As a photographer, Heather Whitten has a knack for spotting beauty -- sometimes in the most unlikely of places. When her husband simultaneously tried to calm and clean their sick son, Heather saw beauty in the tender moment. Not everyone feels the same way, however. And her photo where the devoted dad cradled his sick son in the shower has stirred up quite a bit of controversy!
Credit: Heather Whitten via Global News
Sick Little Boy
Any parent can relate to the feeling of utter desperation when a little one is sick. So when Heather's nearly 1-year-old son, Fox, became violently ill, she and her husband were desperate to do anything to help him feel better.
The little boy had a fever and couldn't stop getting sick. He kept alternating between vomit and diarrhea. Later that night, they'd take Fox to the hospital and learn he suffered from salmonella. But at the time, Heather and her husband, Thomas, were trying anything to make him feel better.
Both Fox and his father were covered in sick. So finally, the dad cradled his sick son in the shower. It was an effort to clean him up, but the hot shower also soothed the poor boy.
The tender moment hit Heather hard.
“As I sat in the shower with the two of them I was just overwhelmed with the scene in front of me. This man. This husband and partner and father," Heather wrote on Facebook. "He was so patient and so loving and so strong with our tiny son in his lap. His whispers of reassurance to Fox, that he would be ok and that Thomas would take care of him were so steady and so honest.”
Capturing The Moment
In these types of moments, many of us take mental snap shots. But Heather's a photographer. So she pulled out her camera.
“I document our family just how we are. I kind of see something and I just grab my camera,” she says.
But when Heather shared the story on social media, the photo was flagged as inappropriate and removed by the site. Many didn't take the time to read the story behind the photo, but rather just took issue with the fact that father and son were unclothed. What's interesting is a similar photo of a mom and child in the shower previously went viral sans the controversy.
Heather was deeply bothered by the controversy. To her, the touching moment showed “it is okay to get naked with your son and nurture him ... the important thing is really taking care of your kiddos.”
When Heather re-shared the photo with the social media site, explaining the reason the picture was so powerful, the site agreed. The picture was re-instated, with more than 170,000 likes and 38,000 shares.
While there will always be those that consider Heather's photo to be oversharing, the are plenty who take it for a touching moment between a father and son.
"It was just beautiful," Heather said. "It was not surprising or anything out of the ordinary; it’s how he has always been with the kids.”
And Heather also says the picture is an important memento for her son. While Thomas has a close relationship with all of their children, this experience created a special bond between him and Fox.
“I think it would be really powerful to show my son [the picture of] him vulnerable and wrapped up in his father’s arms,” Heather says. "The photo shows 'this is the kind of man that your father is' and I hope that [Fox] will see that and never be ashamed or embarrassed by it.”
So often moms get all the attention for being the nurturers. But a loving father is equally important. What a treasured memory for this family!
"Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him." Psalm 103:13