Ethan Henderson would be the same age as my son. He would be if it wasn’t for the unfortunate incident where his father, 23 year-old Gordon Collins-Faunce, held Ethan suspended by his head before throwing him into a chair which caused critical injuries leading to his death.
It been about a month since this tragic event took place. I can’t shake the thoughts that more could have been done to prevent this trajedy. The comments on the stories go on and on about the system, DHHS, bad parenting, liberal media, single moms, PTSD, welfare and all the other tangents that faceless commenters ramble on about. They fail to really talk about a major underlying issue. When Gordon told investigators he often felt overwhelmed having to care for Ethan and his siblings.
It’s no secret that my young son and I have had our issues. He cries often when I hold him, he is very fussy most nights, he doesn’t sleep particularly well, and he can go from zero to 60 faster than you can say meltdown. It can be incredibly frustrating, and it can make me angry. When he cries for 45 straight minutes I will experience a range of emotions: anger, fear, regret, confusion, isolation, hopelessness, rage and disappointment. Sometimes I blame myself, his mother, the dogs, or a number of other things for what to a new parent, can be an overwhelming situation.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, although what happened here is truly awful and Gordon Collins-Faunce will have to live with this the rest of his life, I understand. I can see how situations like this can happen, and how someone could loose themselves into a fit of rage.
New parents need to know that these feelings are common and they are going to happen. Every baby cries and evey adult stresses out about how to stop it. It can be scary when a baby turns purple and screams for the better part of an hour. But there are people out there that can help.
Before Tristan was born I took a birthing class and went to Daddy Boot Camp. Both classes tackled the issue of abuse and “shaken baby syndrome“. The common theme in both is that it’s OK if the baby is crying. Babies will be fussy and will cry for no reason for what seems like eternity on a fairly regular basis. The key is knowing when YOU as a parent need a break. If the baby is not hungry or wet and you can’t get them to stop crying and you are getting very upset, it’s OK to set them down in their crib or swing and take a 5-minute break. Better that than the alternative.
This is a point that I don’t think is communicated well enough to new parents. Also, I think it is up to more then just the doctors or pre-birth classes to tell you its OK. This is something that should be discussed at the societal level if there is ever any hope of preventing these types of events.
There are no winners in this story. The familes, friends, authorities, doctors and social workers involved here will always have to wonder if they could have stepped in and done more to save this child’s life. They will all carry that burden, and that’s something I imagine is tough to forget. I feel bad for everyone involved and I hope as a society we can move past finger pointing and get real help for those out there that really need it.
In case you or someone you know would like a copy of the DVD “The Power of Purple Crying” (a video on what to do with a crying baby) please contact me using the contact tab above. I have one and would be happy to mail it to you.