Thursday, October 30, 2008

What IS best for the child?

Have you heard about Nebraska's safe haven law? Parents have been leaving children as old as 17 in designated safe havens because they no longer felt capable of raising them.

The law was intended to protect infants, but they're now having to call a special session because the law as written did not specify an age.

We mommy bloggers can joke, or even write seriously sometimes, about how much our children can drive us crazy, but this whole thing begs the question: where is our support?

I've talked about this in terms of educating our children, but it also needs to be dealt with in broader terms.

I know someone who felt much like the mother in the article above did. The mother in the article states, “I ran out of fight. I ran out of hope.” I know someone who knows exactly how she feels.

The mother I knew looked for resources. She thought about one of those boot camps, but that's when the stories started coming out about children dying there, so that was a no go (not to mention, she couldn't afford it). When her son was arrested, she hoped that the juvenile court system would have resources available that could help. Instead, he just met more hardened criminals, and even seemed to prefer life behind bars where nothing was expected of him. She took away his freedoms - took away every luxury item he owned. She took him to counselors - there was nothing they could do for him.

All parents could use a little help now and then. Why do you think a show like Supernanny is so successful? Because we see that so many parents feel as lost as we can sometimes. Most of us are horrified by the parents' and the children's behavior, but on some level, we can relate to feeling like we just can't do this anymore.

Now, of course, I would never abandon my children. Of course, I would never attempt to drive to Nebraska before they change the law. But I also have to honestly admit that there are times that I think, "wow. I have no clue what I'm doing, and I can't do this anymore." There are times when I have looked for courses in parenting - and found that they're usually only available by court mandate.

Sure, there are 1,000 books I could read, but none of them speak directly to my children and me, specifically, as a mom.

I do go back to therapy once in a while, mainly for the sole purpose of having an expert help me. But I know that's not available for everyone.

It's so easy to place the blame on parents - and usually deserved - when children go wrong. But should the child really suffer for the parent's ignorance? Shouldn't there be somebody there to say, hey, here's another way to handle this.

It usually only happens in the cases of severe abuse. But what about simply screwing up?

No, I don't think we should mandate it. No, I don't want our government raising our children.

But I would like to see more support out there available for parents. And I think that what's happening in Nebraska is an indication that more of us feel desperate more often than what we'd like our neighbors, family, friends, and yes even readers, to think.

People like to make fun of Desperate Housewives, and I wish it would go back to what was originally great about it. My favorite moment - ever - from that show was when Felicity Huffman's character was down in that field, crying, and telling her friends she had no idea what she was doing as a mom. Her friends all comforted her, and relayed their biggest fears and moments of inadequacy. She looked at them (I'll never forget this), and said (and I'm paraphrasing of course), "why didn't you tell me these things? We should tell each other this stuff!"

We should, but we don't. It takes us a long, long time to feel comfortable enough that our friends won't judge us as terrible parents. Luckily, I have Kori now - and others - that I can be that honest.

And, btw, if any of you want to email me your deepest fears, I'm here without judgment. In fact, I defy you to confess an emotion that I haven't felt as a parent!

But I know this isn't the norm.

I do think that mommy blogging is opening that door for us, though. I think that the longer we blog, and the more supportive comments we receive, the braver we get to confessing our downfalls, our missteps, and then we can all breath a deep sigh of relief..."yes! She's felt that, too!" Such power in knowing we're not alone.

Not all (or sometimes any) of us will have all the answers, but the greater we build this community, and the more open and honest (withOUT JUDGMENT) we are to sharing, just think of all the great things we can learn, and how much stronger our families, and our children can be!

But alas, looks like we'll not be able to threaten that trip to Nebraska much longer!


Zoeyjane said...

But here's one thing that is askew about the mommy blogging: for every one blogger who is writing these truths, about the moments they've cried or thought of running away, or just simply felt like a failure, there's another 10 blogs out there of mommies whose hair is flat and shiny, lipgloss is Nars, children are silent little geniuses and dinner is organic.

I know that is entirely judgemental of me to say, but like you did - it goes back to when Huffman's character was hopped up to fit into the cookiecutter. I think most of the mommy blogs are perpetuating the false imagery, not clarifying it.

Jen said...

April, I think one of the main issues is that there IS so much judgment in our society today. People are scared to discuss their fears or bad parenting decisions because they're worried about the DSS coming down on them, etc.

Having been in the homeschooling community for six years and seeing the constant harrassment that families faced when they were such good, caring parents doing a far finer job educating their kids than their local school systems were drove me crazy.

