Why Are We Celebrating the Baltimore Riot Mom?

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A video of a mother hitting and berating her son for participating in the recent Baltimore riots has gone viral and is popping up everywhere on social media. In an article in the New York Post, this mom is referred to as ‘Mom of the Year’ and a ‘national hero.’ In reference to the incident, the Baltimore police commissioner is quoted as saying “I wish I had more parents that took charge of their kid[s] out here tonight.” Many people are applauding this mother for how she disciplined her son and labeling what she did ‘good parenting.’

My issue isn’t so much with the mother. Lord knows what I would have done in the heat of the moment if I were in a similar situation. What bothers me is mixed messages we are sending to parents. Under any other circumstances, there would be outrage against this mother and calls to have Child Protective Services get involved.

Over the last few months, there have been incidents of parents being reprimanded and arrested for making far less egregious offenses. Most recently, we saw reports about parents Danielle and Alexander Meitiv allowing their ten and six year old to walk home from a nearby park unsupervised. Local police officers noticed the unattended children and picked them up.

According to reports, the Meitivs have been warned that if they leave their children unsupervised again, they run the risk of having their children taken away. There is no indication that the Meitivs mistreated or neglected their children in any way. So why the double standard?

Then there is the case of the South Carolina mother, Debra Harrell, who was charged with unlawful conduct toward a child, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail, for allegedly leaving her 9 -year old daughter at a park while she went to work. Ms. Harrell felt her daughter was responsible enough to be on her own and believed she had proper precautions in place.

Again, outside of the isolated incident, there is no indication that Ms. Harrell’s daughter was being abused or neglected in any way. Despite this fact, the 9 year old was temporarily placed in the custody of South Carolina’s Department of Social Services. (She has since returned to her family). Why is the Baltimore mom’s parenting style applauded while Ms. Harrell’s method of parenting criminalized?

When it comes to matters involving children it all boils down to what is in the best interest of the child. It’s not about whether or not a child deserves to be smacked around for making poor choices. If we are going to call a parent out for them making a judgment call about their child’s ability to be unsupervised in their neighborhood, then we shouldn’t be celebrating another parent for slapping and berating their child in public under any circumstance.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion on where they stand when it comes to what parenting style they prefer. However, when we begin to criminalize parenting styles and threaten to take people’s children away, there needs to be a clear understanding of what is acceptable parenting in the eyes of the law.

Why do you think we are celebrating the Baltimore riot mom?

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  1. Great post! We have double standards, it seems.. and we are like sheeps – if publishers or influencers think someone is mother of a year, we all need to think that.. If they think we should judge parents that let 10 year olds alone in park, we should all judge them. Not good.

    1. It’s down right scary Marina. I’m petrified now to let my ten year old out of my sight because who knows who might see him and call the police. I remember being able to ride my bike around the block or walk to a friend’s house on my own when I was 9. I dare not allow my son to do the same.

  2. I have all kinds of ideas about this–and I hadn’t even considered the hypocrisy of the authorities. It does seem crazy that letting your child have a little freedom is criminalized while whaling on them is celebrated, doesn’t it? Honestly, I think that there is a patronizing, even racist vibe fueling the public’s response to this mom. #1 People are happy to see a “young thug” get what’s coming to him. #2 People want to believe that the complex problems in Baltimore would all just go away if there were more moms who “cared enough to discipline their kids.” #3 Apparently that means they think that the moms of all the other kids who are still out there throwing rocks DON’t care about their kids, and that this woman is exceptional. I could go on but I don’t want to overstay my welcome! But I am beyond distressed by the response to thins, even from intelligent people who I would have thought would know better.

    1. My husband and I had a conversation and we both felt there is a racist undertone to people celebrating the young “thug” being put in his place, whether it be conscious or subconscious.
      I was watching Morning Joe yesterday and the main topic was how the broken Black family is the reason why Baltimore is in crisis. They went on and on about absent fathers and lack of discipline. It was borderline ridiculous to me. Sure, family dysfunction plays a role in the multitude of problems that plague Baltimore, but that is not the only factor. Strengthening families alone will do little to address the high unemployment rates, broken education system, and the poor relationship between police and some residents in the city of Baltimore. There are so many issues fueling what we see going on in Baltimore and instead of looking for solutions we are busy attributing blame. I’m curious to see what happens when all the cameras go away and Freddy Gray’s story is no longer news.

