Monday, October 26, 2009

Brought to You by the Trolls of the World

Two and a half years ago my nephew Alex who was autistic ran away from his home and drowned in a lake in his neighborhood. I've mentioned in two different posts that he passed away but I didn't really talk about it out of respect to my sister, Carinne, and her family's privacy.

But I'm afraid my wanting to spare her further pain wasn't shared by everyone here in our little community--the local media covered the tragedy by leaving out important facts and then using words which hinted at parental negligence. They even went so far as to say that police were investigating and were thinking of pressing charges--none of it true.

Of course those of us who knew the family were shocked. The news didn't mention that he was severely autistic and generally incapable of communication, that he was a very strong and large seven year old boy who was attracted to water and repeatedly escaped from his house so he wore an electronic monitoring bracelet because of his parents' fears of just such an event occurring. Anyone who knew them knew of their love and care, it was an accident and the family deserved compassion and comfort but instead they were being accused of being bad parents.

No one from the media made any attempt to find out their story, reports kept being broadcast that hinted that there was some kind of a police investigation going on. Of course it was all untrue, it was just a high-tech rumor mill, but then the letters to the editor started coming. People who had heard the news reports made assumptions and judgments then began making accusations. A few wrote scathing letters demanding that the police press charges and saying horrible things which we desperately tried to keep from my sister and her family while they were planning for Alex's funeral.

It was bad enough that the newspaper printed these inflammatory letters in an effort to sell papers (which is one of the main reasons I cannot tolerate the Anchorage Daily News and will hold a vicious grudge against them until the day I die) but we were completely shocked that people in our community would say such horrid things and jump to such conclusions without giving another human being the benefit of the doubt.

I've seen this happen a couple of times to other unfortunate families, my sister's situation wasn't an isolated case. A single African American mother who worked full time reported her two sons missing. People thought they knew all about her, some started pointing fingers, making suggestions about what had happened until the two little boys were found in a nearby pond and it was determined it had all been an accident. About the same time Alex died a single father dropped his teenage daughter off at a party where she was shot and killed. Again, letters to the editor came out condemning this man for his bad parenting and holding him responsible for what had happened to his daughter.

I've been thinking about these things after the post I wrote last Monday. I had worried that writing about my son and our worries was a little too personal but then I thought that it might be a good thing to share if it helped others going through the same thing and to let people know we're certainly not perfect over here and I have all sorts of struggles. So I published and held my breath and I was touched by how kind the responses were.

But then I got a comment that was like a sock in the gut. Instead of merely disagreeing with my points on parenting an anonymous commenter attacked my son and then us as parents. At first I let the comment stand for a while out of shock and there were some of you who were very kind about supporting us (thanks Carinne for sticking up for me) but I finally decided it was better to take the post down. I didn't want my son to read what had been written about him and I decided that maybe I'd been too open with things--that by being too open I was now being punished.

Carinne and I spoke about the experience and we both wondered why people do this kind of thing? Even if people think these nasty things what propels them to put pen to paper and air their opinions to the world? I've never been attacked face-to-face so why is it that people feel free to write things that they'd never say in person?

My personal opinion is that somewhere in them is a bit of common decency that holds them back from saying things like this to someone's face but once that face-to-face contact is removed the person on the other end is just an anonymous, amorphous entity without feelings and suddenly they're free to take their best shot. It's like being in a car, separated from the other cars you are free to say things to the other drivers you'd never say to them if they were standing in front of you though even that bit of social courtesy is being eroded as well.

Of course I still think there's a bit of something there that tells them that what they're doing is wrong because why else would they be so cowardly as to remain anonymous? If they thought that they were helping or serving or constructively criticizing they'd leave their name as proof but none of them ever do. They leave the note and slink away, finding satisfaction in throwing the rock then hiding like some truant schoolchild.

What is wrong with people that they can't feel sympathy for another person, especially one who is struggling with a child or who has lost a child? Are they so scared that something might happen to their own children that they search around for ways to show how the other parents did something wrong that caused events to turn out badly? Maybe they think that if they can find a reason why another mother messed up, that it's somehow her fault, then it can't happen to them.

I've had plenty of nasty comments here over the years and each one kind of shocks me. Being judgmental and critical may be a natural human trait but how did we come so far as to lose that little voice inside that says, "Keep your feelings to yourself. Not only is that other person a human being with feelings who deserves compassion but it's wrong to say hurtful things. It doesn't matter that you think you're right."

Well whatever prompts these people to act that way, the problem is just getting worse. There are so many online venues available now that trolls don't need to hide under bridges any more, they're coming out into the daylight to feed which means that it's just going to be that much more important for the rest of us to do everything we can to make sure courtesy and compassion still have a place in the world--it's going to be up to us to make the difference.

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83 comments:

Sage said...

