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Thursday, 07 August 2008


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I was recently in bits reading about an abuse case in America, and seeing photos of trampled children in India after the stampede at the religious festival in India earlier this week. I'm not sure if we've suddenly become more vulnerable because we see our little ones in the world and think - God. It could be them. Or if as we get older things just hurt us more. And like you I can't let these images go.

As far as how you're feeling - it's still early. Our clinic said it can take anywhere between 7 - 10 days for implantation. Hang in there.


I've often asked myself the same questions. Last week, I poured through a ridiculously long story about a case of profound neglect in Florida. You can tell the writer tried to put a somewhat positive spin on it - the ubiquitous happy ending, but it isn't really. And I'm not sure if I'm any better off for it, but I couldn't look away or stop reading it at the time. Maybe it's just human nature? Some people look at car wrecks, others look at humanity wrecks?


I never quite understand why people read those autobiogs of people who've survived neglect and abuse (A Child called It and similar). I have occasionally read them but only if they are very well written or if I want to know more about the author. I am still no nearer a conclusion. I can see why people might want to NOT read them.


The other book I started last weekend (and will also likely not finish) is a book about death and illness in the American Civil War. The author is the first woman president of H@rvard -- I went to a talk of hers a couple of months ago, so I thought I'd read her book.

But after the first chapter or two, I had similar thoughts to you -- while it's important for *someone* to realize that these events happened, and while I think it's instructive on some level (although, like you, unsure upon what level), I don't actually think I'm the person who needs to know about all of this.

I suppose the chicken/egg problem is how to sort out the news you need to know from the news you don't need to know without having a cursory knowledge of each. Because there is some information that is horrifying, but that we can do something to change (hence my ambivalence about finishing TOD).

Sorry for such a long comment! I am keeping my fingers crossed that lightning will strike twice for you. xx


A month ago here in California there was an unspeakable crime committed against a child my son's age and I foolishlessly clicked on the story on some internet news source. What I read and heard about in the ensuing days will probably haunt me for the rest of my life. I cried in my office at work and then again on my way home just thinking about it. I guess I'm saying I don't know, but sometimes when I hear about man's inhumanity to man, I despair. And these days I have moments of panic, wishing desperately that I could protect my sweet little man who knows nothing but love (and the occasionally aggressive 2 year old at the park). I want the world to change right now, before he knows how horrible it can be.
Ack. Can you tell this has been on my mind as well?

Girl Detective

It was definitely a Zhang Yimou film, but I think it was "To Live," which came out in 1994, about when we met, right?

I'm currently visiting the environs of the US abuse case. I heard about it by word of mouth, and choose not to read anything. Yet, foolish me, I read a People magazine article yesterday about a missing child.

I have never been a news hound. At different points in life, I've avoided it either consciously because of the pain, or due to circumstances, like being overloaded at work or grad school.

After having a kid, though, and with all that oxytocin coursing through my system, I had to stop. It paralyzed me; I couldn't process it. It was like poison that stayed in my system. I relied on newspaper headlines and conversations with my husband and friends to keep me from woeful ignorance. Though I shocked my sister once when she mentioned Valerie Plame and I had no idea who she was.

After a long, difficult bout of depression after my second kid, this news shunning became very deliberate and conscious. My mental and emotional well being, never very robust, had taken a huge hit. Current events were not as important as my health. I chose very specific things to become informed on, like US primary candidates.

Currently I read the Google world news headlines. I'm informed about the US presidential race and candidates. For me, with two small children, limited time to myself, and continued periodic, though manageable, periods of depression/anxiety, this is good enough.

And if someone else doesn't think so, that's their problem. I stand by my choices, because I'm the one living my life. I (usually) know best what's best for me and mine.


Wishing you luck the second time too!

I can't bear to hear of children that have been injured, neglected, sick or abused. It just breaks my heart for those poor souls.


It's a difficult balancing act. I go through periods of avoiding both depressing art and the news altogether, and then I start to fear that I am becoming too uninformed, too isolated. I haven't found a happy medium yet.

