Slacker or Neglectful?

Slacker Mom or Neglectful?

On Friday I was all set to write a funny insightful post on how I, for a moment, forgot myself and thought of what a super homemaker I was being. I was, after all, sewing and baking up a storm! I totally deserved a prize. Then I remembered I was sewing for a neighbor (in exchange for amazing fabric!), and it was 7:30 at night and I was baking muffins because I forgot to make dinner–because of my sewing project! Um, not a super homemaker.
And then I burned the muffins anyway.

This seemed like a humorous way to discuss how every side of the story has a different angle: just because I see someone through the window slaving away over a hot stove to serve her angelic children a gourmet meal does not make her better than me. It just means I might not see the Legos on the floor she’s tripping over, or hear the tone of her voice as she snaps at her children to stop fighting. I don’t know the story, I can only see a glimpse.
{Oh, and I’m not a peeping tom. But if you don’t have window coverings, I’m gonna look, okay? Also, if you don’t have window coverings, get yourself some shutters from here, okay?

Like I said, I was going to post that. Then I read an interesting and disturbing post on BlogHer. A woman had CPS called on her–by a blog reader (check it out here). Natural curiosity is going to make us look at the ‘offensive post’, so here’s the link!) In case you are too lazy to link over, here’s the summary: The blogger, Brandi, received a phone call from her son’s teacher. She was changing a test score from a 60-something to a 97. When Brandi inquired as to why the score was being changed, the teacher told her that the first time Brandi’s son had taken the test, he didn’t have a calculator. Brandi was aware, as was the teacher, the calculator had been traded away for some Pokemon cards. The teacher allowed her son to retake the test with a calculator, and he received the better score. Brandi argued with the teacher, asking the score remained the same. After all, the boy knew he needed the calculator (he was twelve), and opted to trade it away. He wasn’t prepared for the test on the day the test was given, and Brandi felt like the score should remain the same. {There aren’t many second chances in adulthood, either–if you don’t have a resume with you at your interview, chances are you aren’t getting the job. Preparedness counts, and responsibility is an essential skill.}

I absolutely agree with Brandi, and would do the same for my child. However, a blog reader felt that this was neglectful parenting and called CPS. Before Brandi was even aware of the situation, her children were interviewed by the caseworker at school. The state legally had to look into any allegation of abuse, though the CPS worker admitted it wasn’t something that should have been dealt with through the state. A certain paragraph stood out to me:

I could understand if there was some indication of imminent danger or actual abuse — be it mental or physical — in that or any post. But there is nothing, NOTHING, in that post to warrant upsetting three children already under the strain of a deployed parent, deteriorating health and anxiety disorders.

Brandi goes on to explain she would never discourage someone from reporting anything that they feel is warranted. But test scores?? Wouldn’t an email, or even a hateful comment be better than dragging her innocent children through that?

~Deep breath.~

As bloggers, and mommy bloggers in particular, we bare our souls to any person who wanders onto our blogs. As a blogger who advertises herself as a “slacker,” and who happily admits to feeding her children way past dinner time and somewhat begrudgingly fesses up to my laundry issues (more on that to come), I found myself wondering if I would have Child and Family Services called on me. I think most rational people can see that the above scenario was completely bizarre, and perhaps came from someone who (for reasons we’ll never know) was looking for a reason to call CPS. But would what I call slacker parenting be considered neglectful by another?

I hope and pray not. I hope that you understand: my children are fed healthy meals and snacks each day. They are given baths, they are dressed in fairly clean clothing, taught manners, taught hygiene, spirituality and religion, they are educated in our home and at school, they have a safe home, they are supported and encouraged, they aren’t belittled or physically punished, and they are hugged and kissed and loved on daily. I may parent differently than some of you.

I may take a nap at dinner time rather than figure out the dinner battle but they get fed. I may procrastinate laundry as long as possibly, but sooner or later, it gets washed. I may yell out of anger or frustration, but I apologize with love and kindness.

It’s scary thinking that the things I write may come back in someway to haunt me. Do I censor my posts to protect my family? Or do I take the risk in the quest for putting myself out on my blog as realistically as possible? I created this blog as a sort of “antidote” to the soccer mom mentality I often find on other blogs. So many bloggers seem to be afraid to post anything that will paint them less than the perfect light. I don’t want this blog to become that. ?

What would you do? Be honest with yourself and the world, or act (write) so no one can cast stones? Do you feel that being a slacker mom is the same as being a neglectful parent? 

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7 Responses to Slacker or Neglectful?

  1. HJ says:

    I agree with Brandi. Such crap. I’ve had CPS called on me. And I completely understand why some people TOTALLY need to be called on, but for the ones of us that have it called for something SO stupid, it is ridiculous. It is not fair to put kids through the trauma if not warranted.
    As far as your posts, I say if you feel ok with them, go ahead. You are doing no different than at least 50% of the moms out there (prob more than that) – difference is – you write about it. As long as kids are healthy, clean, fed, and happy – you are good.

