UPDATE: An Open Letter To the Woman Who Reported Me to Child Protective Services
To the Woman Who Reported Me to Child Protective Services,
This past weekend, I was not doing great. A combination of ongoing illness, medical tests and a heaping helping of PMS had me in a foul mood. We were supposed to be attending a BBQ at a good friend’s house down the road, and in my sour mood, I was debating about whether or not to go, as I didn’t really want to be a bummer around all our friends.
In the end, it was my five year old who convinced me to go. He was so excited to see his two good friends and play with their toys and on their trampoline, and since he’d had to miss a birthday party the week before due to illness, I was loathe to make him miss it. In fact, I thought about just sending my husband with all three kids, but I realized it wasn’t really fair of me to do that. Plus, I knew that my mood was a product of hormones, so I figured some good friends, good food and good fun would actually cheer me up.
And it did.
We arrived at the party, and I immediately made my way to the newest baby in our group, picking him up and cuddling him. My kids found their friends, and ran off to play. Mark made for the queso and chicken wings, and we were all enjoying ourselves. Since I’m on some pretty hardcore medications at the moment, I had no intention of drinking, so Mark decided to have a few beers with his buddies, which left me on kid duty for the evening. But since I’m always on kid duty, I didn’t really mind too much.
Some time during the evening, a mini-beer pong set was brought out, and a couple of the guys were playing a game at the table. The kids gathered around and watched, laughing at the silly smack talk the men were using. Since it was mini beer pong, the cups were actually shot glasses, and filling them all didn’t even require a whole can of beer.
After a little while, the men finished their game, and the kids decided they wanted to play. I didn’t see the harm, as they have no idea what a “drinking game” is, and they just saw it as a fun thing to do. The first round my two older boys merely watched as two of the other kids played with apple juice in the cups. The second round, one of the dads came to ask me if it was okay for my kids to play with lemonade and Sunny Delight.
Honestly, for a moment I was torn.
My kids don’t get sugary drinks at home. Occasionally I will let them have a sip of Gatorade, and once in a great while their dad shares a bit of (un-caffeinated) root beer with them. So the idea of letting them drink lemonade or Sunny D was one I had to think about. But since it was a fun gathering, I decided to play fast and loose. I said yes.
The game took about four times as long as a normal one. The kids had no aim to speak of, and they were taking it so seriously. Each time it was their turn to drink, they were very careful not to spill and to drink the whole thing. We offered to give them half cups because even shot glass sized glasses were still pretty big for kids, but they were adamant they wanted to play it like grown-ups.
I found myself smiling as they played, and I was reminded of the famous painting of dogs playing poker. It seemed just as ridiculous. I snapped a quick photo and uploaded it to my public facebook profile. I captioned it, “My kids are beer pong champs.”
I never thought another thing of it.
Then, last night, as I recovered from some invasive medical tests I’d had done yesterday morning, I noticed that my messenger app was showing a message request. I opened it up and found this:
Immediately, I was confused. Deleted a photo? No, I hadn’t deleted anything. And what on earth possessed you to report me to the authorities? I went back to find the photo, hoping for a clue, and I saw the comment you’d left a few hours previously:
If I had seen the comment first, I’d have honestly thought you were joking. I couldn’t fathom how on earth ANYONE would have honestly believed my 3 year old and 5 year old were drinking beer. I mean, who in their right mind would actually post a photo of an illegal and immoral act like that for all the world to see? I responded to you, but you’d already blocked me. In fact, when I tried to respond to your private message, I got an error saying you weren’t accepting messages from me.
For the record, this was my response to you:
I didn’t delete anything. The photo is still there and as I responded to your comment, the kids were playing with lemonade and sunny d. I don’t know why you would imagine I would give my kids alcohol and then publicly post about it, but that isn’t something I’d ever do. I can’t stop people drinking in their own home, but I monitor my kids at all times so they are never left unattended. I’m just sad that you or anyone would report someone to the authorities without knowing anything. That’s a serious accusation to make against someone, and there are kids who are ACTUALLY in danger who they should be investigating. But I have nothing to hide, so if/when they come a-knockin,’ they’ll be able to see for themselves that there is nothing to worry about.