My fingers are still crossed for you!

waiting line

Thank you for writing this post. I've been grappling with, indeed stuck on, this issue for months. An incident of child abuse was brought to my attention (a few months after having my son) in a news report on abuse committed by nannies. To make matters worse, I realized then that despite the focus on nannies, child abuse is often committed by family members, not strangers. It's tragic, of course, regardless of who is the abuser. This made my depression, anxiety, and utter sense of helplessness worse. Ultimately, I've concluded that the pain is only valuable if it leads to ACTION -- some form of ACTION on everyone's part to stop it and to help those affected by it. Love your children, treat other children kindly, volunteer, donate money, and raise awareness (which will in turn increase volunteerism, donations, and support... hopefully). Personally, I don't know what else to do....


I try my hardest not to read child abuse/neglect stories. After having my daughter I read the newspaper from my home town and found a horrific story. Abuse to a child the same age as my daughter at the time. It still haunts me.

This may sound really awful and I don't think it's something we consciously do but, I'm wondering if we click/read/watch these stories to help us feel good about our own situations. Knowing that our children will not be neglected/abused/hurt by us. There but for the grace of God go I and all that.

On the other hand it could just be that we are curious and want to know.


Dear Thalia, again, you struck a huge chord in me. I feel the same way -- it's hard to put these stories away, because on some level you feel you're doing the child a further injustice -- as if you could somehow make things better just by hurting. And you can't. But these stories demand hurt -- the most appropriate, most human reaction to hearing about them. And now the situation is compounded by that visceral element of imagining your baby in situations like that, and being unable to bear it.

(Of course, the media love visceral reactions of all kinds, so these stories get told disproportionately often. There is a sick, voyeuristic element in many news programs of "look what horrors we've found for you today". I wonder what happens to viewers over time -- are they just awash in pain or do they become inured to it?)

Perhaps a news filter would help? Could you have H watch the news separately, or tape it?

As for your last note, isn't this 6dp3dt and still a bit early?


I'm been struggling with this a lot lately, too, and right now I have decided to avoid anything I think will stay with me and haunt me. But, it's just a temporary solution since I don't like the idea of ignoring the negatives in the world. If we don't know about these things, then how will things ever change? And that's, I think, why awful things like those you described are so haunting. They are things that should not happen and once you know they are happening you want to do something to make it stop. And when you can't, it's hard to detach from it and just forget about it.


I just hate to watch those things, even when I know I should because I'm supposed to care---but it traumatizes me, I have to admit.

So I read the paper, selectively, for the overarching policy bits. Or listen to the radio. The visuals kill me.

But then, since my first child started to figure out what was on TV, I could never watch it anyway for fear of him seeing it, so I got to avoid the worst of it.


i'm really hoping you get lucky twice.

i know what you mean about the news. i can't watch it anymore now that i have a baby. everything bad that happens now doesn't simply happen but happens to someone elses child.


I'm glad I'm not alone in my avoidance.

I've been feeling very...weak?...about this, as if somehow I should be 'stronger'. But the truth is that I'm an emotional mess these days, and the world the Chieftain has been born into terrifies me.


I know about two of the stories you've mentioned, and follow the Zimbabwean situation having visited the country in good times and again as they perched on the edge of this abyss.

I feel helpless to do or change anything, and despair as you do but rubbernecking is so hard not to do, especially when you're a curious, caring person as you are.

While living in Africa, I was very geographically isolated and only heard snippets of news from guests visiting my camp. I actually found that I enjoyed not knowing about all the awful things happening in the world -- they didn't enrich my life in any way -- and tended to live much more in the moment. In hindsight that was possibly an irresponsible attitude, but I can't say I've done anything to change or prevent these things since. I really don't know what I could do.


A sharp twinge is good, as is its timing. I'm hoping like crazy for you Thalia!


Wishing you luck through the end of the wait.

I say hear them - at least the accidents (perhaps not the abuse). Accidents are preventable, and personally, I am stupid enough to let them happen to my child if not forearmed. There are too many things I might just not think of on my own, and too many I might forget if not reminded.


Lut C.

If those news stories about abuse of children and tragic accidents hurt so much to read, be kind to yourself and don't read them.
Letting yourself be haunted by the news does no good at all. Your empathy is a scarce resource, there are better ways to spend it.

Spending your empathy on people you actually come into contact with, offline or online, also costs you dearly, but it is worth it many times over.

I'm not suggesting those stories should leave you utterly indifferent, not at all. But avoiding them is not a bad thing.

I find it hard to compare such individual tragedies with society-wide tragedies past and present.

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