Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Are parents to blame?

Earlier this morning I was on the Baby Center site and was reading a thread on one of the message boards. A woman created a thread about feeling horrible because she felt her step-daughter was evil. She said that the step-daughter had tried to smother her biological daughter with a pillow. She also jerked her 6 month old's arm very hard while in their van. She terrorizes the other children by biting them, hitting them, etc. Because of the chaos that the little girl has brought to the home, this woman told her husband that she didn't feel comfortable with the child in the house and doesn't allow the child to come over anymore. She is willing to bring her husband over to the step-daughter's house, but not have the little girl in her home for fear that she will do something harmful to her other kids. She also mentioned a boat load of other stuff about her husband being a drunk, and not being bonded with his son (the 6 month old).

Immediately pretty much everyone chimed in that this woman was a bad mother and was showing favoritism. That the little girl wasn't the problem, it was her. They said that a 6 year old is incapable of murder. They said that as long as she was being a good mother and watching her children, that nothing would happen. Another member attempted to side with the original poster and say that though the situation is difficult, the safety of the new baby and other children are most important at this time.

I have to say, being in the mental health field, I agree with the one lone poster who was brave enough to speak up. I'm appalled that this woman would be lambasted and told she is a horrible mother because she feels that the step-daughter may do something terrible to harm the other children. Yes, the original poster was out of line by calling the step-daughter "EVIL", however, I can tell you, through studying mental health, all too many times there has been a sibling who killed another sibling, and it was all due to parents ignoring the warning signs and not taking it seriously.

You can be the best parent possible, but you still can't watch your children 24/7. Everyone needs to sleep. Short of locking each child in a separate room, there is no way to completely keep all of your children away from each other. It's like blaming a parent for a child who dies of SIDS. No parent can CONSTANTLY keep watch to make sure that their child is still breathing (though many of us try). Similarly, no parent can CONSTANTLY keep watch to make sure that one 6 year old isn't suffocating another at 2 am when others are asleep. This is why removing the child with the emotional difficulties is the best thing to do. Sorry if this angers people.

Many of the posters said "Well the step-daughter is probably going through a lot because her parents aren't together and she may be jealous of the other children..." Yes this is true, BUT parents are responsible for the well-being of their kids. If one of your children is showing signs of aggression towards others, which is bordering on life-threatening, it is the job of the parents to remove that child from the home immediately - step-child or biological child. Once ALL children are safe, then the parents can now focus on getting the child in question the appropriate therapy, medication, mentoring, etc.

YES a 6 year old CAN kill another child, sadly, they can even kill themselves. Just this past April, a 6 year old in Oregon killed herself after being told she had to go to her room for time-out. This is a sad case but clearly the poor child was mentally unstable. She wrapped a belt around her neck and hung herself from the side of the crib. It is debatable whether she meant to do it, but her parents did report that she had already been caught playing with a belt around her neck before. Either way, these things happen and any form of mental instability should be taken seriously, not brushed off as just "kids being kids". 6 year olds can be mentally disturbed just like adults can.

I just had to sound off about this because in the social service field, I've seen so many children taken away because parents refused to see that one of their children was dangerous and needed to be separated from the others. Separation doesn't have to be final, but death IS. I was hoping to share my opinion in the thread itself, but by the time I got there, they shut it down because it was getting to be a heated argument.

Incidentally, many other members believed that the original poster was a fake or a "Troll" as they call them, and was just writing this to cause chaos on the board. Either way, I think it's an important discussion to have and am disappointed about how many people felt that it was okay to ignore the violent and aggressive behaviors because the child was "going through a lot".

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