How sad, I did read that post re: your son and the decisions you made and I was impressed at the parenting skills you demonstrated.. I am lucky in that I haven't received a negative comment, nor do I want to, but neither would I dream of leaving one on someone else's blog.. comes of being brought up with the rule that say's 'if you haven't got anything nice to say, then say nothing at all'

{{hugs}}

Shannon said...

I read that post about your son and I was so glad you gave him the opportunity to make choices about his schooling but when the choices weren't working out you stepped and were the parent. That is what being a parent is about. If we don't let children make choices and face up to the consequences how are they going to do it when they leave home?

As to judgmental trolls somehow it is becoming more and more OK to judge people without knowing the whole story. And unfortunately the trolls are coming out from under the bridge and making life miserable for the rest of us. I have been chided to my face in the grocery store for my parenting skills. I said no candy at the checkout and the kids melted down and screamed like banshees the whole time I was checking out. The woman behind me felt the need to tell me that people like me shouldn't have children. I wonder where we lost the ability to empathize with others and to reach out a helping hand instead of being so mean.

planetnomad said...

Oh Ick. I remember that post--I thought it was very thoughtful and well done and it sparked thoughts in me about my own kids and their schooling situation. I thought you handled the situation very well.

I get so tired of comments like that. I read a lot of news online, and once in a while I'll read comments and am always AMAZED at how mean-spirited and cruel people are. It's like they rejoice in the chance to be horrible. I don't get it.

And how TRULY HORRIBLE for your sister! Why would people add to the worst pain of someone's life? AUGH. I'm so sorry!

Unplanned Cooking said...

Wow, I feel for your sister. First, for such a loss, but second, not to receive the support from the community she deserves.

As for your post, I'm always amazed by the things people are slighted by. Your post showed what a great parent you.

I don't understand when parenting became a competitive sport.

Robin said...

Trolls are one of the lowest life forms on earth. It baffles me how people can be so utterly horrible. To me they are the written embodiment of that despicable group that pickets soldier's funerals and houses of worship of other religions (they targeted a Jewish student union at my alma mater this month, how I wish I could have been there to face off against them).

Mom24 said...

I think unfortunately, throughout time, there will always be people who feel better about themselves by putting others down. Then too, there's the mentality that if I just do everything "right", I'll never have any struggles with my child. Therefore, anyone whose child has any struggles has done something "wrong". It's a truly ignorant view, as many, many people know.

I didn't think there was anything wrong in your post at all. It was clear that you love your child, you've done your best for your child, you're still doing your best for your child, and you're not afraid to be the parent and make hard calls. Much to be admired there and I know your son either knows that now or will one day.

Sorry for the trolls.

chelle said...

ugh sorry your experience was tarnished by a troll. It is a hard balance sharing and learning and exposing oneself. I appreciated reading your experience.

Patricia Linehan said...

Okay, I'm going to try not to write a whole post in my comment... first your story about your nephew breaks.my.heart. Cannot even imagine the grief & pain and then having such judgement.
Second, unfortunately, there are people out there who think that they hold the world's answers and that they're doing you a favor by telling you their "answers". I have (maybe I should say had) a sister-in-law who several years ago sent an e-mail to each brother & sister-in-law in my husbands family. The e-mail did nothing but personally attack us one by one. My husband and I got the brunt of it because she went by age and he's second youngest (her husband's youngest and of course she left him out). It was like she got more fired up as she wrote. I have NEVER been so hurt as I was that day. She attacked my parenting, my personality, and my children (one of whom was a newborn at the time-- yes, she even went after him). Never been called such terrible things. Anyway, what I learned from that is that 1)she was mentally unstable, 2) she actually derrived pleasure from hurting people, 3) she was dillusional and thought everything she said was some version of the truth that everyone needed to know. She also liked to keep things anonymous (her e-mail came from a made up e-mail address)-- I guess it's easier to say hurtful things when you think no one knows where it's coming from.
Having said all that (and I now realize I have in fact written a post-- sorry), I'm sorry for the hurt that the one anonymous comment caused. I understand your decision to remove it and think that just underscores what a thoughtful parent you are.

Jolanthe said...

I'm so sorry to hear about nasty troll person...and although I didn't comment on that post, I completely understand your intentions in caring for your son and doing what YOU felt was best for him and your family.

I can never understand why people feel the need to be nasty. There's this little red 'X' up in the corner of the screen that allows you to GO AWAY. If I don't like something, I move on. Not my family. Not my decisions.

Move along little trolls.

p.s. Thanks so much for being open and honest with us all in both this post and the other one.

Anonymous said...

I also appreciate the way you share your thoughts, and find I agree with you in many areas.

It's important to remember that people like to find 'reasons' for bad things that happen, and if they can call an accident the result of bad parenting (and they themselves are not bad parents), well then it can't happen to them! That's not to say they shouldn't just keep their mouths shut...