As a blogger, I realize I have a lot of eyes on me. The majority of them are kind, sweet and wonderful people who are supportive and generous, offering kindness, positivity and sympathy if it’s warranted. There are a few nasty people out there who are just waiting for me to screw up in some way so they can run back to their forums and talk about what a crazy, psychotic lunatic I am. But I don’t think you are either of these things.
I don’t know how you found me or why you were looking at my profile. Maybe you are a reader of my blog, or maybe you just stumbled across it somehow. Maybe you have some trauma in your own past that makes you overreact to anything you perceive as child neglect, or maybe you are just the kind of person who gets off on judging others. Maybe you genuinely think my kids need rescuing from my sinful ways.
I don’t know you or your story. All I can tell you is that you should not judge a person by one candid photo. You shouldn’t really judge a person at all! Especially one you don’t know. There are children in this world who are being neglected and abused. I’ve read the news stories of kids being force fed alcohol or given cigarettes to smoke. I’ve seen videos of babies born hooked on drugs. I’ve seen the photo of the toddler being held down and tattooed against his will. I’ve seen the sick folk in this world who like to hurt kids or allow kids to be put in situations that are not in their best interests.
So I get it. It’s easy to think the worst.
But maybe the next time you see a photo you think is wrong, try reaching out to the person and offering some compassion or understanding. If you feel you are in need of an explanation, ask for one – though no one is under any obligation to provide it. It would have been so easy for you to send me a message saying, “Hey. I saw the photo of your kids playing beer pong. It’s not sitting right with me, and I’m worried.” Believe me, you would be able to tell the parents with something to hide, as their response isn’t likely to be kind or accommodating.
At the end of the day, I find myself remembering that I need to be careful about what I post online. Though neither I nor my kids were doing anything wrong here, I’ve left myself open to people misinterpreting our photo, and that is on me. I didn’t think it would have been necessary to explain what was in the cups because I trusted that those who know me at all would never in a million years think I would give my kids something that could hurt them.
But you don’t know me. And you probably never will. If this should make its way back to you, I can only hope you will remember that your accusations have an impact. I thank you for looking out for my kids. I want the whole world to look out for them. But in this case, you were wrong, and that just plain sucks.
Yours in the spirit of motherhood,
I’ve been given a TON of support from almost everyone for sharing this post, and I greatly appreciate it. I’ve had my share of negativity in the form of comments, emails and private messages, and I’ve been able to ignore it because I know that these people don’t know anything about me and are reacting to something inside of themselves.
However, this morning when I woke up after a VERY bad night sleep (Chester was up from 2 AM, and the two older boys wouldn’t leave my bed), the first thing I saw was a private message from the original poster. She accused me of sicking my “evil minions” on her and said that she had proof that I was giving her name out (I haven’t) and telling people to harass her (I never would). Honestly, I take these sorts of things with a grain of salt, but I did want to share the exchange with you all because it is a good reminder for ALL of us to be careful what you put out there. This woman commented on one of my PUBLIC posts with her REAL facebook account. By doing so, she opened herself up for ANYONE to view her profile and/or contact her in whatever way her privacy settings allow. I can’t control that.
However, if anyone who has read this and thinks that they are doing me a favor by attacking her, I would ask that you please stop. I did not include her name in this post because I wanted to take the high road, and I hoped she would learn something. Instead, she has shown even worse behavior in the way she has dealt with her communications with me. Here is our full conversation.
Please note that I was severely sleep deprived, and it took a lot for me not to stoop to her level. I don’t know if I handled it as well as I could have, but I know I could have said a lot worse.
