After watching Teen Mom on MTV yesterday, I wanted to publish a post regarding the importance of mother’s selecting appropriate men to be around their children. On Teen Mom, a single mother named Amber kicked her baby’s father out of the house, only to allow an ex con with no job, car or money, whom she met a Wal-Mart a few weeks before, to move into her home with her 2-year-old daughter. She allows the man to baby-sit her child, change her diaper and dress her. The child appears uneasy and uninterested in the boyfriend, though Amber tries to get the child to hug and play with him. After the episode I began to ask myself why some young mother’s continue to make such horrible decisions when it comes to dating and who is around their children.
As a social worker, I see countless cases every year where a young mother left her children alone with a boyfriend and the boyfriend repeatedly physically or sexually abused her children. The children eventually report the abuse to a friend, family member or teacher, CPS is called and the children are removed from their home. As mothers, we must make our children our top priority and protect them no matter what.
I googled this topic and found an awesome article explaining why mother’s often times find themselves making bad choices when it comes to men as well as an awesome campaign and resources to prevent child abuse. Please review the excerpts I posted below and click the links to read the articles in full.
Dr. Melva Green, a clinical psychiatrist, said the issue of child abuse by a mother’s companion is striking because it points to other issues. Green reports that it’s not an issue of good mother or bad mother but an issue of mother’s being out of touch. She also adds that it’s not a race issue but more about socio-economics. In some cases moms leaving the home to provide for a child’s physical needs, can’t afford childcare, and because their busy working to make ends meet they are unable to see the potential dangers. Green explained that there is also an emotional burden on the men which doesn’t justify the abuse but might help explain the increase in violence towards children. Some men left to care for the children become upset, “resentment plays itself out, and the child is the victim.”
New York’s Administration for Children Services noticed the trend and decided to take action of their own. Late this summer they kicked off a campaign entitled, “Be Careful Who Cares For Your Child.” The campaign includes radio ads from celebrities such as Darryl McDaniels from RUN DMC. Posters are being posted on New York City subways and throughout communities all across the city.
For mothers she advices, “Read that child. If a child is not able communicate but you see that when you’re about to leave them alone, they are more clingy than usual, more restless, any thing in excess, then they might not be comfortable being left alone with that person.” Green also cautions against a rush to judgment. She says that because mothers are told to trust their instincts and some don’t, it’s easy to blame mothers for their perceived ineptness. Instead she says it’s important to remember that those mothers may have been victimized at some point in their lives thus affecting a cycle. She believes advocating self-care of mothers in which they evaluate their emotional well-being and stress levels will help them take care of themselves, and in turn their children.
When choosing a caregiver, parents should select someone who:
- Has experience caring for babies and young children
- Is patient and mature enough to care for a fussy, overexcited or crying baby
- Understands that young children must always be watched
- Will never shake, hit, yell at, make fun of, or withhold food from a child as punishment
- Does not abuse alcohol or drugs, or carry a weapon, and will not surround a child with others who may be drinking, using or selling drugs, or carrying weapons.
There are warning signs of a potentially dangerous caregiver include someone who is:
- Angry or severely impatient when children have tantrums, cry or misbehave
- Violent and/or controlling with their partners
- Physically or verbally abusive with children
- An abuser of alcohol and drugs, including marijuana
- Using prescription medications that have bad side effects or make them drowsy, or
- Not trust worthy for any reason
- The Parent Helpline at 800-342-7472 or visit www.preventchildabuseny.org
- Safe Horizon Domestic Violence Hotline 800-621-HOPE (800-621-4673), TDD (Hearing Impaired) 866-604-5350
- To Report child abuse and neglect call 800-342-3720 or 311