Typically, I'm the first to say we moms need to stop judging each other, but some cases are just so egregious, we really can't help it. Moms who abuse or kill their children are generally not the most sympathetic characters, though there are extenuating circumstances (think Andrea Yates) when you factor in postpartum depression or psychosis.
And then there is a Mississippi mom like Terrie Robinson who took her 3-year-old son -- who was either sleeping or already hurt, it's unclear -- and put him in the oven. Police say the boy, Tristan, was found charred and still “warm to the touch” when they recovered his body.
Robinson's twin sister, Sherrie Robinson, was quoted telling WXTV:
She was a great parent, a good person. We don’t know what’s wrong ... If you don't know her, don't criticize her.
Right. Because we live in a world where moms who don't want to breastfeed are taken to task and moms like Rahna Reiko Rizzuto are scorned and mocked for being open about not wanting to have been a mom, but still doing their best. And we aren't supposed to judge this lady?
Sometimes it feels like the world has gone insane with judgement. We are all busy arguing over co-sleeping and formula versus breastfeeding while there are mothers out there putting THEIR CHILDREN INTO OVENS. I think most of us can agree that we want the best for our children. Even if we disagree with our methods of getting there.
This notion that there is one right way to parent is as out to lunch as the idea that we wouldn't judge a mom who put her sleeping child into an oven. That is to say, there are many different kinds of good moms and even if you have a PhD in parenting (which, by the way, doesn't exist), you still don't automatically become a parenting expert in another person's children.
But yes, I judge a mom who physically or verbally abuses her child. I judge a mom who puts her child into the oven. Because if things were really that bad, there were outlets, places she could have turned to first before resorting to such a hideous act. Sometimes the best thing we can do as parents is admit we are failing, that we don't have all the answers, and that we need help.
I judge a mom who can't ask for help and who lets it get to that point. To Robinson's sister, I might pose the question: If putting one's child in the oven doesn't make a "bad mom," then what does?
Yes, I judge her. And yes, I hope she is punished for what she did. If she needs help, I hope she gets it. But she was still a very, very bad mom. And her poor little boy paid the price.
It's unbelievably wrong and sad.
Do you judge a mom like this?
Image via mrbill/Flickr