Parenting is hard work. It is also rewarding. People probably do not give a lot of thought to parenting being hard work because everyone has parents and most people end up having kids. Also, the rewarding parts of parenting often make the hard parts seem worth it.
The Mankato Free Press has the story of how Nicollet County, Minnesota District Court Judge Todd W. Westphal had to consider whether to terminate the parental rights of Russell and Mona Hauer. Interestingly, the story says that Judge Westphal found that all four of the Hauers' children were victims of child abuse and emotional mistreatment. But Judge Westphal only terminated the parental rights with respect to one of child.
The Hauers lost their parental rights to an 8-year-old boy who became severely malnourished while in the Hauers' care. Due to malnourishment, the boy is about the size of a typical four-year-old. The story says that Judge Westphal does not believe that the Hauers deliberately intended to harm the boy but did only feed him a a liquid diet, force him to sleep in a sled in the basement due to bed wetting problems and punished the boy with a broom handle. The story isn't clear but apparently one can hit someone with a broom handle and not intend any harm. I assume there is also a way of hitting a child with a broom handle that would be intending to deliberately harm the child.
Apparently, the other three Hauer children were not subjected to the same treatment so those kids can still call the Hauers their parents. Maybe the other three children got to sleep in beds.
The striking thing of this sad story is that the boy that the Hauers adopted the boy they abused to the point that they lost their parental rights to him. Which means they had to show authorities that they were fit parents to adopt the boy. The story indicates the Hauers are (or maybe were) also foster parents to other children. It makes one question how often social workers check in on how foster children are being treated and also makes one question whether social workers should be checking to see how adopted children are doing with their parents. The case only came to the attention of authorities when Mrs. Hauer took the boy to the hospital when she thought he had spit up blood and was ruminating his food.
According to the story the Hauers called friends and neighbors as part of their defense and the friends and neighbors testified that the Hauers were loving parents. The story is silent as to whether any of these neighbors saw that the boy was sleeping on a sled and being punished with a broom handle.
What do you think Mr. Torvik? Would it make parenting easier or harder if making a child sleep on a sled was an acceptable form of discipline? I tend to think harder because if one does not recognize that some types of punishment are simply unacceptable, one has to make a lot more decisions about how to discipline a child. I'm going to stick to using timeouts.