Child Neglect, Forgetfulness, or a Shift in Priorities?

Fall is almost here and I want to touch on a subject that I have been stewing over for most of the Summer. I’ve hemmed and hawed over doing an entry about this controversial subject because children are a subject that I get incredibly fired up about and I have a tendency to rant (and you guys hear me rant enough about animals on here already).  But — I decided to just jump in and the Devil be damned.

We’ve all had one of those days where we leave the house in a rush and forget something important. I know I’m guilty of it. Phone, keys, wallet, and the like; some little bauble that can have a major influence on how the rest of the day goes. Pretty understandable, right? Normally it only takes five or ten minutes before we notice it’s not there. We get busy, our minds get filled up with all sorts of tasks that we try to organize in our brains as we’re moving through our daily routine. It seems understandable and totally forgivable if someone arrives at lunch and says, “Oh shoot, do you mind spotting me? I forgot my cash.”

Babies, on the other hand, specifically a baby that belongs to you, I have trouble believing as one of these forgettable items on par with say…your Subway frequent buyer card. Yet, it happens. It’s actually quite shocking, but the number of babies forgotten by their parents in cars and dying from hyperthermia (extreme heat) is on the rise. Don’t believe me? Don’t believe that a mom or a dad absent-mindedly forgets that junior was in the back seat and left to bake for 10 hours happens? Just read the paper. It’s happening more and more lately.  There were several cases throughout the summer (another one just last week), and a while back, The Washington Post had a morbidly disheartening piece about this trending phenomenon.

Read it and weep. Literally. Then read it again, and if you’re like me, you’ll probably get a sense of anger, confusion, disbelief, and outright awe swirling around in your head as you try to find a way to rationalize such a horrendous (and apparently growing) act of memory lapse.

Humans are imperfect machines. This I know. Yes, mistakes do happen. But I just can’t wrap my head around a mistake of this magnitude. I forget my phone. I forget my umbrella. I forget my dentist appointments. Hell, I forget sooo many things. Admittedly my brain is a sieve. But I can’t think of a single distraction that is large enough to push out the regular mental check-ins I conduct on my own children. And the idea that I could forget them while they’re actually in my presence?  Uh, No.

I read an article recently that said there is an up and coming disorder called “forgotten baby syndrome.” Yes, the occurrences are so frequent now, certain media pundits and so-called parenting experts have given the “condition” a name. It’s certainly not what I’d call it. But I digress. Anyway, it’s specifically when people forget they have children. The article listed all kinds of reasons why people may forget their children — most were to do with work, mentally reminding oneself of chores such as picking up the dry-cleaning, thinking through the day, etc.  It suggested that you put your shoe, your lap-top, or your office keys with your child so that when you remembered that item, you’d retrieve it, and voilà there would be your child as well. So. You’ll remember your laptop before you remember your child. Hmmm.

The scary thought is, is this where our society is heading? Are conference calls getting top priority? Is the dry-cleaning really more important than the baby? Is Siri becoming more loved than little Susie? Is life really so hectic and our attention spans fragmented into such short spurts of linear thought that without an Outlook reminder to help us, we’re in danger of forgetting the existence of our children?

Have we become so selfish in our lifestyles that our priorities are no longer found in the car seat? I’m sorry, but in my opinion, kids are simply too important to forget; if you do get so distracted that you can’t remember you have a child, maybe, just maybe you shouldn’t have one.

9 thoughts on “Child Neglect, Forgetfulness, or a Shift in Priorities?

  1. Well said. I can’t for the life of me rationize this as a disorder never mind that someone forgets they have a kid …their kid in the car with them. What’s next a husband or a wife will forget they are married and have an affair based on that? This is not a disorder and for those so called experts that feel like it is, well it is an insult to those who truly have a disorder like bipolar. Sadly we as a society are slowly becoming a society for lack of accountibility.

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