by MIA FREEDMAN
UPDATE 8/8/12: The abandoned baby (original news story below) has now been removed from its parents.
This from news.com.au:
NSW Community Services Minister Pru Goward revealed the decision today.
“We have today removed a little baby that was abandoned,” Ms Goward told reporters in Sydney.
“We’ve been continually assessing that family’s capacity to care for their child for 24 hours.
“We are now satisfied that the child should be removed temporarily at least.
7/9/12: We recently ran a post by Kerri Sackville about Mummy Wars, which went gangbusters. It was read, shared and debated passionately and prolifically. In her post, Kerri argued that the media was responsible for pitting women against each other and inflaming issues around parenting and that we should all just get along.
As I wrote in response, I respectfully disagree with part of this. I don’t believe ‘Mummy Wars’ is a media concoction (although the name is and I’ll save my rant about that for another day). I believe that women have always discussed parenting issues because they are incredibly important to us.
Well, most of us.
This morning, many of us woke to hear news coverage of a couple who had left their 6 week old baby alone on a freezing street at 3am.
POLICE are questioning a man and woman after they allegedly abandoned their six-week-old baby boy on a western Sydney street for more than an hour last night.
Paramedics were called to Joseph St, Lidcombe, following reports of an infant, who was allegedly on the road about 3.15am.
The young boy was conveyed to Westmead Children’s Hospital where he was treated for exposure to the 7C temperatures outside.
Officers later interrupted a man and woman – identified as the baby’s parents – fighting nearby at Lidcombe Railway Station a short time later, police said
Witnesses said the couple didn’t appear too concerned over the welfare of the child and didn’t ask police where the baby was or if it was alright when being spoken to.
The pair were arrested and taken to Auburn Police Station where they are in police custody and assisting investigating officers with their inquiries. A NSW Police spokeswoman said the Department of Community Services would be notified of the incident.
I was incensed when I heard this report. And for all those who believe we should always hold hands with any person who calls themselves a parent and suspend judgement ‘because we don’t know all the facts’, well you may want to click away at this point.
We know enough facts to make this call: bad parents exist. And I cannot think of any plausible excuse for the actions of this couple.
‘So why are you writing about this, Mia?’ some commenters will say. ‘This is bullying’, some will say. ‘How does this help those parents?, some will say.
Well, I don’t really care about these parents. I care about the welfare of that baby (and others like him that we don’t hear about on the news) and I hope to God he is placed with a family who can meet his basic needs. Such as being tucked up safely at home in the middle of winter at 3am. A family who can shower him with love and care. A family capable of BEING parents. Good parents.
Parenting is a privilege – not an automatic right. Being able to reproduce does not automatically make you a good parent. Just ask child services about that.
I know so many people who desperately want to be parents. Gay people, people struggling with infertility, people without partners, people who can’t afford IVF, people who are separated from their children due to relationship breakdowns… it’s heart-breaking.
On occasions like today, we are reminded that biology has little bearing on your ability to be a good parent. The distress of that freezing cold newborn abandoned on a street is unimaginable.
So here’s my point. Let’s keep discussing parenthood and motherhood because they’re important topics, worthy of debate and discussion. But let’s be mindful when we throw around terms like ‘bad parent’ or, more often ‘bad mother’.
There are bad mothers and there are bad fathers too. And as a society we must acknowledge this and address it. It is not helpful or logical and it’s certainly not safe to throw out a censorious “don’t judge” when people do things that are harmful or potentially harmful to their children.
These two people – who took their six week old baby boy out in the freezing cold in the middle of the night and abandoned him in the middle of the street while they went to do God knows what at a train station – are in an entirely different league to people who choose to use formula, or a child leash, do controlled crying, opt for a caesarean and all the other parenting issues that can absurdly attract accusations of ‘bad mother’.
By all means let’s keep discussing and debating all the aspects of motherhood that divide, frustrate, outrage,delight, confuse, astonish, anguish and irritate us. By all means lets be passionate about the choices we make and our belief in them. But let’s remember what a truly bad parent looks like and never confuse that with parents who are just doing things differently to us*
Check out 10 more parenting fails that will really shock you here. Also on iVillage today: