There's good parenting, there's bad parenting and then there's REALLY bad parenting

Earlier today, Moody Mom and Yavonda of Baby and the Beasts blogged about the unpopular decision made by father of 4-year-old McKenna May.

May, who is currently in remission after battling cancer for more than 2 years, will not be making a trip to DisneyWorld, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation because her father, who recently re-obtained visitation rights with her, would not agree to it.  May’s father, William, believes that such gifts should be given to those who are terminally ill. Since McKenna is no longer considered terminally ill, William would not sign the trip agreement.

So, the question we’re asking today is: Is William practicing good parenting or is he being unjust in his decision.

Personally, I’ve never been to DisneyWorld. I have, however, been four years old before. I have been considered terminally ill in my life. I have been diagnosed with a chronic disorder that often times is granted wishes by Make-A-Wish.  However, I have been taught to not take advantage of things that I do not qualify for by definition.

For example, though my condition justifies me getting a handicap sticker on my license plate, I do not have one. I feel that those spaces should go to those who are much more deserving of them. As a result, I personally choose to walk a few more feet, because I have that ability.

It took me years to sign up for FMLA with my previous employment. I didn’t feel initially that my health concerns would justify me taking time off every once in a while to ensure my health.

As a child, I always felt guilty because I would get to be put in front of various lines because of my condition. I wanted to wait in line just like everyone else (though, I admit, being able to go first at amusement parks was kind of nice!).

And so, I never was a fan of receiving charity. As a matter of fact, three years ago, I qualified to go to DisneyWorld with my family, free of charge. I just had to get there under my own power. The trip happened to land on my daughter’s birthday. I had the opportunity to be the best mommy in the entire world. But, because it was granted to patients with Epidermolysis Bullosa (which is the condition I was born with), I eventually rescinded my stake on the claim and opted to have it given to a child who was much sicker and more terminal than I ever was.

And so, do I feel that Mr. May is being a bad parent? Not necessarily. The original mission of the Make-A-Wish Foundation was to give terminally ill children one final wish… one last memory… before they pass. Now, Make-A-Wish gives these away to even those who may not be given ‘the bad news’, but to those with chronic and ‘potentially’ life threatening illnesses.

As McKenna’s condition was at one point life threatening, she qualified twice, but could not go because of her state. I understand where her father is coming from. He is trying to teach his child to not take charity where charity isn’t deserved. I get that. In that instance, I say good for him.

However, at the same time, I feel that since Make-A-Wish has offered little McKenna the trip based upon the last two years of her life, which was in the balance, he should let her go. She’s only four. He can teach her charity and selflessness another day.


And then there’s bad parenting

I work nights at the Democrat-Gazette, so, I was immediately aware of the shooting in Colorado while the rest of the country was sleeping. I was among the first to hear of babies in the theater, possibly covered in blood….

….Wait.. BABIES?

Batman: Dark Knight is rated PG-13, which translates, generally, to “lots of violence, maybe some sex and probably a few f-bombs”.

What happened 12 hours ago was a horrific tragedy, there’s no doubt. I feel sorry for everyone that was involved. The image I saw from the home video of a man completely covered in blood being escorted out of the theater by a police officer is now indelible in my mind.

But… babies?

Why, on this green earth would a parent take an infant with them to a PG-13 movie? Granted, when Kathryn was 3 months old, I took her to a movie. But, I took her to see “Shrek”, a happy light-hearted children’s movie with adult undertones. I did not take my 3-month-old to a loud, voilence-ridden action-packed movie that could have made my infant wail at loud, earth-shaking noises.

Some may say I may not understand the parents’ situation, or that I may never know what reason a parent had for taking their infant to the theater.

There IS no reason to take your infant to a PG-13 or higher movie; much less a midnight first-showing of such movie as was this case.

If you can’t find a babysitter, you simply don’t go and wait for the movie to come out at your local RedBox. George and I had to do that countless times when Kathryn was an infant. We couldn’t afford a babysitter and our closest relative was 700 miles away.

A nine-year-old I understand. I get that. I have one of those now. But an infant?! Or even a preschooler?! Really?! Grow up, stay home and be a parent and thank whatever God you believe in that your child is unharmed.



And then there’s REALLY bad parenting

This weekend, a young girl from Wisconsin will be returning home after a week of summer camp, just as she’s done every year for the past ten years.

Meanwhile, at home, a town is reeling and mourning the loss of three girls, ages 11, 8 and 5 following their murder.

I held that young girl at summer camp hours after she was born. I changed her diapers. I even allowed her to help me decide which wedding dress was prettiest. She made me a bracelet when she was 4. It’s still in my jewelry box.