      Leslie, you are always welcomed to stay and “chat” 🙂 It;s nice to discuss these issues with others and to hear different perspectives. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. You have an excellent point. Not saying I’m celebrating Baltimore mom, or even judging the parents who let the kids go to the park, but maybe people perceive the severity of the situations differently? Kids don’t “have to” go to the park, and it could be seen as lazy parenting to not go with them, needless endangerment. A young man putting himself in the middle of a potentially violent situation may be a different matter, in people’s minds anyway!

    1. And I can appreciate their line of thinking. I disagree, but I can see how they could get to that conclusion. However, let me take things to the extreme for a minute. Let’s say somewhere out there a child is being hit and yelled at in the same way by their parent at home. They see the Baltimore mom being applauded for doing the same thing. I wonder how that child will feel. I just want people to be responsible. I don’t think the Baltimore mom abused her son. I think adrenaline was running high and all she wanted was her son to be safe. However, it’s irresponsible to celebrate (in such a public way) HOW she handled the situation. Thanks Moni for weighing in. I appreciate it!

  4. I too felt the same exact way!!! Parenting in the U.S. is a double edge sword. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

    1. It really is. Unfortunately what happens is that many families will then enact the code of ‘whatever happens in our house stays in our house.’ Everything becomes a secret and those families who are in crisis are never identified.

  5. Great points, I have pondered the same questions you raised. I feel as though society has gotten so out of hand. In response to letting kids be out alone, many of us were raised to play outside in our neighborhoods al day. I was allowed to ride my bike to my grandmother’s at eight. Has the world changed since then, becoming more sinister? No, we are just hearing about everything now because of social media and technology.

    1. It’s so true. Depending on what statistics you look at, crime rates have decreased from 20 years ago. However, when you have social media and cable news bombarding you with all the evils in the world who wouldn’t be frightened?

  6. I totally agree with this post. I understand the intention behind the praise of the mother, she is concerned and outraged by her sons actions without her say or know so. She is aware of her son and wants him to steer clear of trouble. In an area where trouble seems to follow most young teens, this is vital to starting a change for the better. So go mom for being involved, and lord knows what I’d do if I caught my future child engaged in such atrocious behavior and acts, but to cheer for the humiliation and violence, that is not ok. Great post, and I admire your bravery in speaking on such a hot/ controversial topic.

    1. Well said. I applaud her for getting her child out of harms way, but think celebrating how she did it is a bit much. I debated about publishing this post because I knew it would strike the wrong nerve in a lot of people. J have to say most people disagree with me but have done so respectfully. Thanks for stopping by Ana!

  7. Good point, Yanique. I agree with you. It has become a society of just allowing our kids to do whatever they want for fear of being viewed as an abusive parent or out of laziness. Because of this, our youth are becoming out of control. We need more people to take a stand and do what is best for their kids. Giving them whatever they want does not create a good person. I assure you.

  8. Agreed! In the same situation, I can’t imagine what my reaction would be, but to celebrate a mom for hitting her son on national TV seems like a stretch.

  9. I applaud her for stopping her son from causing destruction, but I don’t applaud the way she handled it. I could understand her dragging him home because he seemed like he didn’t want to go willingly, but slapping him was unnecessary.

  10. Such an interesting outlook on this whole thing. It shouldn’t be acceptable to let our children get away with acting in ways like this, but at the same time, I believe that we shouldn’t judge other parent’s actions. You just never know what their life is like at the moment

  11. She is to be applauded for doing what needed to be done to keep her son safe. That is a mother’s love. Not only did he not react aggressively toward her, no one else stepped in to stop her. She went to get her son out of there, and yes, sometimes one gets so mad that a hand might get raised. She also ignored the danger she was putting herself in! She could have easily gotten hit in the head with a brick by one of her son’s “fellow protesters”, or caught up in the madness of trying to stop the attacks. I believe the only thing that would cause me to walk into such a potentially dangerous situation would be to rescue one of my children. That is what a mother does.

    I guess I was a pretty protective mom. My kids didn’t go to the park alone until they were older. My kids didn’t walk to or from school alone. When they both were in jr high, they walked together, finally without me walking with them every day. I still did some days. I enjoyed that time, and I believe they did as well. Depending on the children, and the neighborhood they live in I believe the parents are the ones who can make the most sensible decisions. I wouldn’t think twice about a 10 yr old and a six yr old sibling walking down my street. Obviously I also assume I would know them, and they would know me, and know that they could look to me if they needed anything.

