If you caught this week’s Teen Mom 2, you probably raised an eyebrow when Leah Messer spoke about her 6-year-old daughter Ali’s claim that her stepmother, Miranda, refuses to help her carry her heavy backpack. After all, it sounds like a mean thing to do, forcing a little kid, especially one with muscular dystrophy, to carry a bag that they can’t manage. But Miranda and Ali’s father, Corey Simm, have addressed the little girl’s statement and remind us that a child’s viewpoint is often very different than an adult’s.
Speaking to MTV News, Miranda Simms claimed she was heartbroken by Ali’s disclosure and said she always tries to carry the little girl’s backpack for her. “I would never try to do any harm to the children or create any kind of task that I know Ali cannot do.”
Corey stands by her statement. “Miranda is aware of what Ali is capable of and what she’s not capable of doing. If Miranda would have felt that the backpack was too heavy, she would not have made her carry the backpack.”
Ali and her twin sister, Aleeah, have been through a lot recently. Their father and stepmother welcomed a baby this past December, and they’ve been the subject of a prolonged custody battle that was recently settled, with primary custody being awarded to their father. With their parents’ tumultuous history, it’s not surprising that a claim such as a young child being forced to carry a bag that’s too heavy for her would cause a stir among the caretakers.
But while it’s important to take every child’s comments about how they’re being treated seriously, it’s also important to get the entire story before making claims or accusations that a child is being mistreated by an adult in their lives.
Kids have a unique perspective on the world that doesn’t always match how adults see things. It doesn’t mean a child is lying — what they say can be the truth to them — but a child’s truth can differ from an adult’s. For example, a room that seems average size to an adult can feel huge to a kid, or the monster you can’t see under the bed is very, very real in their mind. A 30-minute wait for brownies to bake seems like an eternity to a child, just as a bag may feel much heavier to them than an adult perceives it to be.
In situations like this, when a child makes a claim against a caretaker that the caretaker denies is true, it’s not about making a child feel like they’re wrong — it’s about making them feel validated in their opinions and working to find a better way to communicate.
Fortunately Messer and the Simms seem to be working on finding this tricky balance as they learn to co-parent. Miranda Simms feels they all can learn from this backpack incident and move forward. “I’m not saying how she felt was wrong — her feelings are important. I just hope that we can move on, and I hope that the girls feel comfortable no matter where they are at one time.”
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