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When Bad Parenting Happens

Recently I wrote two different articles for Life360 about parenting and discipline. I wrote about the dad who shot his daughter’s laptop in a slightly misguided, but maybe not entirely wrong, case of extreme discipline and I wrote about some recent experiences with parents on the other side of the parenting spectrum, those who don’t seem to discipline at all. Both articles leave room for debate. After all, we do not all parent the same.

But some things, some things are simple. Some things are not up for debate. Some things you just shouldn’t do. Like forcing a nine-year-old girl to run while carrying a stack of wood for three hours as punishment for eating chocolate.

This is what a grandmother and stepmother did in Alabama to nine-year-old Savannah Hardin. Savannah collapsed from exhaustion in her yard after three hours of running around her property. By the time authorities were called to the scene, Savannah was having seizures related to dehydration. She died as a result of her injuries three days later.

Both the grandmother and stepmother are in jail and the grandmother is facing capital murder charges. The stepmother, who was 9 months pregnant at the time, went into labor while being questioned by police and gave birth the same day she was arrested.

I guess we could debate whether the grandmother deserves capital murder charges. Maybe we could debate the possibility that an underlying health issue caused Savannah to collapse, though the prosecution says that’s not the case.

But the reality is, making an adult run non-stop for three hours (an adult who is not a trained runner that is) is cruel. Let alone a little girl who snuck a piece of chocolate when she wasn’t supposed to. And let’s not forget the 10 pounds of wood she was forced to carry as well. There is no defense and no reason that would make what these women did anything but cruel.

I wish there some whimsical moral to take from this sad tale, but really, there isn’t. Just a reminder to be kind to our children, be firm, but be kind.

Tonight my kids will get a few extra hugs and a little bit of chocolate for dessert just so they know, I love them.

9 Responses to “When Bad Parenting Happens”

  1. Peter Schott

    Sad story about the little girl. I am a little reminded of the stories we hear from the foster care system and it just reminds me that you can't legislate good parenting. You just can't come up with enough laws to cover all of the things that could happen – in this case I can't imagine making a law to stop this because I'd never have seen it coming.

    Just saddened that there are parents out there who really don't understand and that children like Savannah are affected.

    As for discipline, we're strict when the situation demands (which we're also grateful that it is so rare with our kid), but our discipline tends to match the offense. Poor schoolwork caused by reading books ( !! ) results in books being withheld. Eating chocolate without permission would result in some sweet-related discipline. Natural consequences….

    Still sad that a little girl died (and more like her) due to poor parenting. 🙁

  2. Allyson Bossie

    I simply can't imagine why anyone would treat their children this way! I would go into mama bear mode if anyone treated my kids like this! There is nothing wrong with a time out, or taking away a privelidge or even work, but the work needs to be something they can do such as dishes, sweeping, etc….

  3. Azslyn

    I seen this a little while back i feel bad for the poor little girl it just shows when you push your kid too far this is the result death and serious injury i can't believe someone could do this to an innocent child, i don't care who you are never punish your children this way pick time out or take a toy away =}

  4. Tari Lawson

    This story is so sad to hear. I cannot for the life of me understand a parent, or anyone for that matter, doing such a heinous thing to a child.

  5. @poisonsix9

    It's sad to think, this must be what they, themselves endured as children. Violence begets violence. Neglect begets neglect and so on. We learn what we are taught. I am grateful for parents who knew reinforcing positive behavior would bring positive results. I pass that knowledge on to my children and hope for the best.

  6. Abby Kraynick

    Very sad… Being the mom of 2 teenagers I have learned that sometimes I need to just walk away & go into my bedroom. Walking away & taking a deep breathe helps not to do something you will regret. Raising kids is hard BUT there is NO excuse to EVER hurt a child. Walk away, take a deep breathe & think it through!

  7. talliana

    Some people just don't remember when they were kids. I enjoyed when my mom would let us get a candy after school. We were not allowed to eat sweets on the other days but once in a while we knew come one Friday after school we would be able to get something.


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