Life's Tool Box – A Guide for Parents and Educators

July 8, 2011

Excuses, Excuses. Casey Anthony, The Phoebe Prince Case and Parenting with Blinders

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Life's Toolbox @ 12:41 pm
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“I went out of my way to help a friend”. “I want people to stop judging me and leave me alone”

Sharon Velazquesz, one of the Massachusetts teens accused in the bullying that resulted in Phoebe Prince’s suicide,  says she wants all the picking on her to stop, she wants to just go to school and not be followed by the past.  She says if she had known how terrible Phoebe Prince felt, she would have done something to help her.  Her mother, participating in the interview on the Today show said it was very hard to sit in the back of the courtroom and hear things said about her daughter that she cannot believe are true since she knows “that isn’t the child I raised”.

In another courtroom recently, perhaps America’s most infamous mom was acquitted of all charges in the murder of her toddler daughter.  I did not follow the Casey Anthony case closely enough to profess to understand or question the verdict.  But a mother of a toddler missing for weeks who does not file a missing persons report and spends her nights partying seems to me the epitome of a neglectful parent.

These two moms, juxtaposed on today’s morning news are seemingly opposites, but share the same deadly handicap.  Mothering is very difficult – but it is impossible to raise children safely if you do it with blinders on.  Casey Anthony may or may not have killed her daughter, but she certainly turned a blind eye to her plight when she was missing.  Sharon Velazquez’s mother’s blinders may not have harmed her daughter, but another Mom will be forever mourning the loss of a promising life.

I work with bullies, victims, special needs students, educators and administrators on a regular basis.  I am no stranger to excuse making.  Adolescents are amazing at it – “I didn’t mean to hurt her”,  “He laughed, I thought he like when I called him that”.  Just as Sharon Velazquez appears immune to the irony that her pleas to be left alone are identical to what Phoebe Prince must have thought and said, teens seem able to present, and actually believe their innocence even when common sense says different.    Adolescents have a still developing brain and primitive moral compass.  Moms and
parents, on the other hand, have no excuse for excuses.

A petition is circulating in Florida to create Kaylee’s law that will require parents of missing children to notify the authorities within a reasonable amount of time.   If a parent needs this law to keep their eyes on their children’s whereabouts, they are a pretty poor parent to begin with.
Similarly, laws are on the books in several states that hold parents responsible for  teen behavior – such as drinking and driving.  Again, if a parent
does this because it’s the law, not realizing that on-going supervision, moral education and intense involvement in children’s lives at all ages is critical,
then the battle is lost.

It is hard to be an open-eyed parent.   Who wants to believe their child is capable of bad or evil behavior.  Who can stand to watch the suffering of their
own child?  It is so much easier to believe everything is ok, my child is wonderful.  It takes so much courage and strength to look at the good and bad, the positives and the dangers in our children and our lives.  Only with that clear and honest vision  can we be the grown-ups our children need to become healthy grown-ups themselves.

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