So there you have it. I don’t think I’d be overreaching to say the girl is not alright in the head. I gave her the benefit of the doubt before, but I’ve now had to block her from my facebook because I find her behavior totally ridiculous. However, I still want to make it clear that if anyone has taken it upon themselves to message her, I would appreciate it if you would stop. It doesn’t help the situation.
Thank you all for your amazing comments and support over the last week. And to answer another question – no I have not been contacted by CPS as of yet. I don’t know if the original threat was an idle one or if CPS didn’t judge it serious, but either way I am grateful not to have to have dealt with them.
To be fair, there *are* beer cans in the pic and the liquid in the cups looks like beer. But even so I wouldn’t have jumped to conclusions about it. I might have a minute of hesitation, but then I’d think “no way she’s post it on Facebook if it was actually beer.” If I was a friend, I might pm you and say you might want to clarify the photo. But otherwise I’d mind my own business. No way would I call dcfs without more than a photograph to go on. Ugh. Stay strong. You are clearly a good mama and anyone could see that.
What a C U Next Tuesday! People need to remember that only God can judge. If your kids WERE drinking beer they’d look a lot worse than they do in this photo. PLUS – the liquid in the cup on their side is dark brown – a soda I would think, not beer!
Seriously who is she to judge??? We have mini beer pong sets in the kids area of the bowling alley!!! It’s not a big deal at ALL!
I’m in the camp that thinks you’re a psycho looney liar, but I can’t actually fault you for this. My kids play this game all the time. But you’re lying if you say that is sunny d or lemonade. The color is all wrong. So if you’re lying my question is why?
Apple juice. She said quite clearly that the boys were drinking apple juice before the Sunny D came into play.
If you read her post in its entirety she says that they started with apple juice. Clearly that is what is in the cup. duh!
People suck. Big hugs.
I don’t know you as a mom, but I am damn sure that person doesn’t either. Maybe asking “is that really beer?” Or something less mean and threatening. Not everyone agrees with parenting choices, but we do what we think is right. Good for you for sticking up for yourself and NOT taking the pic down.
Unfortunately when we decide to put our life online, people think it’s their business to butt in. Good on you for clarifying.
Seriously. First of all what kid is going to drink beer, kids are picky and beer tastes gross. Second who as a kid hasn’t been around alcohol? It’s more likely that her kids will turn into drinkers as a result of her obvious over the top nonsense than yours will from being around some beer at a BBQ. I just read an article in Parents magazine about how these busy bodies are making raising kids really hard and not only traumatic for the parents but for the kids. Hang in there, hugs.
OMG What is wrong with this world that a person’s first reaction isn’t to ask a question but to CALL THE COPS? I hope and pray that if CPS comes knocking they’ll send someone with half a clue and clear you right away. This is disgusting.
This is just the beginning as there are entities pushing for neighborhood “spies” over water usage, flag flying, medical issues, etc just to name a few I have come across as of late…when I was young, it was a SHAME to mind someone else’s business, those who did were ostracized as “busybuddies”…the saying, “You mind your own business and we will mind ours” kept things in check & perspective…ethics have changed quickly due to an agenda we think does not exist in America but is rapidly rearing its ugly head…
I don’t agree with her reporting you, but I will say even though I DO have a few drinks on occasion, I have a problem with drinking games in general. It’s not something I would let my kids play even with non-alcohol beverages. m&m’s maybe if they got the ball in the cup themselves, where I think beer pong is your opponent has to drink if you get if in? I don’t want to teach them they “have” to do anything when it comes to drinking. They need to learn to be okay with saying “no” later as teens, and in college when there the the potential for getting themselves into a horrible situation.
You choose to play the game. Or not. We always played that you drink between hitting the ball, but we played with water.
They actually sell a pong game for kids- my sister in law brought it at Christmas and it was pretty fun. Lets say, even IF that was beer in the shot glasses (beer w/ no head..its way too settled to be beer, but whatever).. it still doesn’t mean they were DRINKING it. People are so stupid. CPS is a serious deal and it sucks that you have to go through that.