Also remember that many people find it equally difficult to say nice things face to face. Many of the thoughtful, supportive comments are here because people could write them - that one step of removal - and the same holds true of the nasty comments.

Hilary (Adventures from 14 Maple) said...

I thought your post about your son was incredible. It takes a lot of guts to let your son make his own decisions, and then even more guts to admit that maybe it didn't turn out exactly the way you had hoped, and that parental intervention was necessary. That's parenting. It astonishes me that a person could be so disrespectful, and from what it sounds like so out-of-touch with parenting, that they wouldn't realize the basic rule of raising a child: Keep your child safe as you help them become adults. I fear that now you won't feel comfortable sharing the difficult decisions you need to make in life, which I know you're already not comfortable doing (reading your ebook now). New moms like me (a one-year-old here and another due in May/June) need to see how like-spirits have handled difficult decisions in life when it comes to our children. Please don't let one hardened coward create a personal censorship on your blog. We moms need to stick together!

Lucy said...

I feel for you. I didn't read your post Monday because my internet was down. But I get really torked when some fool comes on and makes judgement calls when it is none of his/her business. My daughter got one after she did a postabout her child licking the beaters from cookie batter. I guess that's the reason I took 'anonymous' off my own blog. Not that they still cannot make up an ID, but you know. I think you are a marvelous parent. Keep up the great work!

Lucy said...

Oh...and to Patricia: Was your SIL's name Brenda because I received a letter just like that. :)

Suburban Correspondent said...

"Maybe they think that if they can find a reason why another mother messed up, that it's somehow her fault, then it can't happen to them."

I think that is a large part of it, right there. It's human nature, unfortunately. I can't count the number of insinuations I've received about the troubles I've had with my teen daughter - they all imply that I did something wrong. And these are from friends!

The other part is the impersonality of the Internet. The Yarn Harlot has a rule that I like - picture blogging as a party in a large living room. Everyone's there. If you wouldn't say it at the party, with the person right there, don't say it in a comment.

Sorry you took some heat! And your poor sister...I always feel sick when people pile on some poor parent whose child died because he was forgotten in a hot car. Don't you think those parents are suffering enough? Don't these people realize that we are all human and imperfect, and that a tragedy could happen to any of us?

branda50 said...

Carinne I am sorry to hear of your loss and the pain you went through after....
Oh, the newspaper...We haven't had it at our house since 1989...I think if you write a letter to the editor and talk about people you should have to sign your name....My ex-husband ran for a local political office here in our little village one year and I could not believe the stories (lies) people tell just to be elected....(I know I was young and gullible)...My daughters were in high school at the time I felt so bad for them...
I called the newspaper owner/editor at home to ask him why is that in the letters to the editor you can just say what you want, make up stuff, hurt families so on and so on and then not sign your name?....He came up with some BS just like their newspaper....I canceled it the next day....

Laurie said...

Very disturbing about your sister and her family's ordeal. Lately I had to delete a few vicious, even intimidating comments in regard to the political problems here in Central America. I almost gave up blogging b/c I didn't want to have that kind of readership. Mean-spirited comments are getting worse, at least for the bloggers I know here in my region. Keep writing, ok?

Kathy G said...

I've never had a negative comment, but I keep it pretty light and fluffy on my blog :-)

I also enjoyed your post about your son. I've been through the teenage years with three boys (and came out on the other side alive!) it really struck a chord with me. Sorry you had to take it down so others won't be able to reference it in the future.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

I'm a bit behind so I didn't read that post, but I am first so sorry about what your family has had to go through. It is disgusting how un-merciful people can be, especially when someone is grieving. Like they aren't suffering enough?

I don't get the trolls- I think often (since many hide behind anonymous settings) that they are people who are unhappy with their own lives- it's ALL about THEM and nothing about you. I mostly think their only intent is to hurt or cut down so that they can feel superior or better about themselves.

But I wonder- do you think they possibly can feel better about themselves after saying such hurtful things?

I feel sorry for anyone that wastes their life living like that.

Steph

Peruby said...

Hearing about your nephew made my stomach hurt. I have a niece who is an autistic child. I see first-hand how hard it is.

I hope for every negative comment that you receive, you get a thousand positive ones, because we are out there rooting for you even if we don't say much.

Shame on those gutless trolls.

CountessLaurie said...

Thank you for this thought-provoking post. It is the second article I have read in a week that pointed to community torturing parents for what children have done or what has happened to them. It's really put things in persective for me.

I do not understand people who leave mean comments. If I disagree with something someone wrote, I would stop reading and move along. I only leave happy comments (unless the post is asking for my opinion and I happen to disagree). Yet, even of Facebook, people will comment on my status and pick fights and be all negative. It makes no sense. I often wonder if a) they have nothing better to do but share their misery or b) they make themselves feel better by putting everyone else down.

karen said...

