Kids Can't Swim: Bad Parenting?

I learned to swim when I was very young and I know that if anf when I have kids one of my first priorites would be to make sure they learn how to swim. Yet there are some kids out there who can’t wswim well into their teens. Shouldn’t a responsible parent make sure there child knew how to swim? I don’t mean “report them to family services” bad if they don’t, it’s just that I would think it is as important as teaching them not to talk to strangers and such.

I took swim lessons twice as a kid and I still don’t really know how to swim. I can float, so I guess I can survive, but not truly swim.

Not everyone has access to a large body of water in which to learn to swim.

I certainly think children should be taught to swim. However, I’d hesitate to say that it’s bad parenting if this isn’t done. Not everyone has easy access to swimming pools.

I learned to swim as an infant, so I can’t remember ever not knowing how to swim. The older you get, the harder it is to learn, or so I’ve been told. I had a friend who learned to swim as an adult, and it was hellacious for him. He was thin and didn’t float easily, and his nervousness made things worse. However, he did learn to swim, and eventually even got his lifesaving certificate.

I think teachings kids how to swim is as much a part of responsible parenting as teaching them how to cross the street or what to do in case of an emergency. My parents taught me young because we had a pool, but I would think it would be common sense for anyone. If parents don’t know how to swim, they could have kids take formal lessons, or let a friend or relative teach them.

I was talking with people about this just today. I think that neglecting to have your kids taught swimming is “bad” parenting but not “BAD” parenting. It is a skill that is easy enough for most kids to pick up, it can contribute towards their safety, and it allows them to take part in opportunities that they will likely encounter throughout their lives.

My daughter just turned three and I am going to try my best to teach her how to swim in the Virgin Islands next week.

You’re looking at it as “survival skills”, (and I agree) but many see it as a sport. That’s why people don’t learn to swim. There are also people who are afraid of swimming because they don’t want the water on their face, and fear drowning. That can be passed on to children too.

This reminds me that swimming was part of gym class when I was in junior high, which culminated in an eight-minute swim when you weren’t allowed to touch the floor. Are kids who can’t swim excused from this?

When I was growing up (in Ottawa), Swimming lessons were part of the grade 4 Phy Ed curriculum. I don’t know if this was a ministry of education (provincial) thing or a schoolboard thing. They would ferry us to a community swimming pool once a week for 6 weeks and would split us into groups according to skill, and hand us over to swimming instructors. That way, they were hoping that all kids would know how to swim by the end of fourth grade. They also did something similar for skating, but I think that was grade 2…
I think it was a great idea.

I don’t know but I do know that a swimming skills test is still a graduation requirement at some colleges in universities (particularly in the Northeast). It is still a requirement at Dartmouth.
for example.

My mother was aquaphobic and thus went out of her way to overcome her fear enough to get me professional lessons.

I’m ever so grateful.

I have never been a good swimmer, despite taking swimming lessons. And neither my mom or dad swim much. My mom won’t get her hair wet, and she absolutely will not go under. My dad is slightly better about it.

Many people just don’t think about it much. I don’t think that makes them bad parents. I’ve tried to get my daughter to swim, but I’m not going to force her if she doesn’t want to do it.

None of my schools offered swim lessons. I attended summer camps where we went swimming, but it was either 1)goof off time, with no formal instruction or 2)the very basics were taught, like how to hold your breath under the water and how to float.

I learned how to swim because my father taught all of us kids. But even still, my swimming skills are very elementary. I don’t know any strokes or how to breath and swim at the same time. No one taught me how to tread water–I learned how to do that all on my own. Swim out to save someone else? No way.

I agree that a parent should make sure that their kids know how to swim, but I understand how it’s not feasible for some to do this. Swimming lessons cost money, and often times so does access to a pool. My brother and sister were lifeguards for the city pools and they would hold clinics for little kids, but as a parent, you have to be informed that such things exist and make sure your kids don’t chicken out.

It also difficult to maintain a “swimming” child if the nearest pool or body of water is far away.

I had swimming lessons (as did my brother and sister) and so did pretty much everyone we knew. In fact, we were weird because we hadn’t done time on one swim team or another. I pretty much assumed that somewhere along the line, people learned how to swim. (not in school. but surely, you picked it up somewhere - lessons, beaches, parents, etc. It was a given).

Then I went to one of those colleges that required swimming to graduate. And met people who didn’t know how to swim - and it wasn’t a small minority of people, but quite a few. And they weren’t badly parented.

And actually, I have never since really needed to know how to swim. I do it, because I got into triathloning and I love swimming. But I’ve never needed to swim for any reason other than my own entertainment. It is nowhere near the basic life skill that, say, reading is.

One of my brothers and I each had ear surgery at around the age of 6, and were told by our pediatrician not to swim because any water in the ear could aggravate our condition. Also, using ear plugs would cause air pressure problems vis-à-vis the tubes we had had installed. So neither of us have ever learned to swim. I’ve been in a few swimming pools, as well as one hot tub, but have literally made sure to keep my head above water (and to cling to the railings) in such situations.

