When I first learned of the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut at an elementary school, I will admit that my initial response was to store it away, along with the another recent shooting in Clackamas, Oregon at a mall. I planned to categorize it with the growing number of other similar events; another young man walking into an unsuspecting location and killing so many innocent people, for reasons we may never know. In order to survive, I have to do this. I have to store it away, because I can’t make sense of any of it.
It just seems that this type of event occurs more and more often these days…senseless, random, mass killings. It’s now become a part of American society. It also seems so very different from mass killings around most of the world. America’s events seem to revolve around personal vendettas; they were bullied, they were mentally ill, they were victims themselves, they were acting out of their own selfish desire. It’s hard to comprehend these events, in any place in our world, but it’s harder to not ask ourselves what is happening. Are these the results of desensitization with violent movies and games, unregulated gun control, or lack of parenting skills? Why is this becoming such a growing problem in our country? How can we end this pattern?
It was only a few weeks ago that I drove home from a work event with some colleagues. Our conversation eventually fell to parenting. One of my colleagues, only recently married, has no children. The other, married many years, has middle and high school age children. Myself, married many years as well, has children out of high school. At some point the topic of needing other parents to help us out – by telling us what are kids are up to – came about. After some discussion we all agreed that, “It takes a village to raise a child”. We meant it! But really…what should this look like?
I’ve been the parent that has called another parent to inform them that their child has done something they shouldn’t have done. I’ve had that event turn quite volatile, and sadly destroy whatever section of that village I had hoped to have help raise my child. I’ve also been the parent who has received a call from another parent to inform me that my child has done something they shouldn’t have done. It’s humbling. It’s embarrassing. It’s also very needed.
This is what it boils down to; in today’s world there seems to be a need to look as if we are all doing things perfectly; drive nice cars, buy nice clothes, let kids do what they want. Everything is supposed to appear perfect. The new American Dream. In my opinion…irresponsible parenting seems to be something to add to our fiscal cliff, our housing crisis, our obesity issues…all of it. Sometimes parent’s are afraid of their kids, sometimes parents are ashamed of their kids, sometimes parent are baffled by their kids. So what do the parents do? They look away, because it’s easier. It’s easier to take a quick fix, or save face in the moment instead of having to take the long, hard road of tough love.
Yes, it’s hard to be the bad guy in parenting. Yes, there may be screaming and fighting. Yes, your kid may even run away because they hate your rules. Yes, your parenting may look ridiculous to others who are “lax”. But as a parent, knowing that you did all you could and fought the hard battle for your child is what you want. These kids are our future and we can’t raise them alone.
Be open-minded if you get that call from another parent, listen to the situation. Seek help if you are at your wit’s end or can’t afford help. If it’s a serious situation…do not give up, do not worry about how you will look to others. ASK FOR HELP. I also say…ask for help if you know others who need help and can’t get it themselves. We network for jobs; my God… network for your children.
When details of Newtown’s events began to unfold in the media, I began to cry. I thought of what my children would have been doing at that age in their classrooms. I remembered the holiday parties, the decorating, the homemade gifts they made. I felt far too connected to the losses of these families. They should have their children with them right now. They should have their children be able to wake up tomorrow. They should have the chance to make and receive phone calls to keep their children out of trouble.
Maybe this growing trend of killing innocent people in our society has nothing to do with how we parent, but coming together has to be able to end it. We have to stand up to this new trend. We have to speak out when things don’t feel right. We have to look to others to help make change. Taking that stance of “It takes a village…” needs to go beyond just parenting.
As I write this, the media now reports that 20 children were killed. Countless others have been affected though, some forever. As the president spoke and paused to compose himself (to keep from further weeping), I realized…this event has to bring about a change. This isn’t right. Our president is moved to tears. How many times has that even happened? Tonight I fall to my knees in prayer; begging for salvation for our world, hoping that we will come together as one large village and help raise us all.