Protecting Our Children… thoughts inspired by “Dear Zachery”

Dear Zachary: a letter to a son about a fatherThe tingling scratch of impending sickness sent me home for a couple of hours today. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to sleep before going back to work, I opted for drinking copious amounts of ginger lemon honey tea and watching the documentary “Dear Zachery: a letter to a son about his father.”

Words can not describe the emotions this story told. Originally started as a way for young Zachery to know his father, Andrew Bagby, who was most likely murdered by his mother, it ended up being a tribute to strength and a reminder of how a slow legal process can cost us the lives of the innocence.

In short, Shirley Turner met Andrew and when he tried to break things off with her, she most likely murdered him. Turns out she was pregnant with his child, Zachery, and try as Andrew’s parents did to protect their grandson from her, thanks to a judge who let her out on bail Shirley eventually committed murder – suicide, drowning them both when Zachery was 13 months old.

The story itself is devastating. Gut wrenching, heart break that lingers in your soul as you wonder how the Bagbys found the strength to deal with the murder of their only son and then their only grandson. It is clear that Shirley Turner was mentally unstable as there were eight restraining orders against her. Mentally unstable in a violent way that was indeed a danger to society. As this thought plays over and over, like the chorus of a song in my head, there are two chords of melody that stick out. First, I am lucky to have gotten out of a similar situation. The second, how do I protect my daughter from falling into this trap when I myself had done so in my twenties.

Perhaps I was young and foolish, freshly graduated from university and naive in the world of those who are perhaps sociopaths. I got caught up with a man with serious issues who was possessive, jealous and abusive – both mentally and physically. After a year, a close friend somehow managed to break through my haze of trying to save this individual with the comment, “You look like a trapped wolf. Wild in your eyes but afraid to try to get away.” It took another year for me to get him to stop stalking me. For me, it could have been a completely different situation if he had indeed decided to continue that violence or go further than just watching me through windows. If he decided to go further like Shirley Turner did.

For whatever reason, I fell victim to this sociopath and allowed myself to be treated in a way no human should be treated and by doing so I put myself in harms way. How can I teach my daughter to not follow in my footsteps? Andrew Bagby had wonderful parents who seemed to raise him with confidence and love. My parents also surrounded me with love as I grew up. So what is it that makes us fall victim to these people who become jealous and violent? What can we say to our kids to make them see the warning signs and get away as quickly as they can?

There is a lot of information on how to teach your kids to watch out for sexual predators and how to protect them from sexual abuse. Cori Linder, a blogger for, just wrote a piece about this exact topic and while you never want to think this will happen to your baby it’s a reality that there are people like that out there. Just like the reality is there are sociopaths, control freaks, and violent people who can also do your baby harm even when they are all grown up.

There are organizations that help you once you are in the situation but how do you spot the signs ahead of time? Perhaps all we can do is instill in our kids a sense of respect for themselves and show them what is healthy in a romantic relationship. In the States, the Partnership Against Domestic Violence holds yearly events teaching teens how to spot and stop dating abuse. Perhaps as parents there’s nothing we can do but give love and support when our kids, all grown up or still in our care, come to us with the problem of an obsessive lover. Hopefully it is something no one who reads this blog will ever have to deal with.

In a perfect world no one would hurt another person. Unfortunately we aren’t in a perfect world and all we can do is love our children every minute we can, unconditionally and completely. Hopefully this will teach them what a good relationship is and how to get out when one doesn’t fit this mold.



3 thoughts on “Protecting Our Children… thoughts inspired by “Dear Zachery”

  1. This really hit home Nikki! We have A LOT in common! I was in a physically and mentally abusive relationship from 21-24 and it was scary how brain washed and scared to get out I was. I hope Ava NEVER goes through anything like that 😦

    • but how do we protect our kids from it? or is it that we need to educate them so they can not be in that situation? so hard as a parent to think about these things, but we have to. and it’s a different world today.. the internet is a whole other world that is scary and amazing all at once. really have to find a way to tell our kids about the dangers without making them either hate us for being controlling or paranoid of life.

  2. I’m not sure how we protect them…I grew up in a very loving, caring family, they taught me lifes lessons and raised me well…they taught me right from wrong and I could talk to them about anything. And I still managed to get myself in that type of relationship…so we can talk about the dangers all we want…once they go out into the real world, it’s up to them to figure things out, keeping in mind the knowledge we have bestowed on them…scary…

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