I don’t usually talk about news stories. But there’s one I’ve followed and it’s on my mind. Caylee Anthony was a little girl who one day went missing. I know that happens way to often in our world but she went missing and for thirty one days no one reported her gone. I’ll give a tiny bit of credit to her grandparents and uncle and say they may not have known she was truely gone but her mother knew and in the time this tiny life was missing, her mother went out, slept over at her boyfriend’s, got a tattoo, and broke a few laws along the way. Why this one little girl caught my attention is simple, when she went missing and was finally reported missing, I was starting to count down to the birth of my granddaughter. So my heart broke for the grandparents. Them losing something that I didn’t even understand having yet.
But as I’ve followed this case it’s confused me. Made me ask some questions of myself.
Do I love my children enough to lie for them or do I love them so much that I wouldn’t?
I think it’s harder to love them so much you won’t cover for them or lie for them.
It’s easy for me to sit here smug, looking into someone esle’s disfunction. I can pick apart the pieces of their lives and then tell them I would never or could never…
I don’t think the Anthonys set out to create a monster, I don’t think they understand now how it happened. But what they did do is forget the boundries between child and parent. They forgot that sometimes we have to let our children face what they’ve done and we have to do it from the begining. When you never hold your children responsible for their words and their actions and when you cover for them or clean up their messes time after time, you don’t teach them you love them or how to be adults.
When you do those things, you let them grow up thinking they can do whatever they want and they don’t understand how to think of others, not even when “others” are a tiny two year old child.
I don’t think the Anthonys saw anything wrong with covering Casey’s early messes. I know there were a couple times I fought with myself over excusing away my son’s behaviors. And I lost a couple of those fights too. I said “he would never” or “the teacher must just not like him” but I knew that wasn’t it and I stopped myself fast. My boys may have been my little angels but they weren’t that angelic and I knew it. It’s so easy to make excuses, to blame something for your child’s faults. The other kids were bad influences, he forgot he had that gum in his hand. She wasn’t trying to be mean, they must’ve misunderstood. Excuses are a dime a dozen and I had plenty of change to buy some but I had to make myself put that change away and let my children take the fall for what they’d done (or not done).
I wanted my sons to grow up and be men I’d want to know. To have them become people I’d want as neighbors. That’s my advice to young parents like my son. Raise your children to be people you’d want as neighbors. Tell them “no” and teach them early on to respect you and others. Punish them when they need it, hug them when they don’t know they need it. Don’t worry about being their best friend, that’s what their peers are for. Be a parent. Don’t be their overlord or their owner.
I’m not saying the Anthonys could have altered what their daughter has done. Not my place to say that but they raised a child who never grew up. She never learned “no” and she never learned bounderies. She took what she wanted be it money from her best friend, her own grandparents, or her baby daughter’s piggy bank… she lied about who she was, what she did, and who she did it with. She hurt people on “whim” she made herself more important than anyone else and they let her. Time after time her behavior screamed out for help and they made excuses and covered for her. And now, they still lie for her. They lie to the police, to the FBI, to the media, to us, and to themselves. They give their child their version of love and in return she gives them disrepect and thinly veiled hatred. The child they thought they loved so much that they fixed all her mistakes, took away something else they loved.
Look how their story is ending, a dead grandchild, an incarcerated daughter, a lifetime of hell for them. They may face charges themselves. They’ve lost their friends and their family. They’ve lost their self respect and the respect of everyone. They made this mess and they nuured what they thought was a flower but their flower turned out to be poison ivy and everything their daughter touched is now destroyed. They will never face another day without pain and tears and they will never know exactly why but I bet they l0ok back and realize the whole path could’ve veered differently had they only said “no” and meant it.
I have a granddaughter now. They do not. My son and I have discussed this case often and I must’ve done something right because he wants to be the kind of parent who raises his daughter right by saying no and not making excuses and I have no doubt that the child he and Katie raise will be the kind of person I’d like as a neighbor.
We can’t change what we see in the news. We can talk about it, like I do on IS. We can watch Nancy Grace or Geraldo although I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone watches Geraldo and I’m not allowed to watch Nancy Grace because it makes me yell at the tv. We can gossip over these people at work or at play but unless we take their lessons to heart someday we’ll be reading about another case, another family, another trgedy.
I’m a grandparent now, a role I take seriously. But I was a mother first and the hardest part of parenting is the part I’m glad I did.
If you haven’t read about Casey Anthony, please do. And if you’re the praying sort please offer up a prayer for her parents. They still don’t understand and when they do it will destroy them. They thought they loved their daughter so much that they covered for her, but they needed to love her enough to let her fall.