A mum from the US has taken to Facebook to confess she regrets calling the police on a fellow mum.
Megan Burnside saw a fellow mum yelling at her child and panicked when things got a bit physical – so she felt obliged to tell the authorities.
“A few years ago I was in Tennessee with my husband at a training event,” she confessed in a lengthy post.
“We were at a gas station when we saw a woman with a boy of about 10 years old, struggling to get him in the car. He was screaming and she was so angry and frustrated.
“We watched her get him in the car and there was a lot of physical fighting in the car. It looked like she was hitting him as well, so we called the police. They came and we left.”
But when the police followed up the call, she was shocked by what they told her:
“We then got a call and they told us that the boy was autistic and she really struggled with him, and she had even asked for the police’s help in the past to deal with him because he was very violent.
“They said they have been helping her and she’s doing the best she can.
“I had the most overwhelming realisation of my mistake,” she shared. “In my eagerness to protect the child, I neglected to offer help to the mother.
“Instead I “turned her in” to the authorities. We sat and watched her struggle and called her in.
“I have felt guilt even years later that I didn’t get out of my car and offer her some help. If I had helped in that moment, it may not have led to more violence.”
Fortunately, Megan was able to remember those feelings of guilt – and her newfound desire to help – when, years later, she caught wind of a mum in a supermarket who was struggling to tame her toddler’s tantrum.
“Fast forward to a few weeks ago, I was at a thrift store and a woman with two kids was in line to pay. One toddler boy was fussing and the other boy was asking his mother to buy things.
“She was so angry and explosive at both of them, the whole store was aware of them. People stood there and watched them struggle in the line.
“I remembered the experience I had in Tennessee and walked over to talk to the little boy and put my hand on his foot.
“He calmed down. The mother was so frazzled and apologised. She told me she worked nights and she couldn’t even think in the day.
“I know there were other things going on, but in that moment I told her I understood what it’s like to be overwhelmed. I told her she was a good mom.
“I told her everything was going to be okay. She cried, guys. She CRIED as everyone else watched her struggle with her burden.
“Years earlier I would have been holding my cell phone ready, watching to see if she did anything that I should report.”
She rounded up her mini-essay with some food for thought:
“I know there’s a place for the authorities to step in, but I feel like we have become a culture who watches for faults instead of opportunities to help.
“We have become more separated and condemning, instead of compassionate and loving and serving.
“If we helped more, we would have to call the authorities less.”
Indeed, Megan’s message that we should be less quick to pass judgement and more inclined to reach out and offer a helping hand to struggling mums is totally brilliant ?
But, at the same time, we’d hate for anyone to feel like they can’t get in touch with their local authorities if they’re genuinely concerned about something.
It’s totally different from, say, a public-shaming with slyly-taken videos and pictures posted all over the internet, without context. Because that’s a HUGE no-no.
Image: Facebook/Megan Burnside