What Would You Do If You Thought Your Child Killed Someone?

I’m one of those people who didn’t realize Casey Anthony was a female, much less that she was on trial or why, until very recently. But I gather that her parents presumed she killed her young child Caylee and yet also were pleased at the verdict this week.

I joked that my own mother would personally lead me to the gallows if she ever thought I did anything to one of my children. I asked her and she confirmed that, in fact, she would cooperate with authorities and personally drag me down to jai…

  1. Trace

    God’s punishment and man’s are two different things Mollie. There is too much wrong with our imperfect prison system to imagine that this is the perfect or just punishment for a crime. I could never imagine turning over the job of parenting to the state no matter what the crime or what the age of my child. Trying to keep my child out of prison is not the same thing as condoning a crime.

    Of course my children are all young. It’s very hard to imagine being the parent of Casey Anthony much less the parent of an habitual serial offender. 

  2. The Great Adventure!

    My kids have been brought up with the understanding that they are responsible for their actions and choices.  I won’t go so far as to say that I’d lead them to the gallows, but I’d talk it through with them to help them come to acceptance of their fate.  I would not be looking for ways to bail them out of the mess.  I definitely would not be able to stop loving them, however.

  3. River

    I’m with you, Mollie. I don’t understand the misplaced loyalty - so they call it – that harbors and hides crimes. It’s corrosive to the perpetrator and the community. We’re talking about some tribal relic of pre-civilized times, when morality was seen as unaffordable.

    The earliest laws of Hammurabi and Moses make no tribal distinction, knowing that to do so undermines all justice. Without justice, all of civilization collapses. Sure, mercy is important, but justice comes first.

  4. Southern Pessimist

    One of my earliest childhood memories is shoplifting a small rubber baloon that would have a curly shape when blown up. When my parents saw me blowing it up when I got home from the store, they immediately drove me back to the store where I had to confess my sins to the store manager. People think shame is not an appropriate motivator in these more enlightened times but it works well at early stages of development and has a lasting effect.

  5. OkieSailor

    It’s very hard to imagine being in that position but having reared four children to adulthood I can say we always came down on the side of having them take the consequences of their action. It’s important that we all learn that actions have consequences, both good and bad. I always said I would not bail a son out of jail until they spent at least one night there — but, thank God, none ever needed to be bailed out. I do think that letting kids and teen face up to minor/moderate consequences makes it less likely that major problems will have to be confronted.

  6. Anon

    It’s a statistical truth that nothing is absolutely certain.  The question then becomes, how much honor does a parent give to the, however minuscule, probability of innocence?   Too many troubling variables here for comfort however the decision goes.

  7. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Southern Pessimist: One of my earliest childhood memories is shoplifting a small rubber baloon that would have a curly shape when blown up. When my parents saw me blowing it up when I got home from the store, they immediately drove me back to the store where I had to confess my sins to the store manager. People think shame is not an appropriate motivator in these more enlightened times but it works well at early stages of development and has a lasting effect. · Jul 7 at 7:03am

    My mother has an almost identical memory with candy theft and can vividly recall how terrified and ashamed she was when she had to walk into the store and tell the manager what she had done.

  8. katievs

    I can remember as a very small child being scandalized and demoralized by parents covering for their children’s wrongdoing.  I still am.  Don’t they care about truth and justice?  Are they more concerned with pleasing their children or protecting them from pain than with educating them well?

    I’m with Socrates. It’s much worse for the soul to commit an injustice than to suffer one.  Punishment restores order to the soul and to the polity disrupted by the wrong.

    On the eve of his execution, Socrates exhorted his friends: If you love me, punish my children when they do wrong.

    The older I get the more I hate dysfunctional relationships.

  9. katievs

    To answer your question more directly, Mollie: I wouldn’t see it as my responsibility to play judge or prosecutor.  But I would urge my child to do the right thing: turn herself in. If I thought she were a danger to others, I might feel compelled to notify the authorities. For sure, I wouldn’t commit perjury to protect her.

  10. Jimmy Carter
    katievs:

    I’m with Socrates. It’s much worse for the soul to commit and injustice than to suffer one.  Punishment restores order to the soul and to the polity disrupted by the wrong.

    · Jul 7 at 7:12am

    If You are wrongly convicted of a crime and “punished,” would that still restore order to Yer soul?

  11. katievs
    Jimmy Carter

    katievs:

    I’m with Socrates. It’s much worse for the soul to commit and injustice than to suffer one.  Punishment restores order to the soul and to the polity disrupted by the wrong.