    The lady who left her daughter at the park? Again. She thought it would be ok. Do I?? Maybe. Would I ever do anything similar? Nope. I guess my brain takes me to the worst case scenario, and where my kids are concerned, I am willing to do anything to avoid it.

    Wow. apparently I had something to say huh?

    1. Julie I’m over protective in the same way. It drives my 10 year old son crazy! But I would rather be safe than sorry. Some other parent would probably accuse me of being a helicopter mom standing in the way of my son learning to be independent. I can’t judge the Baltimore mom for how she reacted because if I were in her shoes, I don’t know what I would have done. However, to hear what she did being labeled as ‘Mother of the Year’ behavior is a bit much. On the one hand we are saying her son is wrong for trying to hit police and yelling at them but we are saying the solution is for the mother to yell and hit him instead? I appreciated you stopping by and taking the time to comment !

  12. I think what that mother did with her son was only admirable in the sense that she was one person in a crowd that was rioting who didn’t want to participate in the violence. It’s ironic because she was violent toward her son instead of looting or something so I agree it’s definitely a double standard. I kind of think all the things you mentioned are also bad parenting though, except maybe the kids who walked home from the park on their own – that doesn’t sound so bad unless they are super young or in a bad neighborhood. That was not so uncommon when I was a kid so it’s weird to hear about people being reprimanded for something so seemingly simple.

    The lady who left her child at the park while at work is terrible though. I understand if you can’t afford a babysitter, but for me, I don’t think it’s a matter of whether she trusts her child to be at the park alone; it’s more of a matter of someone straight up kidnapping her from the park which is a completely common occurrence.

    I really don’t understand all these riots – I understand if someone wants to protest something they don’t agree with, but looting, violence, burning your own cities to the ground – how does that incite change? It’s all so exhausting and annoying.

    Great though-provoking post as always 🙂 Thanks for sharing ♥

    Tianna | stop by and chat 🙂 http://storybookapothecary.com

    1. The riots are senseless and I will never understand the logic behind them. The young man died and none of this will bring him back. I feel for his family. So many people see Freddy Gray as a cause,but at the end of the day he is someone’s child. I don’t know how they can grieve properly with all this going on. I agree that there needs to be an investigation into his death and if the police are at fault they should be brought to justice.

      In the case of the 9 year old girl, mom brought her to work with her and the little girl got bored. The park was 9 minutes away from her job and she gave her permission to go. Poor judgment…maybe. Here’s the thing, in South Carolina there are no laws that specifically state at what age a child can be left unsupervised. So to put her in jail and place her child in the custody of social services was overkill I think.

      Thanks so much Tianna for stopping by and weighing in. I enjoyed reading the points you raised!

  13. This is an area where I have very distinct opinions. When I was growing up, my parents motto was “spare the rod, spoil the child”. Don’t get me wrong, I was spoiled, but when I was in trouble, getting a spanking was pretty much a guarantee. Guess what, I grew up normal. I don’t have any mental issues from the “abuse” of being spanked as a child. My children were disciplined the same way and they are all pretty well adjusted too.

    The problem today is that we have way to much outside interference telling us what we can and cannot do in regards to our children!!! I understand the interfence when there is abuse. I applaud that interference because children are a gift from God and do not deserve that type of treatment. That being said, they are also our responsibilty to ensure they grow up well adjusted, well behaved and productive members of our society. Time out does not work!!!! Standing in the corner does not work!!! Tried all types of alternatives with my children. Sometimes, corporal punishment is necessary. It gets their attention. It lets them know there are consequences for bad behaviors. It is called negative reinforcement and it does what it’s supposed to do if it is not abused.

    I applaud that mother and would have done the same thing in that circumstance!!!

  14. I understand your point, Yanique. I guess people are celebrating that mom because she didn’t allow her kid to be reckless and end up being locked up for disorderly conduct.