Michelle, I am so very sorry that your family has to endure such tragedy. Losing a child is hard in any circumstance but losing a child with whom you are unable to communicate is heartbreaking. I hope the glass houses of those throwing stones at your family are strong...it seems to me that the people inside them are pitifully weak.

Suzi Dow said...

The trolls I've met would *never* do these things. What you are dealing with are what my children would call "Bottom feeding pond scum"! And they are a minority which can not stand the light. Don't be discouraged for there are more of us than them!!!

Be the good person you are and we'll always be here to support you. Imagine having to deal with all this stuff without friends.

My deepest condolences for your sister's loss.

Mrs. Ohtobe said...

Hugs - I don't know if it is something in the water or what but I have had to put comment mod on and I only get like two hits a day. I think the bad economy is bringing the crack pots out to comment - but that is zero excuse. You are doing a fine job all the way around!

Jill in MA said...

I had read your post about your son and was awed by you and your ability to put your story out there for the rest of us to learn from. I was *shocked* when I read the post from your anonymous poster.

I am again awed by you and your handling of the situation. This post is so well-written and true. Everyone needs to be aware that the media does little to no fact checking. I've seen articles written about things of which I know, and even when they're innocuous, informational articles, they tend to get a lot of details wrong. I cannot stress this enough: take everything you read with a grain of salt -- just because someone publishes something does not make it true.

Again, thank you for sharing. You continue to inspire me.

Lis Garrett said...

First of all, I'm so sorry about the loss of your nephew. In the neighborhood where I grew up, there was a severely autistic boy who had a tendency to wander. You can't be tethered to your child 100% of the day, and horrible accidents happen to even the nicest, most attentive parents.

Also, I read the post about your son and the decision you all made, and I can't think of anything you wrote that would make another person feel he or she needed to attack you. Crazy!

The trolls are out there, and they're bad. I sometimes think people leave negative comments just for the heck of it.

Trixie said...

Oh goodness, I am so sorry for all of this. The loss of your nephew, the insensitive rude jerks.

How often people forget there are real, living, breathing people with feelings on the other side of the screen.

My best to you.

Trixie

patty w said...

{{{{HUGS}}} to your sister and her family..my heart breaks for them!

Some people just have a mean streak and want to feel superior, like they know it all and what better way to do it than anonymously ! Cowards.

fruitfulwords said...

Michelle,
I'm sorry for the loss and pain you and your family have gone through.
I have been impressed by your integrity and honesty.
I know nothing can take away the sting of jugmentalism, but I hope these comments help ease the pain a bit.
BTW I turned off my commnents because of troll activity and I only got a few visitors.

Carolyn said...

I'm so sorry what you and your sister have had to deal with. We, too, have had to deal with the loss of a son and it is so hard to just go through it, without any of the hurtful remarks. Thanks for your honesty.

Dave Thurston said...

I'm glad and grateful for your post from last week - it is always good to know that the boats that we're all in are always the same . . . with slightly different names.

I also appreciate that your blog allows people to vent about topics that trouble them so. Perhaps those that vent negatively are responding only instinctually. Perhaps they have not found love and compassion that so many have found in "typical" forms and are showing their love and compassion in different ways that strikes us as (well) mean.

I think that it would be such a difficult burden to carry without receipt of "typical" love and compassion.

So, makes me appreciate all of the positive input that is received and understand the negatives a little bit better.

Roo said...

Why is it that so many times comments like that are ANONYMOUS? People are so brave and offensive when they can hide behind anonymity. I'm so sorry for you family's loss and hope that although some chose to be ugly and judgemental that there was also good support from others in the community.

Annette Lyon said...

I thought your post was very thought out and well done. I obviously didn't see the troll's comment.

I've come to believe that trolls (and others like those in the paper) must not understand the hurt they're causing, because if they truly did, they wouldn't do it. At least, I that's what I cling to--that people aren't that slimy inside.

Janelle said...

People suck.

Check that. Trolling people suck. All the people who have commented on here so far don't suck.

Michemily said...

I'm sorry about the negative comments you've gotten. Don't let them get you down. I've always been impressed by your parenting, and as long as you know that it's good between you and the Lord and your children, nothing else matters.

Peggy said...

If ever I start to feel judy about someone else and their choices in life (which I have never felt while reading your blog) I quietly sing the words of Bob Marley . . . Judge not until you judge yourself . . . Bob helps me get over being judgy and get on with focusing on how to manage my own life.

a Tonggu Momma said...

First, my condolences on the loss of your nephew. There is no greater pain than the loss of a child.

Second, I read your post last week, but was on a blog break and therefore not commenting. I think parents today often fall into two camps: 1) those who hold too tightly and fail to allow their children to gain experience in making decisions and 2) those who hold too loosely and fail to step in when changes must be made. I felt you navigated between them very nicely.

As for trolls, I've only had one or two experiences with them. And truly? They seem like people who never graduated from junior high. Your son will move on from this stage... they probably never will.

