Protecting Our Children From All Harm and Other Impossible Parenting Tasks

Last week, as a family from Nebraska enjoyed the evening breeze on the beach at the Grand Floridian Hotel at Walt Disney World, a monster was lurking at the water’s edge. Signs were posted stating that swimming wasn’t allowed in the area. In a perfect example of “hindsight is 20/20”, of course the parent’s would alter where they allowed their tiny 2-year-old son to splash in the water if given the chance, but in life, we don’t always get a second chance.

As happens with all news stories fueled by our instant social media connection, parents immediately began to hurl accusations and blame at the grief-stricken parents. The father attempted to fight the alligator to free his son, but the wild animal succeeded in taking the life of the young boy. Though the parents undoubtedly will feel insurmountable pain and regret, playing that scene over and over again in their minds, I pray that they know deep inside themselves that this was a tragic accident.

An accident. Have you had an accident with your child? Hopefully, the accident was not deadly. But, we’ve all had them. Maybe you left the baby alone on the changing table, and turned your back, just for a split second, to grab a new diaper. You know that a child shouldn’t be left alone for even a split second, that a child who has never rolled over in his life, will suddenly learn to roll when you’re not looking. Perhaps, you’ve looked at your phone while driving? Were your kids in the backseat? We all know that isn’t the right thing to do. We know it’s dangerous. We all know that accidents can happen.

My daughter once locked our grandson in the car. It’s been 24 years ago. Back when social media couldn’t get a hold of the story and vilify her for doing such a horrible thing. Thankfully, it wasn’t a terribly warm day. She realized as soon as she buckled him in the car seat and shut the door, that she had locked him inside the car with her keys. She quickly called the police, who sent the fire department, with sirens blaring, to help her get him out of the car. An accident that ended positively for my daughter, but for some, has come to a very tragic end.

Recently, another child got away from his mother, and fell into an enclosure at the zoo that housed a gorilla. Again, parents from all over social media came out with their blame-enflamed pitchforks pointed at the mom; a mom whose son got away from her. Raise your hand if you’ve found yourself in a store, or an amusement park, or a ZOO and you can’t find your child. It happens. Maybe your child didn’t fall into a gorilla enclosure when you lost him for a second, but could something just as tragic have happened? Sure.

Accidents happen. We’ve been given our children as a gift from God. We love them, protect them to the best of our ability, and we fail sometimes. Let’s stop pointing fingers at other parents when accidents happen. Instead, lets embrace our imperfections, and offer a helping hand to other moms and dads trying to do the best they can. Let’s remember this quote from Dave Willis:
There are no perfect parents, and there are no perfect children, but there are plenty of perfect moments along the way.

Randel C. Goad – Mandt Faculty Supervisor