Parenting

It Only Happens to Other People, Until it Happens to You

There was an Amber Alert in my area yesterday, for a 3-month old boy who had inadvertently been kidnapped in the course of someone stealing the running car he was in; his father had allegedly left it running as he ran into a store (that is what (I have heard and read, thus far).

The boy was found safe a few hours later, thankfully, in the abandoned car. As soon police shared that update, the judgment started to flow.

“He should be shot!” was one comment.

“Thank god baby is safe. That was a close call. Parents were given a one time chance. Hopefully, they know better now and will never leave this baby alone in a car again.” To this comment, I responded with: “Yes, because that is what the father needs right now: the internet’s unbridled judgment.”

People make mistakes. Stupid, horrible, last-minute mistakes; some that they will regret the rest of their lives. We live in an it-will-never-happen-to-me bubble that allows us the ability to make these stupid, horrible mistakes.

But regardless, that is what they are: mistakes. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are that caused this father to leave his son in a running car, or whether or not he was standing right beside the car when it happened (I read that somewhere too), it matters only that this father made a last minute, stupid, horrible mistake that he will live with the rest of his life. I am sure his wife will have trust issues while the baby is in his care from now until the end of time, and he will live the rest of his days convincing her that he can take care of their child.

The absolute last thing he needs right now is the world pointing fingers at him; I am sure he is doing a great deal of pointing himself.

Having lost a child, I can describe in detail the guilt, anguish, and despair he felt in the hours before his son was found safe.

Unless he willfully left the child in the car in hopes that someone would steal it, or unless he orchestrated the whole thing, I think this man needs our sympathy, not our shaming and finger-pointing.

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