Headless Mom said...

Mean people suck. I'm sorry you had to take down a great post, but I understand. I had even emailed it to another blogger who is having school problems with her son. Your family comes first.

Hugs to you and your family. What an awful tragedy.

Momish said...

I have been reading about so many bloggers rightfully upset over nasty (anonymous, of course) comments. It worries me too and I can understand your pain and frustration. I hope it gives you some sense of comfort to know that the reason you cannot understand what drives a person to act in such a way is because you are nice and good and happy.

Although it is horrible and painful to read such comments, it is still far better than actually ever thinking or wanting to write such comments. There is something rotting inside those who choose to be mean to another human being.

I am so sorry for your sister's loss and pain.

The Source said...

I read that post last week, but missed the comment from the troll. I thought you made a very wise decision in moving your son out of a situation he wasn't handling well. After all, it's your job to protect him until he's old enough to handle it all on his own.

Mean-spirited people just seem to be happiest when they can hide in the shadows and spew their venom at others. I've read other bloggers lately that are spouting venom of their own... to the point that I will probably ask to be taken off of their lists. You, on the other hand, have always seemed fair and kind-hearted.

So awful that your sister had to deal with so much cruelty after her son's accident.

Nate and Stacia said...

We were still living in Anchorage when that happened to your nephew and I remember being so sick about it all and what was being said about your family.
I said it last week, but I'll say it again-the post about your son was my favorite one you've written-you're doing a great job. It never ceases to amaze me what people think they can say to criticize or disagree with someone.

Leslie said...

I'm sorry you received such a negative comment. I think people who behave this way are very, very unhappy, mostly with themselves. They could also be robots. Either way, it's sad.

Bee said...

How can people who are so mean-spirited live with themselves. It must be painful to hold venom inside just waiting for a chance to spew it at someone.

I'm so sorry that this happened to you. And to your dear sister. How awful that must have been for y'all. Especially when professionals acted irresponsibly and said all that. I think I'll hold a grudge against them, too.

More people (and I use the term loosely) should practice if you can't say something nice, keep your mouth (and fingers) shut!

Chris said...

The political climate has allowed many naysayers and whackos to slither out from under their rocks and spout their venamous and judgemental garbage....the blogs are sitting ducks because of their ability to be anonymous.
As with Laurie, I too have had my share of trolls lately, and it can be hurtful, as they seem to know just where to put the knife! I'm sorry that this had to happen to you and your family.......keep it in perspective, as you look at so many people who have commented and supported you here. I still have some faith left in my fellow man, that they out number the others..........

Alison said...

Hi Michelle,
First of all, I'm so sorry for your sister's loss and for the horrible criticism she received from all the people around who were more expert about her life than she she was.

And I'm sorry you were targeted recently, too.

I think the people who troll around the internet are the same people who in history probably would have supported the Salem Witch Trials, participated in lynch mobs, and who would have made excellent followers in Nazi Germany.

Essentially, they seem like angry people who out of fear or ignorance want the world to have absolutes--and everything has to go the way they see it. They want to be able to criticize and condemn without taking personal responsibility. In the old days, these types of people were part of anonymous, angry mobs. Now the "mobs" are virtual--but the pain and suffering they cause are the same.

Hang in there, Michelle, don't let anonymous angry people take away your voice.

HMBalison

Randy, Ally, and Wes said...

Carinne was my first off-campus apartment manager in college, and I only remember her as a wonderful mother and delightful person. I was so sad when I heard about their family's loss, and appalled to find that they had been subjected to such cruelty by the media and others.

People can be unconscionably cruel--sometimes because they believe they know better, sometimes because in their perversity they think it is funny, and sometimes I have even seen people be horrible when they honestly think they are being helpful. I am so sorry that your family has been subjected to some of that.

I am finding more and more that all we can do is parents is try our hardest with the tools we have been given, pray like crazy, and hope for the best. You are doing a great job--don't let some horrible troglodyte get you down.

Patois said...

You know my reaction when I saw that hateful comment after reading that post. I am very sorry for you, and I think you made the right call in taking the post down. (Not that you need to worry about what I think in any way, shape or form.)

Regarding your suspicion that "somewhere in them is a bit of common decency that holds them back from saying things like this to someone's face," I'm going to disagree. It's not common decency. It's chicken-shitedness (sp?) that keeps it in check. They would never dare do it to someone who could call them on it. There are bad people in the world. We run across them from time to time.

Very big hugs to you from a rabid non-hugger.

Rebecca said...

I'm sorry you lost your nephew and your sister lost her son. I found your post about your decision to move your son back to the original school helpful as a parent. My children are much younger, but I filed away your experience and intended to draw upon it if ever I faced a similar dilemma.

Chrissy Johnson said...

