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.