This morning, I sat down at my desk with my coffee and logged on to read the day's news.
Immediately I wished I hadn't.
The main headlines were horrific. Russian woman beheads child in her care. Babysitter kills infant. Father indicted in death of children. Mother throws autistic child off bridge. Young mother arrested for killing of 6-month old infant. And those are only a few of the horrible deaths of children reported.
What the hell???
Has the world always been such a violent, dangerous, horrible place?? Or have I led such a sheltered life that I never knew that children are murdered every day by those they should be able to trust?
Are divorcing parents so unable to be adults and SHARE their children with their ex-spouse, that killing them in revenge seems a good idea??
Is help for some exhausted parents so unavailable that one woman thought the best solution was to throw her disabled child off a bridge? The woman even did internet searches to find out how high the bridge had to be to kill the child.
Oh. My. God.
If you are a single parent, divorced parent, or the parent of a special needs child and you find yourself overwhelmed...PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE ask for help. You don't have to contact social services. Call a church or synagogue, contact a school counselor and ask about area services, contact your local health department or hospital and ask about mental health services or support groups. Don't let things get so far out of control that you kill or harm your children!!! There is help out there!
My first marriage ended in divorce. And it was rough. I was stressed and lonely most of the time. I remember feeling overwhelmed, but it never got so far out of hand that I even thought of harming my son. But, I can see how some people lose control. We are all human. As parents, we make mistakes. And every human being has limits to what they can handle. A person who is past their stress limit can make bad decisions they wouldn't normally even consider. There are local services to help those who reach that limit. If you find yourself having violent thoughts because you are angry with your ex-spouse, please ask for help. Grief, pain of loss and upheaval in life can cause normally stable people to have a mental break. If you find yourself having thoughts that might put them in danger, ask for help before you harm your children.
I do sympathize with those who have children who require 24/7 attention and care. I can comprehend how stressful, tiring and emotionally exhausting that must be. ASK FOR HELP. Find a respite care program and get a break once in awhile. Find a parent support group, or even an online forum, to talk to other parents of children with similar issues. There are grief and loss groups to help people get through a divorce and the aftermath. Don't let your feelings and emotions get out of control. There are others out there dealing with the same issues. Use the internet to get help -- not to research how to throw your child off a bridge.
Be very, very cautious who you hire to watch your children. Online hiring services for nannies and babysitting care can be attractive because it's simple and easier than going through the hiring process yourself. But, it's not necessarily safe. I knew a woman who was completely unbalanced. We met her through mutual friends, and she would come to our house to join in game nights, holiday parties, etc. We watched her son while she worked sometimes. After a few months, her behavior became so completely mental that I had to tell her she was no longer welcome in my home. Months later, I happened to see an ad online....she had placed a resume with a care service to provide elder care and babysitting services. All of the facts and background she listed on her online resume were made up -- she listed medical experience and certifications I knew she didn't have. I called the agency immediately and asked if they realized everything on this woman's online resume was a lie. Don't hire babysitting care for your children (or your elderly parents) online without doing an extensive background and reference check YOURSELF on ANYONE you bring into your home for babysitting or daycare!!! Online services might say they check on their staff, but obviously sometimes they don't.
I'm 47 years old and I have just now realized how sheltered a life I have lived. I can't say I don't live in a world where babysitters behead children, or women throw their kids off bridges, because I do. I feel ashamed that I never noticed how often parents lose control and harm their kids. I have to do something. I can't just sit here and pass judgement, or say this won't happen in my neighborhood. I have a responsibility to do something, even if this never happens to anybody I know. I'm going to do some checking in my local area and find out what services there are to help local parents. I'm going to be sure that the groups I'm involved with have that information on hand to help parents that reach the end of their rope. And I'm going to research and write up a brochure with information on how to investigate child or elder care providers.
It's a small drop in the bucket, but at least I don't have my head buried in the sand anymore.