All of the comments on here are so lovely, and I'll sound a resounding "here, here" in support of you, your writing, your decisions, etc. etc. Please just know that love always wins. If it makes these "trolls" happy in their lives to attempt to make others' miserable...then that is their big great reward in life. Whoop ee doo to them.

Sam and Carmin said...

It's all been said, but I want to mention how grateful I am that you are willing to put examples of a real family in the public view. Media doesn't seem to do that--and all the dilemmas in cable family life are resolved in a 30 minute episode. Thank you for taking the risks, and letting us see what a healthy, functioning family looks like--with real-life struggles. And with real-life happiness.

Stephanie Frieze said...

I am so sorry for the loss of a child in your family. Losing a child is my worst nightmare and how anyone can even imagine making it worse by pointing fingers at the parents without all the facts and therefore deepen their grief is unimaginable. The anonimity of the Internet makes the trolls feel safe where they'd be reluctant to come out in the light of day. I believe that for every action there is a three-fold reaction and while it may bring scant comfort to those hurt by such actions, the trolls WILL get their own eventually.

Linda said...

So... first off - having been through a terrible loss in my own life; and having FAMILY members (his, not mine) telling me what horrible things I'm now doing with my daughter - and a phone message is almost as bad as e-mail or a letter to the editor; I can truly empathize.

Second - I was raised with the mantra: Sometimes it's better to keep your mouth shut and APPEAR a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt. It's only too bad that sometimes people let their fingers do the talking.

In the past few months, we have had well meaning friends tell me that I'm doing the wrong thing with completely pulling my 8 year old from the public school system and homeschooling her. "She's never going to be socialized..." "Don't you think you have enough things to do without worrying about teaching her???" and others. I think the whole "socialized" thing is one of the main reasons I PULLED Savannah - and if you really KNOW her, you'd understand that she is by nature a very social child. I'm not worried. And, if I didn't have enough to do, I'd be bored.

I just find it unfortunate that we live in a world where the mantra seems to be: "Everyone's entitled to my opinion" and not only that, people seem to think that theirs is the only opinion.

I thought seriously about your post about your son. I struggle with my decision to homeschool at least once a week. HOWEVER... there is NOTHING I wouldn't do for my children, and if it's the best choice for them - it's far easier to remove them from a situation that could possibly hurt them and cause greater damage than the momentary hurt of being told that you can no longer do what you wanted to do because it's hurting you.

Good for you for being a parent. I only wish more in this world would do the same.

a happy heart blog. said...

I, too, missed your post that sparked this person to say such harmful things against you. I have had a few comments over the years that make me cringe and ask, really?, why do you think this is helpful, why say something like this? In fact, I still remember them very vividly.

I can't imagine the grief your sister is still experiencing. I am completely saddened by the response of the community and can't say enough about how hard it must have been for them and all the people who have been hurt by society's inability to have compassion.

I know you have the ability to affect many people's lives. Not only through your blog, but through your community and church. I am grateful that you are brave to stand up for people and say it how it is.

poppy fields said...

I'm so so sorry about what your sister has been through. And I've seen the underside of bad reporters reporting what they want and not necessarily what is true...even for the most unimportant subject like tourism (part of my job here is to feed the newspapers with info of upcoming events...and they manage to screw that up) as a result I've become very wary about what I read and my sympathy will always go to the moms (and dads) out there.

krninco said...

I'm sorry about your nephew and the rude comment that was made on your post about your son.

I think it's basically a matter of people with low self-esteem trying to make themselves feel better by tearing others down.

They obviously didn't get that lesson about "if you can't say something nice, don't saying anything at all."

coffeemom said...

I didn't read the post last monday, unfortunately. But I understand the frustruation and fury over the comments from those who "aren't in your shoes" or, heartbreakingly, your sisters'. I don't understand completely why folks feel the need to jump to conclusions this way. I suspect it's our instant access overhyped media world we live in (more more more)...But no matter why. It's wrong.
I too have been on the end of uninformed accusations. With a large, unconvential family there are many opportunities for folks to judge. WIth transracial adoptions, special needs kids, alternate schooling choices (out of necessity and desire...depending on the kid and year)...there are all KINDS of things to judge and comment upon. And people have. And will. And it will probably always hurt.
But if I could say anything to help you feel better, not knowing precisely what the post and troll comment was about, I would say that you know this: you are the expert on your kids and your family. There is no way others can begin to guess the nuanced reasons for all the decisions you make. That's why YOU are the mom, your husband is the dad, and you guys were made to be so for these kids. ANd those who don't know or understand some of the whys......their opinions don't matter.
Best wishes. M

Kris said...

I agree wholeheartedly with you. I also cannot read ADN at all for their lack of real reporting and political bias...ADN is not real news. It's more of a tabloid in my opinion. I am so sorry that happened to your sister and then to you. Unfortunately the internet age has allowed people to lose their common decency and tact under the guise of "no one will ever know it was me". I figure it will only get worse.
K.

Robin in New Jersey said...

