As parents I’ve always believed that all of us want our children to achieve their full potential and to do amazing things with their lives, we also never want for them to be fearful of anything, real or imagined.
But what happens when a child’s fear is not imagined and is in fact very real. When the one thing they’re most fearful of is the person who they should be able to trust the most?
A story in the news this week in Adelaide has parents—actually not just parents but every living, breathing individual—up in arms over the treatment of a four-year-old little girl in 2012, who died as a result of the cruel treatment dished out by her mother and her boyfriend.
As the story is told, they put this little girl on a 50kg motorbike and over a period of three days made her ride it around the backyard while they videotaped it for their own enjoyment. Despite her terror and numerous crashes, they kept picking her up and putting her back on.
A final crash into a tree at almost 40km/h caused serious injury and despite complaining of her injuries when they put her to bed they did nothing. The following day she slipped into unconsciousness and they waited a further eight hours before seeking help, turning instead to Google for answers about what to do when someone is unconscious. She died as a result of them not seeking medical assistance.
There are many more facts, there’s much more to the story and there’s also a history of social welfare intervention—but nobody actually stepped in and took this child away from her mother, nobody in fact did anything to save her despite their knowledge that things weren’t quite right.
This week, the mother and her boyfriend were both sentenced, with the mother receiving an eight-year prison sentence with a non-parole period of just under five years. That’s a measly year in prison for every year her child was alive.
It’s a pitiful and sad sentence but sadly I think it’s also indicative of the ‘hands off’ society that we’re now living in.
I understand that in this day and age we don’t want to get involved, we mind our own business and we look after our own. But I also think it’s a sad state of affairs when, as individuals, we shy away from getting involved when an innocent and trusting little girl is left in the clutches of such disturbed people.
I also think it’s a travesty of mammoth proportions that with all our laws and child protection agencies that nobody saved this little girl.
I know bad things happen to small children and it makes my stomach churn each and every time I hear about one of them. Little Chloe Valentine was just one of many, who as a society we all failed to protect. (Please be aware that I have not linked to any of the footage or the story as I find it too upsetting to watch or read about)
No I didn’t know her personally but as a parent who cherishes her own children and grandchildren it makes me sick to even hear about it. I will stand up and get involved when something is going on around me which I know to be wrong. These children are our future and just because they don’t have a voice doesn’t mean we can’t do something about it.
As a result of this case, Adelaide will see a total overhaul of child protection laws with an inquest into the failure of social welfare to intervene. For little Chloe, it’s a case of too-little-too-late, but one can only hope that we can all learn from this and prevent this kind of thing ever happening again.
I know that sometimes we should stay out of things which aren’t our business but in this case would you have gotten involved?
This is an original World Moms Blog post by Fiona from Inspiration to Dream of Adelaide, South Australia.
The image used in this post is credited to .craig. It holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.
The mere fact that you’re reading this blog post means you have some understanding of social media and how it works. In this day and age you can’t escape the reach of social media, it’s everywhere from Facebook and Twitter to blog posts and everything in between.
Amazing things happen as a result of social media, families tracking down lost family members, people establishing support and advocacy for life changing programs at the blink of an eye, the ability to build and grow friendships and support networks across the world – social media is far reaching and rapid in its results.
As a parent though, social media can and should be terrifying.
For as quick as the good of social media duplicates and creates a movement it can also destroy and damage just as quickly. Reputations, lives, belief systems can all be damaged in the blink of an eye.
I was lucky in some ways, my children were teenagers at the very early onset of social media, so it didn’t impact largely on their early teenage years. As a mother though my mummy heart clenches with what I witness these days on Facebook and Twitter and what I see in the news.
Bullying drops to an all-time low when combined with the reach and anonymity that Facebook provides.
How, as a parent, do you combat this sort of rubbish when most of the time you may not even be aware it is happening? How do schools even get involved with what happens in the cyber world outside the school walls? Teenagers (our babies) are committing suicide because of on-line bullying which is sadly in the news too often these days.
The love of selfies and intimate photos which are shared on Facebook and Twitter amongst tweens and teens (and let’s face it even amongst adults). Something which is done on a whim, or a moment of little thought and once released are out there and never to be reined in again.
Future employers can locate this information, in fact anyone can access this information if they know where and how to look. No person should ever think that what they post is between them and their ‘friends’. I don’t know how many posts I see from parents and teachers posting messages ‘to prove how fast it can spread around the world’ to warn their children.
I read the most amazing post the other day by a mother which she sent to the friends of her child, I don’t know this woman nor her children, but boy did her post hit home and make me realise how important this new element of parenting is. I applaud this show of brave parenting.
You can read her post here.
