If there鈥檚 one thing that a celebrity like Chrissy Teigen has learned about being a new mom, it鈥檚 that she can鈥檛 seem to do anything right. Going out to dinner with her husband聽John Legend聽so soon after their daughter Luna was born? Shame on her. Chrissy breastfeeding聽said infant daughter between sitting courtside at the NBA finals? Gross. Celebrities (especially women) are definitely very susceptible to harsh judgement. Though not a parent, Demi Lovato even quit Twitter and Instagram this week 鈥 albeit very briefly 鈥 because of what she saw as a constant stream of negativity. While living publicly does make you more vulnerable to commentary, the outrage recently directed toward two everyday, normal parents who found themselves in the middle of a national news story last week was scathing.

On June 14 at around 9:30 PM, Matt and Melissa Graves were at the Grand Floridian Hotel at Walt Disney World in Florida with their four-year-old daughter and two-year-old son. As the parents and daughter lounged nearby, two-year-old Lane was playing near the shore when an alligator attacked, pulling him into the water. His parents tried but were聽unable to rescue him, and his body was found the following day.

As heartbreaking and unforeseeable as this accident was, many saw it as neglectful and lashed out online with the last thing the Graves needed 鈥 judgement and shaming. Some, for instance, felt that the gators needed compassion before the parents.

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Before we fall too deep down that dark Internet hole, the good news is that a lot of people also reached out to speak against the parent-shaming and instead give support. Writer Melissa Fenton, a Florida native who says the gator attack was not the norm even by local standards,聽wrote聽a Facebook post urging parents to drop the blame and shame attitude, 鈥減ut away your pitchfork for a moment鈥 and 鈥減lease just LOVE other parents.鈥 The post struck a nerve. It鈥檚 been shared over 530,000 times, and Melissa says that she鈥檚 received thousands of comments and emails from people who鈥檝e also lost a child and have lived with the shame for too long, thanking her for giving them a voice. 鈥淚鈥檓 sorry and angry that for many of you, you鈥檝e had to wait so long to feel this compassion. That you have been both grieving a loss and having to shield yourself from shame is incomprehensible.鈥

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Perhaps most poignantly, other parents began sharing photos of their children playing in the exact spot that Lane had been attacked, proving that it was a tragic and unpredictable event that the parents should not be blamed for.

Jennifer Vinditti, who was a guest at the same resort as the Graves鈥, shared a chilling, now-viral photo of her young son playing in the same spot just an hour before the attack. 鈥淚鈥檝e already seen posts criticizing the parents. I can assure you alligators were not on my mind at all when Channing was in the water,鈥 she wrote. 鈥淚t鈥檚 a tiny beach, surrounded by pools, water slides, a restaurant and a fire pit. I can鈥檛 conceive that an alligator would be in such a busy, small space. 鈥#鈥巎udgelesspraymore鈥.鈥


Melissa Mitchell, who blogs about motherhood at SippyCupMom.com, points out that the judgmental parents will find any reason to criticize, and admits that it could just have easily been her. 鈥淔ive years ago, we stayed at the Grand Floridian Resort. My son was three years old and he played on that very beach,鈥 she wrote. 鈥淵es, there are 鈥渘o swimming鈥 signs and he didn鈥檛 go into the water. He COULD have 鈥 he鈥檚 a toddler and we all know how fast toddlers are. But he was right at the water鈥檚 edge like I鈥檓 sure hundreds if not thousands of people do at Walt Disney World each year.

鈥淲hat was supposed to be a vacation at the Happiest Place on Earth has turned into their worst nightmare and I can鈥檛 stop thinking that it could have been me,鈥 she continues.

This tragedy is truly heartbreaking. Parenting is tough work 鈥 let鈥檚 take the lead from these awesomely empathetic women and show all parents compassion.

Have you seen primarily聽negative or supportive reactions? What do you think? Let us know over聽@BritandCo.

(Photos via聽Spencer Platt/Getty, Facebook, Courtesy of SippyCupMom/Melissa Mitchell)