There are bad parents everywhere. There are excellent parents everywhere. But most are just normal parents, and with the pressures that our children face on a daily basis, we do need loving, non-judgmental resources to turn to.

The law in Nebraska has been changed to infants under three days old. But what about six months down the line when the baby is crying and crying and mom has worked a 16-hour shift and has a splitting headache and just can't take it anymore? Where can she go where she's not going to "hurt" her baby? If a parent is at the point of feeling violence, there should be a safe haven. Even for a few hours. And that doesn't mean that's a bad parent - it might just be a parent who has nothing more to give at that very moment.

Ugh... sorry... off my soapbox now.

Tara R. said...

You know some of the drama I've had with my son's schooling... I cannot tell you how many times I have locked myself in my room and totally lost it. I have never cried that hard and that long for any other reason that the complete isolation, desperation and frustration I feel when I can't do anything to help him. I can emphasize with parents who feel they are at the end of their options. I am fortunate in that I have a great support in my husband and all of our parents. I'm one of the lucky ones.

The Exception said...

This is an excellent post for so many reasons. I know that things get really hard for me in January and February - in the darkest days of the year. It is that feeling that I just want to stop. What happens if I just stop? Who will keep the ball rolling? I have no answers because I keep going, but it is becoming an annual question that I pose to my daughter's dad. I just need a break. I know that there are parents out there who need that break more than do I. They need to stop. I agree with Jenn - there needs to be a safe place for women and men to take their kids when they need that brake!!

Anonymous said...

After I read your original post, I wanted to write one comment, but after I read the comments, I'm on to another.

The reason I started SWM, was so I could have moms to identify with my life as a single, not-so-perfect mom with a young child.

On my "other" blog, I can't feel I can't do that. Too many people read it. I don't want mass people I don't really know all that well, judging me. Maybe that's my ego and I need to read New Earth, but I'll tell YOU, or my IRL friends, or Liz that my kid got kicked out of daycare for biting. But not on my other blog. On there, I might be perceived as the organic mom with the flat hair and Nars lipgloss. I am most certainly NOT, but you wouldn't know it. Maybe.

On SWM, however, I'm myself. Me. I talk about my kid getting kicked out of daycare, my struggles, my triumphs. And I've connected with people like you, Liz, Kori, and PH who make me feel not so alone.

Kori said...

One of the biggest things I am all for is support. Andrea Yates would not have killed her kids by drowning them in the bathtub had she had some sort of support, some way to connect with other women who would validate that sometimes, even a lot of the time, being a parent sucks. It is hard, it is terrifying, it is overhwelming at time. We want to kill our kids sometimes-and any mom who says she doesn't relate to that comment is lying out her ass. The difference between taking that step and not is support-being able to say out loud that I can't take this for another moment. I am not condoning anyone stepping over the line into abuse or, gasp, murder, but I would also be lying if I said I don't know how it gets to that point-I DO. All of us do. I love this, April, and I love you. And I did not know that SWM had another blog, so am I the only one out of the loop there? :)

Anonymous said...

It would be so nice if there were more support that is easily accessible out there for parents!

Anonymous said...

Oh, SWM, I totally understand it, really. I didn't mean to come across as so judgemental! I meant to say merely that we DO all need to encourage each other to be more honest about our shortcomings, dramas and reservations. Even if it's a super secret blog that no one we would normally see in comments shows up. Because for every mom who says "I don't think I can do this, today," there are at least 5 reading, thinking, "I'm so happy I'm not alone."

aside: captcha's word is 'exual' tee hee.

Shiona said...

The bottom line is support. I was going to write a post about how my son depends on me for support but alas I realize I don't have much support myself so I'll just ax it. The Nebraska situation highlighted a couple of problems with the foster care system and the vague wording itself. Great post.

Suzie said...

Support for parents is rare and badly needed

Unknown said...

Very interesting post. Lately I've been feeling that I cannot do this anymore...these children are driving me fucking batshit crazy and I want to run. Seriously. Even with the transition of going back to work full-time and having them in quality childcare, the whole morning and evening routines - plus the whole 2nd job I have AFTER they go to bed is making me insane.

Then I think about Baby Daddy and his twins birth mother. She gave them up for adoption when they were 3 years olds. THREE YEARS OLD. She must have had a lot of problems and I think it's horrendous, but instead of doing something irrational and crazy like blowing the pop stand or drowning her boys, she gave them up. I just don't know how she could give up like that though after three years. I know I never could, but some days I can relate. I just want to take out my savings and leave the country...take up residence in a hut in New Zealand or something, never to be found again.

*SIGH* Great post.