My sister and other brother don’t have ear problems, but my dad doesn’t swim, so they weren’t pushed to learn. Dad’s mother kept her kids from water because she was afraid they’d get polio (this was in the 1930’s and '40’s, before the Salk and Sabin vaccines hit the market).

Another vote for No.

I took swimming lessons as a child and would probably send my child to swimming lessons- but swimming lessons are not a neccessity on the order of food, shelter, clothing and education.

If Mom and Dad plan on spending much time on, in or near a body of water- whether pool, lake, river or ocean- then yes the child should be taught to swim- but failure to teach the child to swim does not equal bad parenting.

Bad parenting? That’s ludicrous. I mean, ugh, people. Ugh.

Swimming is a skill. Fine. But pitching it as a ‘survival’ skill is pretty silly. For the vast VAST history of (at least European) mankind swimming hasn’t been particularly thought of as something anyone would want to do.

Beyond that…the reasoning behind ‘better teach them survival skills or you’re a bad parent’ would also lead to parents who DON’T teach their kids martial arts. Or firearm use. Or money management skills. Or any of a million other skills they could use.

Honestly, far better to skip the concentration on ‘survival skills’ as some sort of priority and teach your kids to read for pleasure. That would have far greater downstream survival impact than swimming.

Calling it ‘bad parenting’ demonstrates more about the judger than the judged. Get a grip.

  • Jonathan “Can’t hardly swim even though he grew up at Avenue I in Redondo Beach, CA but his 5 year old is in dance, swim and karate” Chance

Our 10yo son has been attending a YMCA camp in the summer since he was six, and goes swimming with them at least once a week. He also goes to church camp every summer, where they try to swim every day. We even took him to lessons at the Y, and then tried to teach him ourselves.

He can’t swim. He can’t even dogpaddle well enough to keep his head above water. He has low muscle tone, especially in his legs and torso, and he just doesn’t have the strength to kick hard enough to keep his head above water.

We don’t have ready access to a pool to give him regular practice to build up his muscles for swimming, and there really isn’t any other way to teach him which muscles he needs to use. (He had to be taught to walk, with lots of physical therapy and devices to encourage him to build up his walking muscles, when he was a toddler.)

Yes, I feel guilty about the fact that my son can’t swim. But we really don’t have a way to teach him right now. On the plus side, we do not live near any water, and when he does go to the pool with the Y camp, the counselors are aware of the problem, and he is very closely supervised.

I’m from southern california and my mom was a lifeguard, so you’d better believe I can swim. I’m another person who learned so young I don’t remember not being able to swim. It’s not that my parents pushed swimming, it was just something everybody did. If you didn’t have your own pool, the community center would let you swim all day for practically nothing.

I do remember being taught about swimming safety though. My dad drowned (but not to death) because of a stupid stunt he pulled when he was a kid. Because of that and since every other house had a pool, and there were canals everywhere, it was just a good idea.

Interesting. Where I grew up, “drowned” meant death. Never heard of someone drowning and surviving. Is this a new definition I have never heard of?

As far as the OP…I assume there might be reasons (as mentioned with the ear condition) but teaching children to swim is very much a survival skill that should be taught to every child. Even if you live a thousand miles from water, at some point your children will indeed be near water. Most YMCA’s and many schools offer swimming lessons. I learned to swim before I could talk. My mother was a fanatic that all her kids learned to swim as she loved to go fishing and boating and intended to take us with her. All of us learned at an early age. And mom taught us.

Living near a river, every year a kid or two would drowned (to death) and almost all of them had no idea how to swim and had slipped into the river. A week long course at the YMCA could have saved their lives.

Bad parenting? I would say yes in most cases. It is simply common sense to give your children survival skills and swimming is about as basic a skill as it gets. No one “needs” to learn to ride a bike or skate or ski…but if you fall in water, you do need to at least be able to keep your head above water.

Put me down as someone who learned to swim almost before I could walk…from what my parents have told me, I was just under 8 months old my first time in the water. Brother and I even took swimming lessons [though that was more of a plot to get us out of the house for some parental fun on saturday mornings … every summer from when I was 4 until I was 12 we did the Red Cross thing, and sporagically after - I have the red cross lifesaving training so if I had wanted I could have worked as a lifeguard [Dad had us get our CPR stuff at 18 through a friend of his]

Things that mrAru and I would have done for our kids if we had had any -
*swimming training
*adult and infant CPR and basic first aid
*gun safety / hunting techniques and safety
*tried alcohol, with permission to have an occasional beer or wine with dinner in our presence
*access to birth control [including a full exam and permission to the gyn for her to get privacy and access to condoms and a doctor for the boy] though we would insist on meeting any boy she wants to go out with. We would also make her aware that we loved her, and would prefer that she abstain, but safe sex was required if she wanted to experiment…and that just because everybody around her was having sex was no particular reason to actually have sex.
I know many people wouldnt agree, but realisitcally, kids will do what they want no matter what the parents want, and I would rather give them the information they need and keep their trust. Sometimes you can’t learn without screwing up and life doesnt come with training wheels…and I would like them to be able to come to us and admit they screwed up and needed help.