On Friday, a five-year-old boy in my hometown of Atlanta was crushed to death in front of his parents in a local restaurant.
It was a terrible tragedy. When I clicked on the story under the “trending” section on Facebook, these three comments were at the very top:
- “[Keep] your unruly wandering asshole babies out of adult restaurants…”
- “…people have to start being held accountable for being shit parents.”
- “…maybe they should have cared enough for the child not to let him wander away from the table.”
I understand the pull to find someone to blame, especially when an innocent child loses his life in a way that theoretically could have been prevented. But here’s the thing: This is the entirely wrong way to respond. Here’s why:
These parents are going through worse than hell right now
These broken parents just lost their child. The very last thing they need to hear is how it was all their fault.
It’s already over and done
Telling these parents what they did wrong does not help them even a little bit. They’ve already lost their son. Anything other than condolences can only make things worse.
Parents are not perfect, and accidents happen
My son broke his leg when he was two, and you know what? I could have prevented it.
I was sitting on my bed with him. He was getting on the bed and sliding off, having a great time. But one time as he was sliding off the bed, his foot got caught in between the box spring and the bed frame, and as his body went downward, his foot stayed in place. The result: a broken tibia.
Had I been vigilant about him not being allowed on my bed – like I am now – I could have prevented it. But, despite trying to be the best parent I can be, I failed at implementing this safety measure at the time.
Even though I was an imperfect parent, I also know two things: I am not a “shit parent.” And I assure you that I “care enough” about my child.
Parents are not perfect, and accidents happen. It is only for those few unfortunate souls that our parenting mistakes result in the death of our children.
Showcase your decency, not your supposed parenting expertise
If your goal is to impress people, impress them with your generosity, empathy, and kindness. Everyone wants a kind friend. No one wants to be friends with someone who publically calls other parents “shit parents.”
If you think you have parenting expertise to share, don’t share even one iota of it with parents who’ve lost a child. Double down and pitch an article to Parent.co. Let’s see what you got.
Learn from these parents’ tragedy
Instead of broadcasting your opinions about the parents, learn from their tragedy. Educate yourself on how to prevent the leading causes of accidental death for your children.
These parents need your love and support
Channel your grief into love and support rather than hate and anger. Send them flowers. Donate money. Write them a note. If you’re a person of faith, pray for them. If you want to contribute a few words on social media, make them words of condolences and kindness.
If any parent in this situation has done anything criminally wrong, the authorities will take care of it, not you. In this case, a terrible accidental tragedy occurred.
These parents need every bit of kindness and love they can get right now.