It seems inevitable. Every time something awful happens to a kid, there is immediately a social media mob with their torches and pitchforks ready to hunt down… the child’s parents. Sometimes the mob even forgets the person who actually caused the harm to the child! There is a constant stream of parent-shaming happening, and it’s really frustrating. We take the tiny tidbit of information we get from social media and decide that we know every detail of the situation.
Today I came across an article that described an individual who committed criminal sexual misconduct with a young girl in a library. The individual offered classes at the library, and the mother of the ten year old assumed it was safe. She saw other parents drop off their kids and leave so she did the same. Unfortunately, she was wrong, and her daughter was victimized.
The comments on this article were horrendous. “Who in their right mind would leave their child with a complete stranger?” “The mother needs help… probably dropped her innocent daughter off at ‘an acting class’, so she could go romp in bed with her boyfriend.., and make more babies.” “Throw the mother in with him.” “The mother needs to be charged as well.” “Free baby sitting .. lazy parents assuming it was safe cause it’s a library” “Call child protection on YOURSELF you shouldn’t be a MOTHER OR A FATHER.”
Why do we do this? Why do we react with such vitriol toward the parents? Who are we to make such assumptions about someone else’s life, thoughts, actions? Stop. Just stop it.
Reading all this hate made my face hot. I felt so much shame and anger because I know the person who committed this crime, and I have left my young daughter alone with him many times. Why? Because he worked at my daughter’s daycare and I trusted them to create a safe space for my child and hire good people. What the mob doesn’t know is that he didn’t have a criminal record. He presents as a quiet, well-mannered young man, and my daughter adored him. I can’t say I ever thought much of him, but since women’s intuition apparently equals paranoia, I trusted that my kid was safe at daycare.
Parents are human. We aren’t perfect, and we make mistakes. We can’t be with our kids 24/7. I’ve looked at postings at the library. I’ve signed my kid up for community ed. I’ve left my kid at school, at daycare, at Sunday school. These are supposed to be safe places for our children! That mother will feel enough guilt and shame for herself. I know this because I feel guilt for every time I left my kid there not feeling fully settled. We don’t need to pile onto her pain. The person who deserves our anger is the person who committed this crime.
We are a community. We should be lifting each other up, supporting, helping, and loving one another, not constantly judging and tearing each other down. Parenting is really hard sometimes, and I believe that most parents are doing the very best that we can! We need to stop assuming that we know what’s going on in someone else’s family. If you feel you are in a place to make judgements, then maybe you should step in and lend a helping hand or an encouraging word instead.