I attended college in River Falls, WI and lived there for three years afterwards. River Falls is small. Everyone there knows everyone else in one way or another. I even made a friend here in Arkansas who happened to live there around the same time I did, though we didn’t meet until 3 years ago.

River Falls is a town where something as minor as a break-in shocks the town. I know. I was the victim of such crime in said town. It was front page news the following day.

And so, such a crime as a murder silences the town. A triple murder is shocking. A triple murder committed by the children’s’ father is unfathomable. For a father to stab his three children in the neck and then tuck them back in their beds and then call their mother and tell her that he killed her babies sounds like something out of a horror movie. But it happened.

It happened to a classmate of the little girl returning from camp this week. It happened to two girls the same age as the children of a former boyfriend of mine. It happened to a student of a friend’s neighbor.

It happened yards from the home of the little girl returning from camp.

It happened.

It happens.

It’s sad.


About gespurr

Emily was born in Southwestern Louisiana and has moved over 20 times in her life through nine different states. Most of her life was spent in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, where she met her husband and had her only child. Both she and her husband are also only children. She graduated from Stillwater (MN) High School in 1992 and from the University of Wisconsin in 1997 with a BS in Journalism. Three years later, she met her husband, George, and they married in 2002. Their daughter, Kathryn, was born early in 2004. She relocated with her family back to Arkansas in 2005 after being away for 30 years. She currently works as a customer service representative for an insurance company and lives in North Little Rock. When not taking care of her daughter she is either cooking, working, cleaning house, sewing, gardening, knitting, crocheting hiking, traveling or spending time with her husband.

Posted on July 20, 2012, in Current Events, Family & Marriage, Parenting. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I’ve read about the WDW thing and I can’t really categorize it as good or bad. It just won’t sort cleanly in my mind. Sometimes parenting is not good or bad, just different than what another might do when faced with the same choices. I think his refusal falls there (for me).
    As to PG-13 babies, I’m almost tired of wearying this around my brain after all these years. The problem is so much larger than children being exposed to adult-themed material. It is about putting the welfare and upbringing of a child above your own wants as an adult. Maybe it’s “not fair” that you have to wait for the DVD or pay for a babysitter in order to see your much anticipated movies, but it’s the RIGHT thing to do and it’s the mature, responsible thing to do.
    I sat through a lot of Teletubbie & Clifford the Big Red Dog BS in my day. Not because I wanted to, but because my children wanted to. In fact, I didn’t do or watch many, MANY things my little heart desired when my children were small.
    And I didn’t always have a sunny attitude about, either, I’ll be honest. But I did it! And sometimes I snuck in some HBO when they napped. So there. 🙂

  2. Don’t you think it’s kind of ridiculous to assume that a 3-month-old baby will somehow soak in the violence and whatnot of of movie? And don’t you feel ashamed for somehow blaming the parents of this baby when all they did was take their sleeping, quiet infant to a dark theater where she could go on sleeping and her parents could get some much-needed R&R? Sheesh.

    • Actually, now, it’s more than that as I’m sure you’ve heard on the news.

      But, the point I’m attempting to reiterate is the fact that they took the child to the theater (which I don’t have much problem with).. that was louder than sensitive ears may be able to handle, at midnight when the movie was absolutely most crowded. Obviously, they couldn’t wait and took the 4 year old sibling too. There’s also the respect to the other patrons in the event the baby screams. I’m a parent and when Kathryn was an infant, her cries were particularly unpredictable at times.
      That’s the point I’m trying to drive home.. Nothing directly that has to do with what happened in the end at said theater, but instead what motivated the parents to make the decisions they did that night prior to the shooting.

  3. I’ve allowed the circumstances of the theater shooting to rattle about in my mind for a while in the interest of not jumping to conclusions. Regarding the parents who felt they had to bring their children [of any age less than 10] out to the midnight premier of a movie: they are not only bad parents but also bad people. This was the first screening of a movie that a) would have remained in theaters for weeks (months, if one considers “cheap” theaters) and b) would have likely been out on DVD and streaming media before the end of the year. Why did adults *have* to be there, to say nothing of the children?

    Some may say that the a handful of the parents would have wanted to provide their children with the experience of going to a midnight first-screening. I submit that the “experience” is one of choking crowds, astronomical prices, distraction, noise, and general poor movie going conditions. Those who wanted that experience for their kids should be classified as mentally handicapped. Other parents would say that they had no choice, no one to care for the children. Not wanting to repeat myself, reference points “a” and “b” above. They did not *have* to be there. They made a choice and a poor one.

    As for the father who abandonded his family, who knows what wild whim overtook him in the heat of terror. Regardless, he should be ashamed of himself and his family should consider a functioning replacement.

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