I am so sorry to read of your sister's lose. How very tragic and sad.

I know someone personally who was arrested for child abuse. Since I was privy to the facts, I was shocked. There was an article in the paper and so many of the facts were wrong and lies. Two weeks later all the charges were dropped. Her children are still in foster care and she is fighting the fight of her life to get them back.

Robin in New Jersey said...

Wanted to add...I don't remember the post about your son, but I am sorry you recieved nasty comments.

Jodi said...

Wow - I think you are doing things right! Some people need help!!! Don't let them bother you, but... it would tear me up inside, so it is way easier said than done. I am so sorry about the loss in your family and pray that the negative comments subside and things get better. Keep writing - I draw inspiration from your words! Thanks for sharing.

Stacy K said...

Wow. People never cease to amaze me...and not always in good ways. Hang in there!

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I missed that post, but I do believe that you're a wonderful parent, as is Andrew.

A family friend lost her son last year. The husband and son (adult son, probably in his 30s or 40s) were in the car, and probably swerved to miss a deer, and hit a tree. The husband was hospitalized, the son was killed. Neither were wearing seat belts, a fact that was mentioned in the newspaper article. Whatever you may think of people who drive without seat belts, it is cruel to say things like "Proof of Darwin's law, weeding out the dumb"...and yet, this is exactly what people wrote. I was horrified. I cannot imagine finding someone in so much pain as this family was, and kicking them in the gut. Ugh.

I'm so sorry for the loss of your nephew, and for whatever you're going through with your son as well.

Amateur Steph said...

I too can't believe the lack of courtesy often displayed by people. I think you hit the nail on the head with the fear people feel. That's no excuse for them, just a good example of why we shouldn't judge others.

Your blog is a great example of courtesy and compassion in the world. Thanks for being so classy.

ChiefFamilyOfficer said...

I was wondering what had happened to that post - I'd intended to link to it as a great example of the difficulties of parenting. I really empathized with your dilemma, and I'm sorry you had to deal with, well, such a mean person. For what it's worth, I think you're doing a great job of parenting and blogging!

Shay said...

I am sorry for all your family has had to deal with. As far as the trolls go, some people seem to have a hole in their soul with a need to make everyone feel as miserable as they do. I don't know why. ::hugs::

angie said...

I'm choked up here......what a terrible tragedy for your family to go through........for all of those families who go through that sort of thing. Compound it with the hightened emergence of trolls on line just makes me sick. I honestly think that some people just want to be mean. It has nothing to do with really feeling that way. I think in a sick way they want to sock you in the gut. And that makes me ill.

BONNIE K said...

I think there is a small group of people out there who are just plain mean. I also think there is a bigger group that is just plain judgemental. I have a special needs son who was hell to raise, and when he acted out in public, I know there were those who looked down at us, and I would so often think don't judge until you've lived this life yourself. And that experience has made me much less judgemental. And I think if I had not gone through that experience, I would be much more inclined to judge things that I had no knowledge about, so in retrospect, it was a good thing for all of us.

Carrie said...

It is absolutely ridiculous that someone would make negative comments about your parenting based on that post that you wrote - it was still in my reader feed so I went back & re-read it & there is nothing remotely controversial in there. You are totally right about the internet sometimes bringing out the worst in people.

I am so sorry for your sister's loss, also - what a devastating experience - to lose your son, and then the respect of your community on top of it, for no reason.

MommyK said...

I thought your post was fantastic, although I didn't see the troll comment. And unfortunately, that troll probably never came back to see him or herself chastized by your regular readers who actually have hearts in their chests.

I'm pretty routinely shocked at the things people will say about other people and I try to ALWAYS give people the benefit of the doubt. The only one who has the right to judge is God, the rest of us are just here to give compassion.

Kim said...

It seems to me that cowardice and bullying stem from fear and insecurity. Anonymous hit-and-run commenters are definitely cowards and bullies, and I'll bet you in "real life" they are the worst kinds of passive-aggressive people who can't handle confrontation or a healthy discussion.

You're pretty darn perceptive, there, Michelle, with your analysis of why some women offer judgment and criticism, instead of empathy and encouragement. I think you nailed it right on the head with:

"Maybe they think that if they can find a reason why another mother messed up, that it's somehow her fault, then it can't happen to them."

Fantastic post.

Daisy said...

Hugs to you - and most of all, positive comments to you and your fammily. Our situations are so different, and yet we're so much the same. Please tell your sister that I have a 17-year-old with Asperger's and a cousin (mid 40s) with severe autism, so I understand her struggles. As for the media? My husband works in TV, but fortunately, he's an engineer, not a News Weasel, as we call them.
Take care. Seriously; take care of yourself. You already take good care of others.

snarflemarfle said...

Amen!

