Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Hey, Parents: Need support? Contact the National Parent Helpline®

Trigger warning: child abuse, murder, drug addiction

First off, I'm not into assigning blame. Well, except to the 1%. I'm pretty much always in favor of assigning blame to the 1%. So, if you're not into that sort of thing, I might suggest you take a hike to another site, because I'm just gonna piss you off.

I feel like assigning blame in big, complex problems is a waste of time. Yes, people should be held accountable for their crimes. I'm not saying let all the murderers and rapists move into my neighborhood, and start hanging out with me, and me loving them and some such shit. I'm not Jesus Christ. All human beings are essentially imperfect searching beams of energy just trying to figure out where we're heading. We're all to blame for making mistakes. Stupid mistakes. Hideous mistakes. Seemingly unforgivable mistakes. Basically look at your newsfeed and you'll see quite the array of angst and human suffering, most of it brought on by our stupid and hideous and seemingly unforgivable mistakes.

That's where I saw it, on my newsfeed. Have you heard the awful news about poor Baby Bella? One of her caregivers killed her because she was fussy at bedtime.

OK, probably not just fussy. As any parent knows, toddlers are prone to fits and temper tantrums. Especially at bedtime.

Baby Bella's caregivers thought she was possessed by demons. I kid you not. I mean, what caregiver hasn't thought the same thing about a child in front of them with flailing arms and legs who keeps knocking her head into the hardwood floor? But most of us don't kill our kids, even if we occasionally wonder if they're demonic. Thank God. Thank education. Thank our instincts. Thank the energy that connects us all and what have you.

Two-year-olds who scream and throw fits at bedtime are not actually possessed by demons. Two-year-olds who scream and throw fits at bedtime are healthy, normal kids who are acting completely developmentally appropriately in a culture that, for a little over a hundred years had "experts" telling parents that they should not tend to their child's every whim for fear of raising a spoiled brat, and that allowing a child to sleep in bed with you will lead to dependency in the child and an unhappy sex life for the adults.

Actually, the opposite is true. Children grow bigger brains and healthier bodies when their needs are met by a responsive caregiver. We have science to prove it. And instincts to feel it.

Oh, and the sex thing? Dude, do you only have sex in bed? And also: date night sleepovers at grandma and grandpa's house. It's called familial support. Some days I sit here in my air conditioned, suburban house and wonder if we'd be better off living in tribes. Everyone would be all up in yo grill, but you'd have lots of access to babysitters. Parenting is easier when you're not doing it alone.

The fact is, young children often do not like to sleep alone. It's perfectly natural. And more and more people are finally figuring it out.

Here is an eye-opening paragraph in an amazing post by Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D., entitled Dangers of 'Crying It Out': Damaging children and their relationships for the longterm, from Psychology Today, December 11, 2011:
"I was raised in a middle-class family with a depressed mother, harsh father and overall emotionally unsupportive environment--not unlike others raised in the USA. I have only recently realized from extensive reading about the effects of early parenting on body and brain development that I show the signs of undercare--poor memory (cortisol released during distress harms hippocampus development), irritable bowel and other poor vagal tone issues, and high social anxiety. The USA has epidemics of poor physical and mental health (e.g., UNICEF, 2007; USDHSS, 1999; WHO/WONCA, 2008). The connection between the lack of ancestral parenting practices and poor health outcomes has been documented for touch, responsiveness, breastfeeding, and more (Narvaez et al., in press). If we want a strong country and people, we've got to pay attention to what children need for optimal development."
If we want a strong country and people, we need to think about more than just the most powerful. We need to educate ourselves and take better care of our children. Our nation for too long has been neglecting its children and blaming it on individual parents for their shitty mistakes, their poverty, their drug addiction, their moral failings. Our so-called Christian nation needs to turn its focus away from the rich and glamorous and powerful people and pay more attention to the smallest, the vulnerable, the powerless, the least of these my brethren.

Matthew 25, King James' Version:
"35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
Baby Bella's is such a sad story. Reports say that Bella Bond was abused and killed by either her mom's boyfriend or her mom. With no other witnesses to Baby Bella's death coming forth so far, it's a case of he-said-she-said. The state prosecutor has arrested the boyfriend on murder charges, and the mother as an accessory in the killing of this little girl. Both of them are said to be recovering from addictions to heroin. The mother gave birth to Bella in a homeless shelter and has numerous arrests for prostitution in her past.

It's such a sad story, and so frustrating because it's completely avoidable. We don't need exorcisms. We need education. And counseling. And support. Parenting toddlers is one of the hardest jobs on the planet. Can you imagine how difficult it is to parent a toddler while addicted to heroin, homeless, and a prostitute? We need to help parents who are hopelessly stuck in chaotic lives figure out ways to end the cycle of abuse. That takes money they don't have. Money many of us don't have, while the richest 1% in our nation enjoy record-breaking earnings.

In a broad sense, I say one of the answers to this complex problem of child abuse in our society is to start electing people who care about people rather than corporations and Big Money.

But you don't have to wait for elected officials to solve all our problems for us. Let's help each other. Let's support each other. Let's quit blaming "bad parents" for their mistakes and start offering help. Volunteer to work with children. Become a Big Brother or a Big Sister. Become a foster parent. Tutor kids at your local public school. Coach basketball. Get involved in the lives of children in your community.

And, if you need help, don't be ashamed to ask. It takes a brave soul to reach out for help.

If you need parenting support, contact the National Parent Helpline®:

1-855-4APARENT
(1-855-427-2736)

 National Parent Helpline® is a service of Parenting Anonymous. Here's a blurb from their website:

"Being a parent is a critically important job, 24 hours a day. It’s not always easy. Call the National Parent Helpline® to get emotional support from a trained Advocate and become empowered and a stronger parent."