What’s the matter here?

I’m tired of the excuses everybody uses, he’s your kid, do as you see fit. But get this through that I don’t approve of what you do to your own flesh and blood 10,000 Maniacs

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around stories like this one, out of Virginia, that involves a child found, caged in a crib, starving, and covered in feces. There are other horrid details, including the remains of another child found on the property, that I won’t go into. But, suffice it to say, it is unbelievably sad and gut wrenching to read.

As a mother, I spend a fair amount (some* might argue excessive amount) of time worrying about my kids health, well-being and safety. So the idea of a child being put in a such a position, by the parent of that child, is unfathomable to me. It goes against every emotion and instinct I have felt since I first gave birth several years ago.

But, OK, sure: I’m not perfect. I have plenty of (daily) moments when I get angry and use my (ahem) loud voice in order to get the message through to my little ones on a number of issues. These issues might include putting your shoes in a place that is NOT the middle of the living room (thank you), not making the same high-pitched squeaky noise over and over again during ‘Glee’ (STOP it already!) and, for the love of god, just get along with your sister and LET HER BE BATMAN IF THAT IS WHAT WILL MAKE HER HAPPY!! (OK, breathe…..)

So I get it: Parenting can be tough. But even on my worse, yes-I-will-have-that-third-of-wine-stressed days, never has it occurred to me to just, oh, say, leave my child in a crib, cover said crib with a piece of plywood and then neglect to feed or change her diapers for a week. Nope. Hasn’t yet occurred to me that this might be the answer to any behavior problems, while also giving me some moments of down time (Do the parenting books recommend that sort of thing? Because I don’t remember seeing anything about using your baby’s crib as a torture chamber in Dr. Spock’s guide).

I think the toughest punishment/parental-dealing tactic doled out in this household is the ‘extreme time out.’ No, not one minute for each year of age as Jo Frost- AKA Super Nanny (Love her!) – recommends. Oh no, on some days we’re talking 20 minutes, folks (and if you open that door and ask to come out one more time I WILL add another ten minutes on to your time!!) But my point is: We have plenty of tough days, but generally run a no-hitting (and, while we are at it, clean, feed, clothe and love our children) kind of household here.

So, I know this sounds extremely naive, but I have to wonder: Why is this stuff (stuff being mind-blowingly horrible child abuse and neglect) happening? It’s 2011 and there is no reason why people who don’t want, and can’t handle, children need to have them. For starters, there is no shortage of birth control (pill? condoms? IUD? step right up and name your pleasure )and for those who, for religious reasons (of course*) cannot use birth control, and are opposed to termination, there is adoption. Thousands of families are clamoring out there for a baby to whom they are more than happy to give a fantastic, loving home.

I realize I have just broad brushed the behemoth issues of both unplanned pregnancy and abusive parents, but that’s the first question that always comes into my mind when I read these stomach-turningly awful stories of child abuse and neglect. Why? In many cases, there is mental illness there, sure. But in a lot of these stories, we hear about abusive, neglectful parents who are too busy with addictions, substance abuse problems and other nefarious activities to treat their children right and give them the love they need and deserve. So why do they have them in the first place? Why do they CHOOSE to keep the child and provide it with a life of hell rather than explore the option of giving it up for what will likely be a more enjoyable life?

Why is this such a difficult issue to solve? At least here, in the United States, why? We seem to have no shortage of birth control options, support services for parents, and families dying to give unwanted babies a good home. So why is this BS in the headlines every day?

*That some would be my husband
*Yet, some how the whole religion thing doesn’t stop you from having sex

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