I’ve always had my children as friends on Facebook, so that I know what they’re posting and what they’re doing. It’s not always an ideal solution because middle son has a tendency of un-friending me when drama is happening in his life. This is a warning in its self and now that he’s 20 I don’t have as much control, but at least it makes me ask questions.
My quick tips;
- Set the rules for social media use right from the start
- Know what they’re doing and who they’re interacting with
- Make sure you have them as friends on social media
- It also helps to be online friends with their friends
- Monitor but don’t dictate to them, you want them to trust you
- Be aware of what you’re posting yourself that they may see or read
I’d love to hear your thoughts on social media and what you do with your own children to keep them safe. My grandchildren are the next generation of social media users and I plan on being ready and armed to keep them safe in the cyber world.
This is an original World Moms Blog post by Inspiration to Dream of Adelaide, South Australia. Fiona is the writer of Inspiration to Dream and can be found writing or reading with every spare moment that isn’t filled up with work and her three boys, and of course with a bit of spare time thrown in for hubby as well.
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Twenty five years ago today I became a mother for the first time. In some ways it feels like a lifetime ago and in some ways it feels like only yesterday that I was gazing at the face of my oldest son, in both awestruck wonder and sheer terror.
I was seventeen years old and I thought I knew it all, as only a teenager can believe. How wrong I was.
Motherhood is the biggest learning curve any woman can embark on and there is no right or wrong. If you love your child, can keep him safe from any major harm and bring him up to be a halfway decent human being, than I think you’re doing alright.
Then again, sometimes all the right parental steps in the world can’t prevent what life throws at us or what our children become.
The thing is, in my case, if I were to do the motherhood thing over again, I’m not sure that there’s a whole lot I would do differently. Although given a chance, I probably wouldn’t be quite so hard on myself and I’d probably take a little bit more time out for me.
As a young mother I felt like I was constantly having to prove myself, I had to try just a little bit harder, put in a just a little bit more effort, complain a little bit less – basically just suck it up and get on with the job of being a mum to prove everyone wrong.
I was my own toughest critic and at times I could beat myself up better than anyone else about how I was failing as a mother.
The truth is, I wasn’t failing as a mother, and I never did. One of my son’s girlfriends once told me how terrified she was that she wouldn’t be a good mum. I told her the very fact that she was worried that she wouldn’t be meant that she would be fine.
As a mother, you do the best you can with what you have.
I believe that no-one can say what is right or wrong about motherhood. Breast fed baby or bottle fed baby, working mum versus stay-at-home-mum. How we raise our children is our choice and that is what contributes to a world full of people with different personalities, who have a multitude of experiences and knowledge to add to the great big melting pot of people.
Yes I’m feeling slightly nostalgic as we celebrate my oldest baby’s birthday today. I consider many of my friends who now have young children and I wonder whether it would have been wiser (like them) to wait until we were better off financially and more established in our careers and life experience.
When our friends were marching up the career ladder, partying hard and taking overseas holidays; hubby and I were having sleepless nights and staying at home making our own fun and eating home cooked meals.
Then I consider the fact that my children didn’t want for the important things, they had food in their bellies, a roof over their heads and a wealth of love and good times. Yes we struggled financially and stress kept me awake on many long nights. My kids might not have had expensive toys and name brand clothes, but they grew up loving the outdoors and learning to make their own fun.
The best things in life definitely were free – money can’t buy things like imagination, sunshine, nature and water.
Now at the age of 42, I’m ready to start living my life. In the last few years I’ve had to sprint up the career ladder to catch up with others my age and that’s had its own set of challenges as well. The good thing is, my youngest baby is now 16 and I’m still youthful enough to enjoy my life and all the challenges which lie ahead.
Besides when I get nostalgic for babies, I now have my grandchildren to love and adore and the energy to still enjoy them – not to mention the added benefit of being able to hand them back.
The reality is, if I had my time to do over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.
What about you, are there things even now, which you know you would do differently?
This is an original World Moms Blog post by Inspiration to Dream of Adelaide, South Australia. Fiona is the writer of Inspiration to Dream and can be found writing or reading in every spare moment that isn’t filled up with work and her three boys, and of course with a bit of spare time thrown in for hubby as well.
I try to do the right thing most of the time by setting a good example for my teenage / adult children. However, like most mothers, sometimes I’m torn between doing what feels right for me and doing what might be right for the family. I guess that’s because sometimes the two are in direct conflict, or often they seem to be.
On the 9th of August, I walked out of a well-paying job with a company that I’d been with for 12 years. I gave my requisite four weeks’ notice with no job to go to, no immediate plans and only a belief that I had to take the leap because I believed I deserved better.