    · Jul 7 at 7:12am

    If You are wrongly convicted of a crime and “punished,” would that still restore order to Yer soul? · Jul 7 at 7:16am

    If you haven’t committed a crime, there is no disorder in your soul.

  12. Jimmy Carter
    katievs

    If you haven’t committed a crime, there is no disorder in your soul. · Jul 7 at 7:19am

    Right. My point is that “punishment” is more than restoring order to One’s soul. It could also be torture to the innocent.

  13. SteveS

    I broke a neighbors lamppost when I had my first paper route and would deliver the papers from my bike ( a Schwinn, with motorcycle handle bars and banana seat) pretty cool huh. Anyone have one?  Yes papers did come that way for those who are to young to remember. My mom told me to go back to the neighbor, (since I had pedaled home as fast as I could after the crime), knock on his door, admit it and offer to make restitution. So if my mom knew of my guilt in this case she would have made me march myself to the police and confess.

    Confession of a crime, what a concept.

  14. Western Chauvinist

    I’ve had to turn around and drive my kids back to the scene of the crime at least once for each child.  Absolutely, truth and justice come first.  I wouldn’t stop loving my kids if they committed a serious crime, but I would definitely want them to face the consequences.  This would involve lots of prayer and tears, no doubt.

    Casey Anthony’s parents have a monster for a child.  If they are in any way decent people, and I have no evidence otherwise, this is an unspeakable tragedy.  Both that she killed their grandchild and that she will not pay the price.  

  15. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Trace Urdan: God’s punishment and man’s are two different things Mollie. There is too much wrong with our imperfect prison system to imagine that this is the perfect or just punishment for a crime. I could never imagine turning over the job of parenting to the state no matter what the crime or what the age of my child. Trying to keep my child out of prison is not the same thing as condoning a crime.

    Of course my children are all young. It’s very hard to imagine being the parent of Casey Anthony much less the parent of an habitual serial offender.  · Jul 7 at 6:53am

    But it’s not the job of a parent to exact justice on a child for a crime they committed. That is the job of the state, no?
  16. Trace
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    But it’s not the job of a parent to exact justice on a child for a crime they committed. That is the job of the state, no? · Jul 7 at 7:45am

    Yes, of course. And I would not break any laws. But neither would I “personally drag” my child off to prison and I would do everything possible to ease their suffering and aid in their legal defense.

  17. Leslie Watkins

    Exactly my thoughts, katievs. I would be there beside my child at trial and beyond. I would love her unconditionally. But I would not actively try to save her from prosecution. Her life is not mine to live. To overstep in such a way, when such huge moral issues pertain, would, to my mind, be immoral to me, her, and the world at large. An unwillingness to take responsibility for one’s acts toward others should never be abetted, in my view.

    katievs: To answer your question more directly, Mollie: I wouldn’t see it as my responsibility to play judge or prosecutor.  But I would urge my child to do the right thing: turn herself in. If I thought she were a danger to others, I might feel compelled to notify the authorities. For sure, I wouldn’t commit perjury to protect her. · Jul 7 at 7:15am

  18. Leslie Watkins

    That would be a travesty, a very different issue to address.

    Jimmy Carter

    katievs:

    I’m with Socrates. It’s much worse for the soul to commit and injustice than to suffer one.  Punishment restores order to the soul and to the polity disrupted by the wrong.

    · Jul 7 at 7:12am

    If You are wrongly convicted of a crime and “punished,” would that still restore order to Yer soul? · Jul 7 at 7:16am
  19. JohnBoy
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.: I’m one of those people who didn’t realize Casey Anthony was a female, much less that she was on trial or why, until very recently.

    Mollie, I’m impressed that there’s somebody who’s more unplugged from popular culture than I am.  That takes real dedication.  I’ve been hearing about this case on talk-radio from time to time over the years.

  20. Underground Conservative
    Southern Pessimist: One of my earliest childhood memories is shoplifting a small rubber baloon that would have a curly shape when blown up. When my parents saw me blowing it up when I got home from the store, they immediately drove me back to the store where I had to confess my sins to the store manager. People think shame is not an appropriate motivator in these more enlightened times but it works well at early stages of development and has a lasting effect. · Jul 7 at 7:03am

    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    Southern Pessimist: 

    My mother has an almost identical memory with candy theft and can vividly recall how terrified and ashamed she was when she had to walk into the store and tell the manager what she had done. · Jul 7 at 7:11am

    Oh yeah, I remember this same thing happening to me when I was about five. I was so mortified by the experience that I haven’t stolen a thing since, not even a company pen.  

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