Why during a tragedy do some other parents assert it would never happen to them?

Every day when you open the paper or go online, you see stories of tragedies involving children: a three-year-old drowns in a pool, a two-year-old is attacked by an alligator, a six month-old baby is left in a hot car or a six-year-old is killed crossing the street.

shame-on-youAnd accompanying each of these stories online is a comment section. Some relay condolences to the family or share a similar tragedy. But the majority of comments are there to blame the parents, shaming them for their negligence for not being perfect parents.

How dare the mother take her eyes off her child? Didn’t the parents know that alligators live in Florida? How could the over-worked father forget his child? Why was the six-year-old by the busy street alone? Where were those parents?

These are the types of questions posted about the above stories, and then they are almost always followed by the declaration “I would never…”

These parents have never taken their eyes off their child while at a party with a pool. They would never allow their kids to even enter the house or be farther than an arm’s length away from them.

They would have never let their kids be up at 9:30 while on vacation. And playing in the water at that time…shocking!

They are shocked that in this society where parents and kids are often over scheduled that someone could possibly forget their sleeping child in the car. And while I never once forgot my child in the car, I can see how it COULD happen.

This is an evaluation image and is Copyright Rosie Piter. Do not publish without acquiring a license. Image number: 0071-1008-1315-0213. http://www.acclaimimages.com/_gallery/_pages/0071-1008-1315-0213.html

This is an evaluation image and is Copyright Rosie Piter. Do not publish without acquiring a license. Image number: 0071-1008-1315-0213. http://www.acclaimimages.com/_gallery/_pages/0071-1008-1315-0213.html

These perfect parents always hold their kids hands while in the zoo or crossing the street. Yep, they are super great parents who could never have anything bad happen while on their watch. (My husband took his eyes off our six-year-old at Epcot and she disappeared into the crowd to find me. Of course with those thousands of other people milling around waiting for the theme park to open, she couldn’t find me. Luckily she did find a security officer and was back to us within 10 minutes of disappearing.)

I feel sorry of the heart-broken parents if they should ever go online and read all the horrible comments. I guess it might be making the posters feel better to know how much better they are than everyone else. Or at least they can hold on to their false beliefs that nothing bad will ever happen to their child.

But it can. Accidents happen. Events happen all the time that could have been prevented if we thought out all the scenarios and had all the information available to us. But people are living their lives. They aren’t worrying and planning for every contingency. Things sometimes happen fast. We are human. We all make mistakes.

So next time there is a tragedy involving a child, I wish the other parents who respond would take a moment and put themselves in that parent’s place. Think of the grief and the guilt they are feeling. Try to have a little more compassion rather than trumping about how much better of a parent you are.

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