Thursday, May 31, 2007

The McCann abduction

You may have read/seen the news about the abduction of Madeline McCann - which apparently has been given widespread attention by the media in Britain.
Articles such as this and this have drawn attention to this case in particular because it leaves room for a lot of thought and discussion at various levels. It also strikes a chord with the fear we have as mothers of such possibilities. But what I find amazing is how many articles about this story have made this an issue about working mothers vs non working mothers. It also truly was a revelation to me that there are a lot of people who do leave their very young children alone in hotel rooms while they go down to get a drink at night or like the McCanns did to get dinner. Supposedly they checked in on their children every half an hour. Every half an hour?! Things can happen in a minute. As someone who feels a pang of fear if we forget to turn the child monitor on if we are downstairs while our little child is sleeping upstairs in our bedroom I find this quite unbelievable. And I worry if I too could end up making some ridiculously stupid mistake like this. I see this as a case of poor judgment on the parents part more than anything. How can you leave three very young children alone in a locked room and go get dinner in a foreign place that too? Abductions are stuff of nightmares and to leave room for such possibilities by being out of sight and away from the children for a duration of half an hour seems so thoughtless to me. These are two educated doctors. They are intelligent people obviously...if they are capable of making such costly mistakes,it makes me worry as to where I could go wrong in my judgment. It may not be of the same sort, but one can panic and make costly errors. Makes me want to think of all possibilities - like what should be my first response in protecting my child say if there is a fire...if he is choking (a friend told me her husband was looking up the Heimlich maneuver on the web while her toddler swallowed a couple of coins - she in her state of panic just ignored him and called 911 not wanting to take any chances which is what I would have done)..if he is missing suddenly in a crowded place etc etc...
Honestly I don't understand why some cases of missing children get such high visibility. I have nothing against it - just feel bad for those that don't - I do understand not all cases can be allocated so much media coverage. But it is most of ten only the children of the rich that get so much visibility. And especially in this particular case, had it happened slightly differently - say had the kid choked while the parents were away they could be charged with neglect. At least here in the US. The People magazine article describes her as a devoted mother who cut down her work hours to spend time with her children - so obviously she does take parenting seriously but how can she and her husband do this - I just don't get it. How can they as parents leave three young children out of your sight and sound and be so far away for a considerable amount of time! Also I find it amazing that in every such case the attack (or support) focuses on the mother mainly. She is a doctor too like her husband but she is the one to scale down her work hours to raise her children well. For all the advancement and progress in women's rights it still is not an equitable distribution of responsibility between the mother and the father. The mother is expected to do more and sacrifice more and any compromise from the father is applauded greatly while automatically expected from the mother. Society is still not geared up to accept fully stay at home dads or dads who really scale down on work and income like it does for mothers. Decisions are not often made by "Who contributes more income to the household?" - even in cases where the mother earns equal or more income than the father, it is the mother who scales down on her career related goals.
The McCann case is reflective in several ways of our current society and where it stands on different issues. Cultural differences in parenting, gender roles, why rich white kids always get more attention in cases of abduction etc etc.
I always feel so sorry for the child that is abducted - it must be extremely traumatic for the child and it is the worst nightmare for a parent - to not know what is happening to the child. I sure do hope and pray they are able to find this child. And so many other missing children who have suffered this horrible fate.

11 comments:

karmickids said...

I agree completely, the onus is always on the mother, regardless though that the father is equally guilty of neglect...cmon, leaving three kids unsupervised is insane...

Poppins said...

I felt the same outrage as you did when you read this article, but I try to think from the parent's side too. Especially since they do seem to look like normal caring parents (and Drs to boot).

I remembered a time when my sis used to leave my 3 year old niece infront of the TV, lock the door and run down for 15 minutes to get groceries at the neighborhood store. She was in a foreign country with no help at all and my niece was a sensible sort who would not do anything naughty.

So, it happens. These kids were sleepeing, were supposed to be sound sleepers who never woke up etc. Plus I think the article mentions that they were sitting in line-of-sight from their holiday apt. God knows that with 3 children, they might have craved a normal night out and were in a relaxed holiday mood.

Obviously it was stupid, but I think, somewhat understandable and forgivable. They must be going through sheer hell now themselves !
Sorry. long comment.

Orchid said...

i have wondered about this too..why some cases become all the rage in the media while other's don't...atleast in the Elizabeth smart case here in the U.S, the parents had all the money and they made sure the case was kept alive through the media and in that case it helped to find her!

Also, on your previous post...I don't think this is as new as you think, the pill may be but the patch, the IUD's that suppress periods have been around for at least 3 if not more yrs and medically there is no contraindication to suppressing your period, i think ..again acceptance lies in belief and also has a cultural ring to it, western women will adopt it more easily than us

noon said...

Hi Karmickids - I wonder if that burden of responsibility on the mother will ever change...

noon said...

Poppins, I totally agree with you - they are good parents who made a stupid mistake that cost them dearly and unfortunately the child is paying the price for it. We all often take chances in small ways in the hope that things will be ok - no one thinks of the worst at all times...I am sure the McCanns are beating themselves for it. I feel extremely sorry for them - not only do they have to deal with the loss of their child they also have to deal with the scorn of millions...I would not do this exact thing but I fear such unintentional errors in parenting/judgment.

noon said...

Hi orchid,
I just don't get it - why some children get immense attention while others and far worse cases barely get a mention.
About the pill Lybrel - it is the same concept as other contraceptive pills - but the difference here is that it does not have the seven placebo pills that others do...the placebo pills in the others allows for withdrawal bleeding - menstruation. Lybrel has a lower dose of hormones that can be taken every single day of the year and it is the only such pill that has been tested and approved by the FDA - even if it doesn't mean anything in reality in terms of risks.

Collection Of Stars said...

Same fear here. I keep checking on my daughter every 5 minutes when she is asleep. When she is at the park with the nurse, my mom stands in the balcony and never lets them out of sight. I cannot imagine leaving my daughter alone in a hotel room in a foreign country. I just hope I am careful at all times and nothing ever goes wrong...touchwood!

Happy Kitten said...

Yea.. even I cannnot leave my eyes off my kids when they are in public places.. nd even now when they are old enough. Times are different now parents have to be more careful with their wards. Sometimes I think I am a little too fussy.. but better be fussy than regret.
http://under-the-tree-of-tranquility.blogspot.com/

noon said...

Hi Collection of stars and Happy Kitten,
Thanks for visiting. Yeah I feel the same way - god please let not anything go wrong - because if not this we are also capable of some other unintended errors - most times people get away with such things - but when such things happen like it did for the McCanns it makes you so paranoid...

Rohini said...

I don't think I would be comfortable leaving Ayaan unsupervised till he is much older.

I can completely understand the parents need to get away for a dinner but most hotels do offer babysittting services at aprice and these guys do seem pretty well off.

When we went with Ayaan, we were lucky to get a room very close to the restaurant so the baby monitor still worked and we could get a break while still in hearing distance...

Just like that said...

I keep wondering if my maid is keeping a close eye on him when she takes him out to the park or out anywhere in the evenings before we reach back home...

my heart goes out to those parents- what hell they must be going through now.. what agonies of guilt, of if onlys...

One wrong decision in a misguided minute leads to a lifetime of pain, the poor poor Mom and Dad!

And as for the baby, from being a pretty cossetted baby of two Dr parents to god-knows-what...! Terrible fate indeed!