A Village That Throws Stones

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What have we become when we are now judging grieving parents who just lost a son?

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For the second time in recent weeks I am embarrassed.

I am embarrassed that after hearing the story of a two-year-old who was snatched and killed by an alligator, the first instinct of some people was to judge.

Yes, instead of instantly feeling sympathy and compassion for parents who watched their toddler die in front of them, the Perfect Parents came out in droves to suggest that it was the parents’ fault. (Like with the gorilla.)

Why weren’t they watching their kid?

Why did they let him in the water?

Maybe he should have had a leash on him. (Oh wait, are we FOR or AGAINST parents using leashes this week?)

First of all, if you’ve ever been involved in a tragic accident, you don’t need others heaping blame on you. You’re already blaming yourself and no one can make you feel worse than you already do.

This mother and father have just experienced the nightmare of an animal dragging their child into the dark night to his death. Can you even fathom what that must have been like for them?

I certainly can’t.

All I know is that my heart goes out to them. Because I am a mom with toddlers, I grieve with them and for them.

If someone is going to claim that these parents weren’t “following the rules” and that there should be “consequences” for their actions, does that mean that they themselves have followed every single rule throughout their life? I’m willing to bet that the answer is no.

We’ve all sped up when the light was yellow and we should have been slowing down, haven’t we? Or driven over the speed limit? Jay-walked? Fed the ducks in the pond? Committed any number of minor infractions that didn’t end up having life or death circumstances?

It is only luck, chance, fate– whatever you want to call it– that has spared most of us from tragedy.

If I was vacationing at Disney World with my family on a summer night, I can’t say for sure that I would have stopped my child from splashing in the one-foot deep water on the sandy shore.

A sign saying “No Swimming,” to me, means don’t swim here. It doesn’t mean, “No swimming because there may be alligators so actually you should probably also just stay away entirely and don’t even dip your foot in.”

And let’s say these parents actually did make a mistake and were at fault. Even if that were the case, how does harsh criticism of their parenting skills help the situation?

They lost their son in a manner that is both horrific and public. The only thing this family needs right now is compassion and support.

It’s funny, society rallies around a woman wearing a Chewbacca mask yet we can’t show love to parents going through the ultimate tragedy of their two-year-old perishing?

We are fond of the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” It’s a saying and a sentiment that is meant to uplift parents and make them feel they are not alone– that we are all in this fight to raise kind, decent human beings together. Because it’s hard sometimes.

But that is not the village that I am seeing lately. We have become a village that throws stones at the very people who need us the most.

That’s not the kind of village I want to live in. Do you?

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  • Jackie
    June 15, 2016 at 11:17 PM

    Wonderfully stated, thank you for sharing.

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