She once called the cops on a fellow parent. Here's why she wishes she hadn't.

Years ago, Megan Burnside saw a mother physically struggling with her son. The boy was screaming ... so she called the cops.

The mother, it seemed, was trying to get her 10-year-old son back in the car, and it looked like things were getting physical. Concerned for the kid, Burnside decided to call the police. Then she and her husband left.

When the police called her later to update her on the situation, she was horrified: The boy had autism, they told her, and was known to sometimes lash out physically. The mother was just doing her best to calm him down, as she had many times before.


Sadly, stories like this aren't rare. Well-meaning strangers are frequently quick to intervene by calling authorities, which can cause undue stress and trauma for both the child and parent when that person has read the situation wrong. It can even be extraordinarily dangerous for people with disabilities and families of color.

When she realized the situation hadn't been at all what it had seemed, Burnside was racked with guilt. In fact, she still is.

When a similar thing happened to a friend of hers, Burnside decided to share her shameful story on Facebook — and explain how she'd do it all over differently, given the chance.

"This has come up for me today because someone called DCFS (Department of Child and Family Services) on my dear friend," she wrote.

I have something weighing on my heart this morning. A few years ago I was in Tennessee with my husband at a training...

Posted by Megan Orr Burnside on Thursday, December 7, 2017

Burnside's friend, whom she called "the kind of mother I want to be like," was bedridden with a respiratory infection, when a person who probably thought they were "helping" called the authorities.

"I don't know what this person observed that they thought was a problem," she wrote. "Maybe her kids were running around without parental supervision? Maybe a parent wasn't feeding them so they were foraging for themselves?"

But there's a better way of doing things, Burnside says: actually offering to assist the struggling parent.

"I am sad that the person who called her in didn't ask how they could HELP HER," she wrote.

The post went viral and touched thousands and thousands of people who agree with her message.

Concern for the well-being of others is a good thing. But concern without empathy hurts everyone.

She wants to encourage people to reach out and help each other whenever possible, and not to assume the worst of our fellow parents and human beings.

"I really believe that the root of all judgement comes from self-judgement," she says in a Facebook message, noting that she developed more compassion for others by learning to have more compassion for herself and stop worrying about "messing up parenting."

"I think people want to live in a world where we help more and judge less, and all it takes is compassion," she says. "A lot of people have shared how this post will change the way they respond to struggling moms in the future, and I am really encouraged by that."

To be sure, at some point, you may actually witness abuse or neglect, and in those situations it's smart to get the right authorities involved. Burnside just wants to encourage all of us to think — and feel — before we act.

More
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular