If your life is a mess; don’t have children

What kind of people starve a child to death, burn her body and dump her remains in the trash? Emani Moss was a beautiful 10-year-old girl who lived in Gwinnett County, Ga. with her father and stepmother. Now Emani is dead and her father Eman Moss and stepmother, Tiffany Moss, have been charged with her murder.

Robin Moss, Emani’s paternal grandmother, told reporters this week that she begged authorities not to return Emani to her father and stepmother’s home. Tiffany Moss was convicted of child cruelty a few years ago for abusing the girl. Officials hoped that conviction, along with parenting and anger management classes would help the parents do right by their child.

Robin Moss said she wanted to care for the granddaughter she feared was being neglected and abused. Two other children lived in that same home.

Authorities believe the child died of starvation a few days before her remains were discovered last week.

Nearly a month ago, 12-year-old Eric Forbes of Paulding County, Ga. was found unconscious in a bathtub. His father, Shayaa Yusef Forbes, called 911 and claimed his child had accidentally drowned in the bathtub. But after signs of severe abuse were found on Eric’s body, Forbes was arrested for murder.

For most parents, hurting their own children is unthinkable. But thousands of children are neglected, abused or murdered by their parents or insignificant others who have access to the children.

Crimes against children happen so frequently they have become almost routine. We call ourselves a civilized society yet our children are far more likely to be murdered by people they know than by strangers. The most vulnerable children live in homes where they are exposed to deranged, addictive or dangerous people. A two-year-old left with a live-in boyfriend is diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease. A child comes to school with red marks caused by a beating. A baby is brought to the emergency room with an unexplained fractured skull.

Let’s face it: if your life is a mess, you are going to attract people whose lives mirror yours. Drug addicts hang out with other junkies. People who drink themselves silly, generally pal around with friends who do the same.

People in this condition shouldn’t think about having children. Unfortunately, they are incapable of thinking about anyone other than themselves. And many don’t have the good sense to take their children to someone who will look after them properly until they can. Instead they are living in a state of deep denial and children are dying as a result.

Expose broken people to your children, and your children will suffer.

Emani Moss, a sweet-faced little girl with pigtails, died too soon because the people who were supposed to love her starved her to death and tried to cover it up by tossing her burned remains in the trash.

Eric Forbes, a handsome middle-schooler who liked to play football, had severe bruises and bite marks on his lifeless body.

No children deserve this fate.

The Pain of Family Secrets

Every family has secrets. Some are eventually revealed; others emerge at the worst time possible. A funeral. A wedding.

Some people carry secrets to the grave.

My friend found out several years ago that the son he thought was his biological child was not. The child’s mother, who lived in another city, probably knew all along. She also knew my friend would be a better father and provider than the man who really impregnated her.

The secret was revealed by a paternity test. Not Maury Povich style; just a call from an attorney who suggested the paternity test when the boy’s mother decided she wanted more child support. Momma needs a new car, she told her son.  The move backfired in a big way.

I have known about this child since the woman called my friend and told him she was pregnant. From that moment, David (not his real name), readied his mind to become a father. He was nervous, and even briefly considered marrying the woman.  When his son was born, there was no reason to question paternity. He had pudgy little cheeks and large hands — he even looked like David, who threw everything he had into being a good father.

Then came the revelation. David considered ending child support payments and suing her; but realized he that would only hurt his son. And make no mistake, the child is his son in every sense of the word. He’s just not his sperm donor.

Still, there is pain. His son, now in his early 20s, has never been told. David, who plans to tell him soon, knows this secret could cause his son to question whether everything in his life has been a lie.

Most secrets cause permanent damage. My friend Connie told me about a women she interviewed who had been sexually abused by a male relative who babysat her while her parents worked. The abuse started when she was 8 years old and she never told anyone. As is often the case, her abuser made her believe she was to blame for what happened. Years later, when she told a police officer what happened, the man tried to run her down with his car.

When she had children, she sat them down and told them they should always tell if someone touches them inappropriately. Silence allows abusers to have the upper hand. And many of them convince themselves that what they are doing is somehow justified. The only way to break the cycle is to educate children and be honest about past secrets. There is also healing in revealing secrets. When we give voice to our emotions and past experiences, good or bad, we are releasing them into the universe. Only then can we move on with our lives.

27 children by 17 women? Are you for real?

In his 38 years of life, Nathaniel J. Smith of Dayton, Ohio has produced 27 children by 17 different women.

Now this dude has the nerve to want a reality show. Please! You need a truckload of condoms or an operation.

When asked by a judge on the TV show “Divorce Court” how he had fathered so many children, Smith gave a one word answer, “sex.”

Well, duh!

One of the most memorable lines in the 1991 film “Boyz n the Hood” came from Furious Styles, played masterfully by Laurence Fishburne. He was counseling his son Tre (Cuba Gooding) on sex and responsibility.

“Any fool with a d*** can make a baby, but it takes a real man to raise his children.”

I guess Smith was too busy to watch the movie. His children range in age from 1 years old to 21. His estranged wife is 23 and his 21-year-old daughter now has a child of her own, according to the Dayton Daily News. The former barber, who calls himself a poet and performer, told the newspaper that times are hard so the mothers of his children have had to step up and do more. He was called into court recently on failure to appear charges related to a child support case. No surprise there since Smith has 21 child support orders.

Smith is an idiot. I’m not going to waste any more time on him. But here’s what I want to know from the mothers of his children: why would you lay up with a man who has 2 or 3 children he isn’t taking care of let alone enough for at least two basketball teams? It’s unfair to you and it’s especially unfair to your children.

If a man won’t take care of his own children, he’s surely not going to take care of you. I’ve been in court trying to get child support from a man who did not want to pay. It is humiliating but sometimes necessary. In my case, I had a job; and he was working on his Master’s degree and working on and off. I decided it wasn’t worth going to court for what at that time would have amounted to $25 to $50 a week.

Don’t get me wrong, women and men with children should be required to pay child support. But before we have children with someone, we really need to examine that person’s character.

We must love ourselves enough not to deal with a man who doesn’t take responsibility for his actions. There are too many unwanted children in the world already longing for someone to care for them. If you really want a child and you can’t find a decent man to marry, perhaps you should consider adoption.

But whatever you do, don’t get with the likes of Nathaniel J. Smith.