If you are a young parent in today’s society, you are probably into the local parenting scene like I am. You might be plugged into different parenting circles such as popular parenting sites, Facebook groups and you might even pick up your local magazine such as the Nashville Parent. If you fit into any of those circles, you have probably witness a lot of tragic and senseless accidents since becoming a parent. Sometimes these aren’t even senseless accidents, just different ways of parenting that you don’t personally agree with. I am one of those parents, I make mistakes, but I also judge others for theirs. For that I am sorry.
One of the most recent accidents I can think of is the alligator at a Disneyland resort. Now, I don’t personally know the whole story, only the side that is being told. I will never pretend to know it all, but I did judge. To me, I thought it was common sense not to swim in water in Florida. I have been to Florida at least seven times that I can remember. I’m from Tennessee, only a few states away so the Florida life is pretty familiar to me. The little boy’s family is from Nebraska. While I might think it’s common sense to not get into water in Florida, this family probably knows a lot that I don’t know about Nebraska. For instance, I bet they can drive in snow better than me because I never deal with it. Shame on me and every person for judging them for letting their child play in the water at the place where all his dreams were supposed to come true. They’ve lost a son, isn’t that enough?
The next incident that I recall, is the little boy falling into the gorilla pit. This is yet again, another accident where I judged the parents. I am not making excuses for his parents. I still believe that there was major negligence involved in, not only the parents, but the people around them. If I recall correctly, there was a family who saw the child crawling on the other side of the fence. If that had been me in that zoo, regardless of who was with me, I would have gotten that child back on the other side of the fence. Again, I don’t know the whole story, just what sides are being told. Luckily this little boy survived and I bet a lot of families have learned from this. Our family did and we are now the proud owners of two backpack leashes that came in handy at big events like the CMA Fest.
Another incident that comes to mind is the father who left his son in his car seat for eight while he went to work. Again I judged. There are all kinds of information coming out of the woodwork about the father, most of which doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that he left his child in a car seat in the middle of summer. I don’t understand how you forget a child in a car seat. My kids are almost never quiet, so it would be next to impossible for me to forget that either of them are in the car. But the fact still remains that I only know what is being told, never the whole story.
The truth is that none of this parenting stuff is new. It’s been happening for centuries. Parents have been making mistakes since the dawn of time. I have been making mistakes since our first child was born. In fact, our oldest child rolled off the couch onto hardwood floor when she was only two weeks old. Thankfully nothing bad happened, never even a bruise, but she still rolled off the couch. Just because you don’t come forward with your parenting mistakes doesn’t mean you’re any better or worse of a parent that the ones who are the spotlight for their mistakes. The only difference is that social media picked up their mistakes and went viral.
They weren’t the first parents to let their child play in alligator infested waters. They weren’t the first parents who let their child fall into a gorilla pit. And he wasn’t the first parent to leave his child in a car seat for eight hours. We have become a society of shamers who with a blink of an eye will type up a judgment onto social media for all to read. The biggest problem is that because we see it within minutes of happening, we are disconnected from parents that it is happening to and suddenly think we're experts. We don’t sympathize with them because we immediately think it won’t happen to us or our children.
What happened to our village? When I said that none of this parenting stuff is new, I meant it, but our village hasn’t always been the same. Twenty years ago, we would have cried with the family from Nebraska who lost their son to an alligator. We would have prayed to God that the little boy made it out of the gorilla pit and thanked the workers who got him out. We would have sympathized with the father who lost his child because he forgot about him. We aren’t a village. While we are more socially connected through social media and technology, we have never been more divided as parents than we are now. Quit shaming others for their mistakes. You never know when you’ll go viral because of yours.