I don’t get why, in this day and age people feel they have a right to make a snap judgement and then post about them on social media. I had an acquaintance judge someones parking ability as not right and put that on Facebook, showing the persons full reg. I told him that it was none of my business but the post didn’t sit right with me, especially as it was his parking which was at fault. His girlfriend got involved and again I explained that it didn’t sit right with me and I would like to think that if someone had put a picture of my full reg on Facebook another good person would say “I don’t think that’s fair”. However, when I did that I stood my ground and explained my objections in a none threatening manner.
I feel the person you dealt with was probably just looking for a fight, to make a comment but not give you a chance to respond is wrong and to pass judgement without knowing all the details was just ridiculous. I do hope you haven’t taken it to heart and are ok.
I will never understand people like this. Just mind your own business. I think it’s pretty obvious that no one would ever post a photo on a social media channel that would be proof against them in a court of law. I have posts pictures on Instagram of my toddler lifting a big (empty) bottle of wine to his mouth in an attempt to drink it. We live in a time where no one can have fun or laugh as a parent any more. A friend of mine recently posted a picture of her 4 mo old sitting in her car seat with a can of Coke and a bag of chips, joking about how that’s why she’s such a big baby, and she got such nasty comments about how she is too young for chips and soda. Peoples just want to make drama out of nothing. I bet if you looked in that woman’s own life, it wouldn’t be all Leave it to Beaver.
I don’t agree with her calling anyone BUT I also don’t agree with letting them play that game. It’s tacky IMHO and I don’t think it’s cute letting them play and especially taking a picture at how serious they are about it.
As a MOM,I agree, we need to keep this stuff away from kids. Plus, booze is within reach of the kids which looks like bad parenting.
Playing drinking games in front of the kids? That’s clever…
Ok, the way she handled this was overblown and very rude. I really don’t know what I would think, seeing that, but I wouldn’t immediately call authorities. That said, hell YES people should get involved! More kids need that!! When it comes to kids–or anyone, really–if you honestly think something wrong is happening and someone is being hurt, HELP THEM! My father once got pissed that my mom didn’t mind her own business and made a long distance call. She saved a life. Yes, there are certainly times to stay away, but you can still watch, be aware, be ready to act.
Also, OF COURSE people would post incriminating photos on social media! It happens all the time!!
And thus wasting the time of the social worker to investigate this instead of actual child abuse. I’m going through the foster process right now and they have their hands full as it is without flooding them with calls from people hiding behind the anonymity online!
Just wondering if CPS actually did contact you? I’m sure they have way better things to do and you probably won’t hear a word from them.
a very excellent example on how you should always only share your kids pictures to just friends only in facebook..
I would in turn ask how to file a report against someone for filing false child abuse charges. There are laws that protect against FALSE claims and since this woman has no idea what was going on, who you were or anything like that , it’s a false claim.
This reminds me of a time when my pregnant friend took a picture of us taking tequila shots and I gave her a shot glass filled with apple juice so it looked like she was doing it with us for real. But people asked, they didn’t judge. Parenting is hard enough without the judging. And what irritates me more is parents judging parents! She had no right to call anyone. People just need to mind their own business and look in the mirror before they judge other people’s lives.
Just to throw this out there, there are certain people who are “mandatory reporters” because of their profession. I happen to be one, and the training I have received regarding this part of my role is that if abuse is suspected, even if it’s heard about second hand (not witnessed personally), I am required to report it. I have been specifically instructed that I am not to investigate myself and that any investigation should be carried out by CPS or the relevant agency if the suspected victim is not a child. If I don’t report it, I could stand to lose my license or worse. I’m not saying that’s what happened here, what this person did was, in my opinion, without class. Even if she did report you there is no reason for her to rub it in your face and act in such an immature manner. On the other hand, it seems that a simple clarification when posting the picture would have saved you some stress and heartache.
I belive you but there are beer bottles in this picture. Doesn’t look good.