It was perhaps a little selfish financially in terms of my family, and my husband was totally against me resigning without something else to go to. He had legitimate reasons given that the job market in Australia is considerably flat at the moment, as I’m sure it is in many countries.
I was also worried whether I was setting the right example for my children by just walking away from a good job, I was basically throwing in the towel because things had gotten too hard. My husband is also not a man who likes change, which made my decision even more difficult.
The thing is for many months I felt like I’d been dying inside, I felt like my job was sucking the life out of me. I was working in a company which was under new management and was undergoing massive change and restructuring. The biggest problem was that the importance of change management and communication had gone out the window, things that I hold in very high regard.
Morale had dropped, staff were miserable and were leaving in larger than normal numbers. In the end I decided that my family deserved more than my misery and unhappiness and more than that, so did I. Home was not a happy place for those first few weeks after I resigned, but it hadn’t been for months anyway.
Seven weeks of job searching and plenty of soul searching and I finally have landed the job of my dreams. There are many who voiced their concern and worried about the mistake I was making, those loved ones are now eating their words and telling me that I did the right thing and how brave I was to do it.
My brother recently sent me the following quote, which ironically also arrived in my letterbox in the form of business coaching advertising material in the same week I got the job offer.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” Henry Ford
As scary and as uncertain as my decision was, I fully believed in myself and I took the leap. I knew what I wanted and I was determined to find it, plus I was totally prepared to accept whatever might be.
I knew that I may have to take an interim job in the meantime, if that’s what it took to find the right job and still keep my family on track financially.
My decision could have gone pear shaped and turned out badly, but I’m a big believer that sometimes you just have to believe.
The biggest lesson I’ve taught my children is that you have to believe in yourself, fight for what you are worth and be brave enough to follow your dreams. I’m doing exactly that, I’ve landed my dream job with the financial and personal rewards I know I’m worthy of. I’m now excited about going back to work.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve taught your children and do you back up your words with action?
This is an original World Moms Blog post by Fiona from Inspiration to Dream of Adelaide, South Australia. Fiona can be found writing or reading in every spare moment that isn’t filled up with work and her family.
Image credit Cliparto ID 3130264 – This image is used in compliance with the terms of the Cliparto Standard Royalty Free License Agreement.
My husband and I have four boys – his, mine and ours. We have one child each with other partners and then the two younger ones we have together. They now range in age from 16 – 24 years of age.
This morning my son sent me a text message to say his girlfriend has begun having contractions – which have since stopped and started and stopped again – regardless the baby is coming (be it today, tomorrow or next week) and this has raised all sorts of emotion in me.
This new baby is not biologically my son’s yet he’s been with the baby’s mother for almost the entire pregnancy. The girlfriend treats my son’s little boy like her own and my son in turn has been there for her every step of her baby’s short life from the first movements, to birthing classes, to sticking by her side today as labour has stopped and started and stopped again.
Raising happy, healthy children is a massive undertaking. As is maintaining healthy, sound relationships with all of the involved parties when relationships break up and family dynamics change. Step families have a dynamic all of their own with all of the extra people involved; from different partners and new siblings, through to step parents and step siblings. Wrap this entire group up with lots of emotion, plenty of personality and opinion and you have a good idea of how challenging step families can be.
The early years of family life were challenging in my world – with my husband’s ex-partner, my ex-partner and then all of the grandparents and family members who didn’t suddenly stop loving the children or wanting to see them because their parents had split up.
Consider Christmas which is hard work at the best of times; it’s harder when you have to coordinate four immediate households, four children (plus their step / half siblings) and numerous aunties, uncles and grandparents. Christmas is exhausting to say the least.
You may wonder where I’m leading with this post…
I’m excited for my son and his girlfriend, but I’m also a little reserved because I’m not sure how I should act. Am I a proxy grandma, a step nanny – I’m not really sure where I fit into this picture. This baby already has two sets of grandparents and I don’t want to step on anyone else’s toes. Then I realise I’m probably being stupid about the whole thing and I don’t have to ‘fit’ anywhere. I realise no baby can have too much love or attention and that biology alone does not make a loving family member.
Regardless, I guess this newest member of the family, when he finally arrives (yes, they already know it’s another boy – why am I not surprised?), will no doubt enchant us and beguile us. He’ll add an extra element to Christmas Day and I will goo and gaa over him, hug him and cuddle him just as I do with my own biological grandson.
In the end – happy, healthy babies and loving families are all that matters – biology surely doesn’t count for as much as love and emotion does.
What’s your experience with step families? Do you have special ways of dealing with the ex-partners, extra siblings and family occasions?
This is an original World Moms Blog post by Fiona from Inspiration to Dream of Adelaide, South Australia.
Image credit courtesy of Vlado of Free Digital Photos