Autumn Pasquale, a girl who disappeared from her New Jersey home over the past weekend, was going to be a teenager in six days. Now, she may never turn 13. Authorities believe they have found the body of the pretty 12-year-old with the beautiful smile.
The body was found in a recycling container in Clayton, New Jersey. She was thrown away like she didn't have parents who were devastated and so many people who desperately wanted her back. Who could do such a thing? Just how many sick people are out there roaming the streets? First Jessica Ridegway and now this?
Is it just me or does it feel like we have been reading a lot of these kinds of stories lately? It seems like so many beautiful, smart, and happy girls who are standing on the edge of so much fun and excitement ahead are going missing or being killed by boyfriends. It's enough to make you want to lock up your kids forever.
In both the Ridgeway case and now this, these were girls who were just on the edge of extreme independence. They were allowed to walk to school or to ride their bikes around. I can remember being that age and loving that freedom.
As parents, we want so desperately to keep our children safe that sometimes we go overboard. In fact, refusing to give children their independence is not any more effective in terms of keeping them safe than letting them off the leash a little at a time.
From what I can gather, neither of these parents did anything wrong. A 10-year-old and a 12-year-old need a little independence. They need to be able to spread their wings and fly a little. Otherwise, how could they know to become adults?
Pasquale will never have that chance now. If the body is hers (and all signs point to the sad truth), then she will never turn 13. She will never get to experience all the fun and independence that come with being a teenager and eventually an adult. All of that was stolen from her and from her family.
As a mom, I will hug my babies a little tighter today and just hope that when the time comes to let them go a little, I can do so without thinking of these horrific tragedies. As parents, we have no other choice.
My heart breaks for her mother and father and all of those who love her. I can't even imagine what they must feel today.
Do you let your older kids have some freedom?