The Voice of a Child

by | May 24, 2003 | Holy Spirit, Obedience

Cory and Mark were the best of friends. They were like two peas in a pod, inseparable most days. They even managed to hang out at recess time, which meant chatting over the fence that separated their schools. When Mark played at our house, he was an absolute joy to have around. I never understood why his mom would always say, “I hope he didn’t give you too much trouble!”

I will never forget that day I took the boys to their summer camp. Mark stepped out of the car and my heart leapt from my chest. Were my eyes deceiving me? His face was a mottled combination of red, green and purple with the outline of two handprints still embedded in his skin.

When I calmly asked Mark what had happened, he said that a bee tried to sting him and he had slapped himself. I looked into his 11-year-old eyes and asked if he was okay. He said he was fine but I felt his pain and knew otherwise.

As I hung up the phone from Children’s Aid I felt terrible. I had known Beth for years through the boys’ friendship, which made my decision even harder than it was. I felt my fear of having to make the call, it was almost paralyzing, but I knew in my heart that I had no other choice. Someone had to be the voice of this helpless child.

I began to remember the times when I heard the yelling and witnessed Mark, in his stocking feet, banging on his kitchen window, begging to be let back into his locked house. Why didn’t I say something then?

I knew that an intervention must have taken place because the next day, Beth approached me and asked if I had made the call. I looked into her eyes, knowing I had done the right thing and said, “Yes.”

She yelled and ranted that she was a good mother, that I had no right to interfere and that it was none of my business how she chose to discipline her child. She was so angry. I tried to calm her down, reassuring her that I knew she was a good mother and I asked if we could talk about it. There was no reasoning with her. She stormed back to her house cursing me even more and said that as far as she was concerned I no longer existed and she vowed that the boys would never play again.

My heart went out to my son as he longed to play with his friend. He didn’t understand why they couldn’t. September came and once again the boys met at the fence between their schools, even though Mark was terrified that his mom might find out. He told Cory about how his mom had gone to anger classes, how he and his sister almost went to foster homes and how his dad was almost taken out of the home as well. Beth blamed me for all of it, which I couldn’t change.

I could feel the anger and judgment swelling in my neighborhood. I couldn’t imagine what they had been told. No one spoke to me and it felt like daggers were shooting out of their eyes. Some couldn’t bear to even face me, turning away as soon as they saw me! I had known some of these neighbors for over 15 years!

I would be lying if I said it wasn’t uncomfortable at times. My feelings of fear, anger and hurt consumed me and there were days that I felt sick to my stomach as I drove into my subdivision, the energy of this anger was so powerful. I knew I had to move these emotions out of the way so that I could empower Cory to move through his. I held him as he cried in my arms not wanting to go trick or treating that Halloween thinking that he wouldn’t get any candy because all the neighbors hated me!

As a mother, how could I be in judgment of Beth? I felt my compassion for her. I had been there. As a parent I think we all have. So overwhelmed with our own suppressed emotions that we finally explode. I remembered the days when I used to yell at my kids projecting my anger and my disappointment in them. I may not have harmed them physically, but the verbal and emotional abuse was just as damaging. It’s only when I learned from my mentor, how to take responsibility for my behavior and reactions, that I was able to Break the Cycle of parenting in my family. Ultimately, these shifts led me to my life’s work, as my partner and I inspire others to do the same.

Ten months later, Cory passed one of his Tae Kwon Do exams. He was so excited and desperately wanted to share this news with Mark. Cory said, “Maybe if Mark’s mom knows that I’m into this sport, then she’ll like me.” I assured him that it wasn’t about him…and he need not fear her. I encouraged him to go share his news with his friend and told him that maybe he could be the one to inspire her to let go of her anger. Cory courageously walked out of our house with his broken piece of wood in tow and bunches of butterflies in his stomach. I was so proud of him and I prayed that they would open their door to him. A few minutes later, he came running in, busting to tell me, “He can play Mom…Mark can play with me!!” He dropped the wood and they ran to the park, all of us ecstatically happy!

One day Mark told Cory to thank me. My son asked why, and when he repeated Mark’s words to me, tears of joy filled my eyes and love exploded in my heart. Mark said, “Because your mom called, my mom CAN’T hit me anymore!”

Although there were times that I had wanted to move to escape from my uncomfortable feelings, I knew these feelings would move with me. It was and still is up to me to take care of myself and find peace within me and in my home.

The boys still play together either on the front lawn or in the garage. As I watch them, I dream that maybe one day they’ll be able to play in each other’s houses again.

As I remember the pain of this experience, I would do it all again in a heartbeat…maybe sooner next time. Millions of children are without a voice, living in fear and pain. Help them feel safe.

Be the voice of a child in your life.

Jo-Anne Cutler

Jo-Anne is a life coach, facilitator and aspiring author. Her vision is to inspire and empower us to be the best parents; teachers and role models the children of this world need us to be. To learn more about Jo-Anne, her work and upcoming book, please visit:


The Voice of a Child