  15. I totally understand what you are saying, but in these instances with the kids being taken away, I have to side with the law. Leaving children unattended, especially now that we’re more knowledgeable about abductions, to me is irresponsible. Yes the parents of the two kids that let them walk 10 miles say they are just letting them be independent like they were when they were kids, but when they were kids the parents weren’t as knowledgeable to abductions and how bad people could really be like we are now, (they even left their doors unlocked and slept with there windows open!). I think with all the media outlets we have now, we can really see just how many bad things happen to children every day. Leaving them unattended in a park for a long period of time to me is just as irresponsible as leaving them in a running car with the windows rolled down while you go shopping at a supermarket. You are putting them in a dangerous situation since they are still not at all able to take care of themselves. Would you let your two year old play in the bath while you go make dinner because they can now give themselves a bath? No because they can drown. To me these examples are the same thing as leaving your 80 pound kids unattended and unable to protect themselves agains a 240 pound stranger. They might know 911, stranger danger and running away, but the stranger can just pick them up, throw them in a car and take off.

    I do side with the baltimore mom, however I do think they are blowing it way out of proportion. Mother of the year? Maybe not. Good parenting…yes. I do not believe in spanking, but in this case her son was doing something that could harm/kill others or worse himself. The police could have shot him for throwing that brick or he could have killed an officer and ended up in prison for life. If it was under any other circumstance, like him getting a failing grade in school or not cleaning up his room, I do believe it would be considered abuse, but to me she’s trying to teach her son a lesson about breaking the law.

    Great post! Love reading all the other thoughts on this!

  16. I think she’s being celebrated for different reasons. Some are happy that she beat her child like parents “should” do to discipline them; others are happy that she wanted her son out of a bad situation and did what she felt she had to do. Such a hard thing to think about with double standards.

  17. I completely agree. I cannot judge the mom for her actions, because really if I saw one of my children doing those things, I don’t know what I would have done! But My problem comes, like you said, there is a big discrepancy in allowable parenting behaviors. Now I cannot say I agree with all the ones you shared, but this Baltimore Mom is being portrayed as a hero, and in reality, I think we could all agree that that’s not really the case.

  18. I applaud her for being the woman in charge, but her son is def. too young to even understand the consequences of his actions and obviously still needs to be smacked around to be given some common sense.

  19. So, yeah, I’m with you on this. I feel like under different circumstances the media would have CRUCIFIED this poor mom — so it’s interesting to look at the double standard.

    Someone is always watching these days. Decisions that parents make in an instant for better or worse are put out there for everyone to judge (up to and including law enforcement/CPS). A decade or two ago, no one would have thought twice if a mom ran into a convenience store for three minutes or been concerned with an elementary-school aged child at a park.

    I don’t know what I’m saying… just yeah.

  20. Awesome point you raised! I am for the Baltimore mother because if I had a child and they were in the same situation as her, I would probably do exactly the same.
    However outside such extreme conditions, parents all over the world (not only in the US) are being judged for the slightest punishment they give to their children. Reprehending a child for a wrong deed has become a crime and I do fear what will be of these young ones being raised without knowing limits.

  21. Yanique, thanks for bringing such a good post to Fridays Blog Booster Party. I love its depth and thought provoking and stimulating of discussion.
    Like you I have no problem with what the mother did in a dangerous heated situation to protect her son. As a TV commentator observed, the boy did not turn and abuse his mother, he obviously had respect for her. He did leave with her. I also wonder where were all the other parents. So good on her bravery.

    As far as the reactions of blatant double standards it is horrific. The mother could be a hero today and painted as a villain and locked up the next, given a different scenario. I certainly do not think law makers have a right to tell parents how to bring up their own children. Let them act in cases of genuine abuse against children.

  22. I love this post, Yanique! I have been wondering the same thing. Before becoming a SAHM, I worked in social services. I have seen real abuse and neglect, and nothing get me more fired up than protecting the rights and safety of children. BUT for real? Walking home from the park is not neglect at 6 and 10. I babysat my little brothers at 10.

    And the Baltimore mom MOY sensation is crazy. To be honest, I probably would have reacted similarly in her situation, but we can’t dial 911 when we hear a mom spanking her child in a dressing room, but then praise this mother for doing it on national tv.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject. I loved reading them, and they got me riled up, again, about it all.

  23. Interesting post. I dislike the idea of anyone jumping to conclusions, assuming, or making judgements based on a short video clip of someone they don’t know and have never seen before. We really don’t know the whole back story behind these people, and these are people, who are messy, who are flawed and have pasts. I have my opinions based on what I observed, but I’m quick to realize that I don’t know this woman, her family or the whole story.

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