What is Suffer the Little Children?

STLC header image

A lot of people look at the title of my blog and have an instant negative reaction. One Facebook user even gave it a negative review based on the name alone. Why did I choose the name “Suffer the Little Children,” you might wonder?

I am not a particularly religious person, but I have my own beliefs, and I have a strong sense of right and wrong. I am a highly empathetic person, and I adore children more than anything else in the world. For that reason, even though I’ve never read the Bible in its entirety, a couple of passages have caught my attention over the years. To start with, this one (as quoted from Wikipedia):

“Jesus and the Little Children,” a painting by Vogel von Vogelstein.
(Jesus-story.net)

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:1–10)

Christ and Children from around the World (Christ with Children), art by Del Parson.
(ChurchofJesusChrist.org)

The way I interpret this is that small children are innocent, loving, forgiving, affectionate, and without guile, and Jesus wanted his followers to manifest the same traits. From this passage, it also sounds like Jesus had zero patience for anyone who would harm a child, which I can certainly get behind.

Then there are the passages from which the blog’s title comes:

Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.
But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.” (Matthew 19:13-15)

And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” (Luke 18:15–17)

Basically, what Jesus was saying to his apostles, who were trying to keep the children from approaching Jesus, was that they shouldn’t prevent the kids from reaching him. He wanted his followers to be like these children in order to get into heaven.

So the bottom line is this: Jesus preached patience for and kindness toward children and valued adults with the same character traits as children display. I’m fully on board with that, and from that came the name of my blog: Suffer the Little Children.

The subject matter of my stories fits in with the modern usage of the word “suffer,” of course, and I’m all about a little wordplay; however, the most compelling reason I chose this name for my blog was the explanation above.

(PBS.org)

Another question I get frequently is “How can you stand to write the stories you do?” That’s a fair question. Being as empathetic as I am and loving children as much as I do, it’s heartbreaking to learn about kids whose parents or caretakers caused them any kind of harm, let alone took their lives; however, because I feel so strongly about making this world a better place for children, I feel it’s my calling in life to tell these stories for a few reasons.

  • These kids deserve to have their stories told. Their voices were stolen from them at tragically young ages, and they didn’t have the opportunity to tell their own stories, so I want to pay them tribute by doing it for them.
  • The people responsible for harming the children I write about should have their names and faces blasted out across the internet for the world to see. Anyone who could do what these people have done (or “allegedly” done, in some cases) to a child deserves public vilification.
  • Finally, publicizing these tragic stories brings public awareness to them, and enough outcry and advocacy can lead (and, in many cases, has led) to changes in laws and policies to better protect children from abuse and neglect at the hands of their parents or guardians. (For example: Nixmary’s Law, Elisa’s Law, Caylee’s Law, Jonathan’s Law, and others.)

And finally, to answer one more question I often get: who’s behind this blog, anyway?

Author photo - Laine
An extremely rare selfie.

My name is Laine, and I’m a divorced mom of two amazing kids (ages 15 and 12). I’ve loved children ever since I was one myself, and I’ve always had a strong maternal instinct. My mother fondly remembers asking me when I was tiny what I wanted to be when I grew up, and my answer was immediate: “A mommy.”

I’ve also been a true crime follower since a (possibly inappropriately) young age. As a baby murderino, I used to leaf through my aunt’s true crime books when we visited her house, the kind of books with a sheaf of black and white photos in the middle of the pages. It never failed to awe and horrify me that people were capable of such brutality toward each other. Imagine how blown my mind was when I found out some people committed these heinous acts against their own children. Susan Smith was the first such mother I learned about, and her babies, Michael and Alex, have never been far from my mind. The same goes for Diane Downs’ children, Christie, Cheryl, and Danny, two of whom fortunately survived her attempt to shoot them to death in the backseat of her own car. Don’t even get me started on precious little Caylee Anthony (or her acquitted egg donor “mother”).

The stories of kids like these have always caught and held my attention, and I have always perched on the edge of my figurative seat until justice was served for them. (In Caylee’s case, it never will be, which is beyond infuriating, but again, don’t get me started.)

Fingers on a computer keyboard
(Malashock Dance)

Finally, I’ve been writing my own stories since at least the age of eight, when my parents gave me an electric typewriter. I’ve had eleven pieces of short fiction published in a small literary journal, and I’ve written four (okay, four and a half) unpublished novels that will likely never see the light of day. Writing is hard-coded into my DNA, and it’s going to happen whether anyone reads it or not.

Because I feel so strongly about all of these things, I’ve rolled them all into one passion project that I call “Suffer the Little Children.” Thank you all for reading, supporting, and being a part of it!

-Laine

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