    • HJ – I think this is your first post on my blog! I’m quite excited. Unless there is evidence of abuse, there is little CPS can do anyway. I’ve seen first hand children who end up in foster care because of abuse, and trust me when I say it’s NOT because you think your kid deserves a lower grade. The children in foster care have truly heart breaking experiences–and there are many more children who SHOULD be in foster care but no one is brave enough to step up and do something. People need to think: is what I’m seeing a potential reason to remove a child from their home? If not, it’s doubtful CPS should be involved. (I’ll be interested to see what my sister has to say about this, as she has both done foster care and works for DCFS as a social worker.)

  2. KJL says:

    As citizens of Utah, all adults are mandated reporters. Of what we may ask? Not utilizing wonderful parenting techniques, as the mom in the story was doing. But actual reports of physical abuse or neglect, where they are NOT getting the physical care they need. Educational neglect isn’t a reason to report (which in this case was SO not happening.) If a child is unsafe, or there is reason to believe a child is unsafe, then yes, report it and let DCFS do their job from that point. I’m a therapist and have had to call DCFS MANY times in my career. I’d say most of the time a case isn’t even opened. Or if it is, it’s later closed due to lack of evidence. Which is fine with me. If the children are safe, then great. (Reporting is definitely NOT one of the fun responsibilities!)

    But Slacker Mom, you are NOT a slacker. I think it’s great to be able to let go of the less important things in life, and do the more important things, like talk to family members, spend time doing creative projects, learning and growing and helping your family to learn and grow. And of course, taking care of children’s basic needs: food, adequate clothing and shelter, and LOTS of love.

  3. Heidi says:

    I have to agree that you are not a “slacker” mom. Just the fact that you call yourself one is a cue that you aren’t. I have only read a few of your posts…but it is easy to see that you put your children first.
    I am very blessed to have a great husband and whenever I am being hard on myself, feeling guilty for “not getting it all done”, he reminds me that I can’t be neglectful if I am worried about it. People who are neglectful and selfish, don’t care or worry about the things they are doing or not doing.
    As for the blogger/CPS thing…..not a good reason to call. Why is it when there is something like that a person, a stranger, is quick to call and point fingers…and yet when there are actual problems…no one wants to involve themselves?!? We had an incident awhile back with being questioned by the police (who were called by someone) as to why I was not outside while my kiddos were riding there bikes in the street (in a residential no thru traffic neighborhood). The officer threatened CPS. I do not make it a habit to leave my children without supervision, but there are times when they need to have freedom. I check on them from time to time…they have boundaries and rules to follow. I know where there is silence…..there is trouble. I hated the fact that after that…I worried about sending them out if I couldn’t come out too. I have gradually restored my confidence in their ability to watch for cars and follow the rules, but I am still a little nervous whenever they go out, not for their safety…but for on-lookers to think that I am a neglectful parent!
    So I am sure you will continue to blog what you want….with an extra check and reading the fine lines…wondering if you should have fessed up to the truth about being a Mom: It’s HARD and we can’t be PERFECT, we make MISTAKES and sometimes our kids get hurt or sick or scared…but the important thing is..WE ARE THERE TO MAKE IT BETTER AND TRY AGAIN.

  4. HighDesertGal says:

    Being a “Slacker Mom”, which I really don’t think you are, and a neglectful parent are definitely NOT the same.
    A neglectful parent does not care. They put children in cars without car seats, don’t worry at all about nutrition, and maybe even use drugs in the home. Basic child proofing is usually ignored, etc.
    Every Mom has her own energy level which changes though out the years. Remember the constant sleep deprivation of having a newborn or an ill child?
    Deployed parents experience special challenges. It is usually the husband that is gone. At least that was the case with me. My son needed his father. It was stressful to keep everything ‘together’. Navy wives can relate when they have no idea what ocean their husband is in.
    Yes, a twelve year old has a responsibility for the tools that have been purchased for his use. He understands the consequences. I’m sure he is also required to bring notebooks and pencils to class. I don’t know what the teacher’s policy is for borrowing calculators for a test. There are children who accidentally leave them home. I also had to be aware of which children changed homes during the week and the dynamics of divorce situations. In the classes I taught I would have two or three that were “classroom” only. That being said; this young man should have to earn his next calculator.
    Some negotiations with the teacher and child needs to take place. At 12, this child is really TESTING HIS LIMITS and Mom and teacher need to have the same policies. Military families are under a lot of pressure.
    Now, 10 years after my own children have grown, and as I watch my daughter struggle, I realize that this world is a much harder place to raise children.
    Every week my husband has children that he images for child abuse. There are 4 inpatient children right now. His heart aches every time he has to call CYFD or testify in a child abuse trial. Unfortunately, CYFD has too much too do to interfere in non life threatening matters. It was definitely a waist of their time.

  5. I am loving everyone’s insightful comments! I think it boils down to understanding that everyone has their own issues and problems and to keep your nose out of it–unless there is a true issue of child endangerment. After spending the last few days thinking this over, I have decided to continue to post as I have before. If it eventual results in my fighting for my children? Then so be it. I have nothing to hide (obviously, as I POST about it all!). My oldest children WERE removed from their home (their mother’s), and have been dragged through dealing with child and family services as well as currently having a Guardian ad Litem. They are tough kids and they *know* where they are safe and protected. If someone questioned them (which is a very real possibility while dealing with custody issues), they would have no qualms in setting the record straight. This is their HOME, and they are and always will be loved and safe in this house.

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