important to them but what I don’t understand is that all of these parents “want” their kids to wear helmets but just leave it at that.
A couple of years ago, we (the kids and I) managed to convince my Dutch husband (and yes, I am mentioning that he is Dutch again on purpose), to wear a helmet when he is speed biking. He couldn’t find a helmet that “fit” for a long time but he finally accepted that biking at 50km an hour without one was suicidal. The kids were proud.
And me? Well. I must admit that I don’t wear one for my every day shopping and school pick-ups but I do have a bright pink one that I wear when I’m out on my speed bike. I don’t exactly practice what I preach but well, I never said I was perfect….
Here is the best helmet song that exists: Put Your Helmet On! If you are having trouble getting a helmet on your child – then listen to this together. It’s by one of my favorite American “kid” singers called Bill Harley. Enjoy!
Lianne Bergeron is a Canadian mother of 4 now living in Monnickendam after 13 years in Amsterdam. She is an author and entrepreneur. You can find out more about her at LiannesQuickGuide.
Photo Credit: Lianne