My MIL was killed in a motorcycle accident (she was riding double with my FIL). Through some untruths printed in the newspaper (which made for a much more "let's make an example" type story), several people commented on the online version and there were people who tried to correct the information and then there were people who wrote really hurtful things. Unbelievable. It makes my heart hurt just to think about it.

MamaKas said...

I'm a diabetic mom and get judgments all the time. Even just being Alaskan, you know how most of are, adventurous, brave, and willing to try new things out even if it seems like we're making a mistake. Sometimes those "mistakes" turn into what's best for us and huge blessings. I have absolutely no idea what the blog was on our son, but I can appreciate your feelings on it. When you're in a somewhat vulnerable or open mind set and you get attacked... it's no bueno. This happened to me a lot this past week and somehow I was super shocked when I read this like, "What!? Other people get judged TOO!??? Small world!" LoL (I live in Kenai, can you tell?) I would so desperately love to meet you one day, I so look forward to your blogs.

I am truly sorry for your sisters loss and the inconsiderate people. We had a funeral this year for a family member and it is quite amazing who pulls you up in times like those and who kicks you when you're down. ADN has always been a pain in the butt :/ I'm not impressed with our local paper down here either.

Perhaps since your blog is so large with so many readers and some of them cowardly anonymous types... you can somehow use a password or a more private blog? I find this helps traffic the 5 readers that keep up with mine LOL. Ah well, love to you and your yours and keep up the great stuff. It should be ALRIGHT for you to have a personal moment every now and then and not have to always write out a killer recipe, you know? For you? :) (my current blog is kasibetty.wordpress.com)

Lori said...

Anonymity and misguided anger I'm sure were a big part of it. Hopefully you guys can find a way to take it for a grain of salt.

I'm so sorry for your loss, your whole family's.

Jane Pauline said...

Sorry about your sister's loss, no one can say enough to console a parent who has lost a child, and no one should assume they can pass judgment either.

The online forum gives people the chance to live vicariously under pseudo names, and anonymous comments...to inflict pain. It gives these horrible the brief illusion of power. they are probably pretty helpless people in reality.

Never let such negative voices get you down... you are doing a great job as a person and a mother....

And you kick ass as a blogger! So, you have my support...

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Amen!

gretchen from lifenut said...

I read the original post and thought it was Important with a capital I. The wisdom you shared could have helped so many parents in the same boat.

Then along comes a troll...

I don't blame you for taking down the post. You do have to be sensitive regarding what your son would want to share, but I think the worst thing he could have read was THAT comment.

I am so sorry to read about the loss of your nephew . It's sick when society heaps ugliness and blame on the heartbroken without bothering to seek out the full story.

Wanda said...

Oh grrrrr! That's so rotten!
I'm so sorry for you....and for your family!
I didn't read your post so I can't even imagine why someone would be rude and comment negatively.
I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!!

I've gotten a few mean comments too. It hurt! I felt hot all over and even got a little shaky.
Like I was attacked in person!
Crazy, I know.
But it really affected me like that.
I almost stopped blogging too.

AND I REMINDED MYSELF.....IT'S MY BLOG AND I CAN SAY WHATEVER I WANT!!!

Be encouraged sweet friend. You don't answer to anyone but HIM!

Stephanie said...

Agreed.

And I'm so sad to hear about your "ugly-hearted" commenter.

I sincerely hope that your message of goodwill and positivity will seep throughout the blogosphere...and into people's hearts.

stephanie@metropolitanmama.net

april said...

I read the post about your son and I admired the way you handled that situation. I'd even go as far to say I was proud of you! It's so encouraging to know there are good parents in this world like you. No one's perfect, but you have your head on straight, and many parents these days don't.

You have my support.

Amy said...

I am sorry to hear that you needed to take down the post about your son. I admire your honesty and determination to make tough but good decisions for your family. I am sorry to hear about the malicious comments but just remember all of the rest of us who love following your blog and leaving comments.

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

I can't believe Trolls visit here. You are just so - SO - sweet.

Just a sad statement about the trolls themselves, I'm afraid.

I missed last week's post, and I'm sorry someone was cruel. I am also so sorry the media has unkind to your sister and her grieving family. For shame.

(I loved the fierceness in the sentence about your grudge. You ARE sweet, but strong, and I love that about you.)

Patricia L said...

I know this is really old, but I had to come back and revisit it. I've had 2 nasty comments (with more to come, I assume) from the same person. They leave a "name" but block their profile and do not allow replies so, basically anonymous. What gets me is these are innocuous posts (one cupcakes and one on my favorite secondhand bookstore) and the comments are outrageous-- both urging me to kill myself.I'm glad you put the positive note at the end of your post because that's the reminder I needed. Thanks.

Kelly Marks said...

For some reason there are just people who need to drag others down, who need to vent their anger and frustration on others. I have seen innocent people attacked and accused, and have even been the victim myself. We can only hope that someday these awful people will get a taste of their own medicine. Do unto others is still the best rule to live by.