(By D. Hanousek)
Yesterday, a close friend pregnant with her first child posted a link on Facebook to an article about a mother who was arrested for allowing her 10-year-old to get a tattoo honoring his late brother. Said friend posed the question, "Would you let your 10-year-old son get a tattoo, for any reason? What if the tattoo is to honor the passing of his brother; is that acceptable?" I immediately felt my emotions heighten as I wrote the comment, "Er, circumcision is legal. So is piercing your infant's ears. Don't get me started..." This led me, of course, to the confession that when it comes to hot-topic children's issues, to me, ignorance is bliss.
I am a troubled sleeper mainly because I overthink when my head hits the pillow and I close my eyes. I think about worst-case scenarios involving burglars, rapists, and natural disasters. But as of late, my insomnia has taken on a more realistic tone as the words of friends and family keep swirling in my head.
Recently, not one, but two women close to me confessed that their husbands had been physically abusive to them and their children. In both cases, when I sprang to action calling domestic violence hotlines and CPS, both women reneged on their allegations, told me I was overreacting, and in one case, shunned me from her life. At night, I am so sad, trying to figure out why these women told me in the first place if they were just going to deny it in the end and deem me to be "the bad friend."
How is this related to my friend’s Facebook post? As a parent, I am sensitive to every judgment, big or small pertaining to children. My son is uncircumcised. One of the fathers mentioned above called my three-year-old son an "anteater" every time he saw him. (Abuser or not, what an asshole.) But I always kept my opinions about him circumcising his sons to myself. It just seemed like the polite thing to do.
Another father (formerly) close to my family exploded on my husband about not respecting Jewish traditions, believing that my Christian background was brainwashing my husband and my children. This isn't the case. Even though I'm an agnostic who lacks the faith required to be technically labeled a Christian, this did not keep this father from sharing his judgment. And my husband, remaining calm and polite, refrained from lashing back with arguments supporting our family's beliefs about circumcision.
Why are these parents allowed to share their opinions and judgments about my family but I am supposed to stay silent when I am informed of abuse? Should that mom have been arrested for allowing her son to get a tattoo? I don't know. Is circumcision wrong? I'll tell you what I think if you ask me in person.
Is piercing an infant's ears a selfish act performed by parents? Maybe. Is violence in the home an abominable and unacceptable disgrace? YES. Yes, it is. And while I understand the importance of an open dialogue on all of these issues, at the end of the day I would just like to close my eyes and go to sleep, ignorant of it all. But I think that's an impossible dream of mine (and most parents) as an active social networking savvy mom, news-reading citizen, and a human being with a conscience.
Abuse, judgment, and ignorance is all around us. You know this. While it would be easier to just roll over and pretend it’s not there, I have learned that, in some cases, politeness is wrong and I have to speak. Where do you draw the line? I’m still trying to figure that out. Here’s hoping for a good night’s sleep sometime in the next decade or so.