To be honest, a lot of questions arise for me after the recent conviction of the Alberta couple who “failed to offer the necessities of life” to their son who died of meningitis. On the one hand, I do agree that they failed their son, that they should have sought medical attention a heck of a lot sooner, and that they are definitely partly responsible for the fatal outcome they experienced.
But on the other hand, I also see them as parents who were doing what they thought and felt was right. No parent – apart from the small group of seriously deranged, abusive parents out there – wills their child dead. No parent intends for anything negative to happen to their child. Especially not sickness and definitely not death.
Really, aren’t we all just doing what WE think is best, even if that is different from what someone else thinks is best?
The fact that a couple can be convicted in the death of their child makes me wonder:
- What about the parents that slowly kill their children by consistently feeding them unhealthy, fatty, sugary, processed food? What about the years they suffer from childhood obesity and diabetes (not to mention the shame and insecurity should they be teased or bullied in school because of it)? Most children go on to continue the cycle as adults, and the outlook for them, according to Statistics Canada, isn’t positive when it comes to disease and life expectancy. Didn’t they fail to offer the necessities of life (healthy nutrition)? Why aren’t they on trial?
- What about parents who smoke in the house and vehicle while their children are present? The health effects of second hand smoke are terrible, and are responsible for over 1000 infant deaths annually. Didn’t they fail to offer the necessities of life (healthy air)? Why aren’t those parents on trial?
- What about the parents of a child who takes his or her life by suicide? This is obviously a very sensitive topic to touch on, but for the sake of argument, are the parents responsible at all for the factors involved in a child who is so pained they don’t want to live? Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Canadians between the ages of 10 and 24, making it a very serious problem in our country. Which begs the question: Should parents be held responsible, because they failed to offer the necessities of life for their child to thrive? Why aren’t they on trial?
A person can argue that these cases are too different from the meningitis case to even compare. And that’s probably true. And obviously I am just pushing the envelope to make a point and open up some dialogue, even if it sounds or appears completely insensitive. These examples aren’t indicative of my own heart and opinions, but rather a way of asking “if this ___ is true, then what about this ___?”
This headline story makes me wonder: Where do we draw the line after this? Aren’t we all just doing the best we can, based on our thoughts, feelings, convictions, beliefs – even if that ended in the worst case scenario? And what about the worst-case scenarios of infants, kids, and young adults who have died in less-obvious (and perhaps slower, more painful) ways due to the choices of their parents?
Either way, as parents, we are certainly responsible. Either way, we will make mistakes or choose a way that someone doesn’t agree with. Either way, the death of a child is a tragedy, and being on trial in the wake of your grief likely makes it even harder. Either way, it’s complicated issue that will never have answers.
Those are my un-edited thoughts on the issue. What are yours?