This open letter has over 226,000 shares on Facebook right now.
Melissa Fenton, a mother of four boys, is fed up with how quick to judge so many people have become on social media whenever something bad happens to a child.
I am not going to deny that I have at times thought, “who was watching this child?” and “that could never happen to us because we watch our kids,” but the truth is, accidents happen no matter how attentive we are.
That picture is of my son Rocco and me. He’s 3. He is my accident-prone child and manages to get hurt way too often, usually when I am standing right there.
When he was 2 he went to give me a hug while I was cleaning my daughter’s room and he smacked his lip into the step on her bunk bed and sliced it open.
A few weeks ago we were at the park, he got off the swing while I was standing right behind him and he walked into the kid on the swing next to him. Thankfully neither child got hurt, but they both cried and I felt like an idiot.
When we were at my brother’s house for New Year’s Eve he fell off the back of a day bed in the basement and smacked his head on the cement floor. I wasn’t in the room, another adult was, and she was tending to the other kids and didn’t see it happen. We took him to the ER to be checked out and I was an absolute mess. Thankfully he was fine that time too, but he fell pretty hard and really could have been hurt.
I consider myself a pretty protective parent, in fact my fiance is always calling me the “fun sucker” because I am constantly telling Rocco to be careful, stop running, sit down, don’t do that you’re going to get hurt, and still he’s had his share of accidents.
So why has it become so easy for so many of us to quickly blame and shame the parents of other children when something horrible happens?
Don’t get me wrong, we all know there are some people who are clearly negligent, but when it comes to the recent stories in the news, people have jumped to conclusions without even knowing what really happened!
People blamed the parents of the little boy in Florida when the father was literally standing right next to him! This man watched his son get snatched by an alligator out of nowhere and tried to save him… and all some people can do is blame him?
And none of us know what happened with the boy at the zoo who got into the gorilla moat, but I saw the picture of the fence and thought, my son could climb over, under, or through that in 3 seconds! Every parent turns their back on their kids for a second at times. We do our best not to, but it happens. It happens to every single one of us.
Here’s what this mom had to say on her Facebook page. It’s a long read, but it needed to be said and she said it perfectly.
Parents, I beg of you, stop blaming and shaming other parents.
35 years ago, a mom shopping in a Sears department store went to go look at lamps, and left her six year old with another group of boys, who were all trying out the new Atari game at a kiosk. That boy’s name was Adam Walsh.
30 years ago, an 18 month old toddler playing in her aunt’s backyard fell into a well. Rescuers worked nonstop for 58 hours, finally freeing “Baby Jessica” from the well.
In both cases a tragedy happened, an unforeseen tragic accident took place which left Adam dead, and a toddler fighting for her life deep underground. But they also has something else in common; they had an entire country of moms and dads supporting the grieving parents.
Let me repeat that, EVERYONE SUPPORTED THE RESCUE EFFORTS WITHOUT BLAME. NO BLAME. None. ZERO.
No questions asked, not one single “Where were the parents?” comment. Just a country of other moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas watching in horror as a set of parents, one of their own, went through the unthinkable. Adam was our son. Jessica was our baby daughter.
THOSE PARENTS WERE US.
Flash forward to 2016, the year of THE PERFECT PARENT.
Yesterday, a two year old boy, splashing in the magical lakefront waters of a Disney Resort, succumbed to the wilds of mother nature. An aggressive alligator scooped him out of the water, right under the watch of his father, who attempted to fight with the alligator to free his baby son. Pure horror. Sheer Terror. Parents who actually had to watch their baby be taken from them, as if they were in some African nature documentary.
A tragic and unforeseeable accident. An accident.
I weep for this mother and father. I am sick with anguish for the pain, agony, misery, and regret pulsating through their viens this very second. And I bet you are too.
But not everyone is.
You see, we now live in a time where accidents are not allowed happen. You heard me. Accidents, of any form, in any way, and at any time, well, they just don’t happen anymore.
Why? Because BLAME and SHAME.
Because we have become a nation of BLAMERS and SHAMERS.
And how are accidents allowed to happen if we can’t blame someone? Surly, they can’t, right? I mean, random acts of nature, unpreventable tragedies, and fateful life changing events that take place in a matter of nanoseconds cannot possibly take place if everyone is being a responsible parent, right? NOPE.
They can’t, because this country and its population of perfect pitchfork carrying mothers and fathers sitting behind keyboards needs to accuse. They NEED TO BLAME, to disparage, to criticize in every damn way and at every damn corner, the parenting of another.
And when do they really get to lick their blaming chops? When a tragic accident happens. That’s when the pouncing is at its freshest, when raw emotion and ignorance collide, and they dig their word claws in, and take hold of whatever grace these grieving mothers and fathers have left in their souls.
And then they tear it out.
Listen to me very clearly perfect parents, VERY CLEARLY.
I’VE HAD ENOUGH.
I’ve had enough of scrolling through comment threads and seeing over and over again questions like “Where were the parents?” and thoughts like, “This is what happens when you don’t watch your kids.”
I have simply HAD ENOUGH.
I have one question for the blaming and shaming moms and dads. You know the ones who immediately blame the parents, the ones who go on the internet and type comments like, “This is nothing but neglect by the parents,” and “They should have known better. Who was watching that little boy?” and my favorite, “I would never let that happen to my kid.”
Here is my question,
Have you ever been to a child’s funeral before?
The funeral of a child is an event in life that you never, ever want to experience.
Now let me ask you another question.
In the coming week these parents will fly back to their home in Nebraska without one of their children. They will leave a vacation resort, packing up his Buzz Lightyear pajamas and his favorite blanket, and they will make an excruciatingly difficult journey home. A journey that they never in a million years thought they would be making.
They will meet with a funeral director, pick out a tiny casket, a tiny burial suit, and surrounded by family, they will bury their baby boy.
And they will suffer every single day for the rest of their life.
At the funeral for this two year boy who died in front of his parents, can you do me a favor? Can you walk up to the mother and say the words that you just typed out last week? Can you? Can you greet her, hug her, shake the father’s hand and then say, “ Who was watching that little boy? You should have known better. I would never let that happen to MY child.”
Can you do that for me? I mean, you felt those words so deeply in your heart and soul that you typed them for a million people to read. Certainly you can say it straight to the faces of the people you meant it for, right?
Here, let me help you.
Put away your pitchfork for a moment and try this.
To the mother and father who went for a walk on vacation for the last time with their little boy yesterday, I am deeply sorry that you had to experience the worst kind of tragedy possible, an accident. I grieve with you. Your baby was my baby. Your son was my son. I have nothing but love for you, love to help you get though the pain yesterday, today, and for what is gonna seem like a thousand tomorrows. I wrap my thoughts and prayers around your aching heart and soul. May the God of this universe in some miraculous way bring peace to you and your family.
That is what you say. THAT. And just THAT.
Stop the blaming.
Stop the shaming.
In their darkest hours, can we please just LOVE other parents. Please?
Follow Dana on Snapchat at danasdirt.