Video of six-month-old practicing water self-rescue technique draws criticism
Keri Morrison has experienced every parent’s worst nightmare. Her two-and-a-half year old son, Jake, accidentally drowned three years ago after slipping out a back door and off of a deck. In hopes of preventing another tragedy Morrison has taught her six-month-old daughter Josie to float on her back and tread water using a method called Infant Swimming Resource (ISR). But not everyone who’s seen the video of Josie in the water is happy about it.
“I wish I could go back in time and put my son in these lessons,” Morrison told Today. “I’m pretty confident that he would be here, and as a parent, I felt like I failed my son, and I was just determined that was not going to happen with my daughters.”
The ISR program is carefully constructed with an infant’s well-being in mind. Babies are taught in 10-minute sessions, five days a week for four to six weeks to learn ISR. In the video of Josie in the water, it seems clear the baby isn’t happy, but she also appears to know exactly what she’s doing to keep herself afloat, and there’s obviously at least one adult nearby to come to her aid if need be.
ISR isn’t about teaching your baby to swim at a super young age for the sake of having something to brag about at playgroup. It’s a survival technique to be used in a very serious situation, and might just help prevent an accidental drowning. Most people who’ve seen the video understand that and applaud Morrison for being so proactive, but other people, well, they suck.
There are over 1,500 comments on the video thus far, but not everyone gets the point of what she is trying to accomplish. Comments on the video range from calling Morrison crazy, to accusing her of exploiting her daughter by filming the video, to saying she shouldn’t have babies if she “doesn’t have the time to take care of them,” (Sure, because as every parent knows it’s completely possible to keep your eyes on your child every single second of every single day).
But Morrison isn’t worried about her detractors. “Do I expect my daughter at that young of an age to be alone near the water? No, but the layers of protection can fail,” she said. “Supervision failed. It failed with my son, and it can happen, and I just want my daughters to be as safe as possible.”
Morrison and her husband are serious about spreading awareness of techniques like ISR and other drowning prevention methods. They’ve set up a foundation in memory of their son called Live Like Jake, which provides scholarships for swim lessons to families with the means to afford them.
Parenting means sometimes making your kids do things they don’t want to do because it’s for their own good, like forcing them to sit in a carseat or getting them vaccinated. It’s not fun to watch an infant whimper as she wiggles to keep her face above water, but it’s a hell of a lot better then knowing if they accidentally fall in the water, they’ll drown immediately.