I’m not usually one to post much about current events, but there are always exceptions. By now everyone has heard about the shooting at the elementary school in Connecticut. Details are still a bit sketchy, but from what I can gather the person who committed this horrific massacre suffered from some form of psychological disorder. A few questions go through our minds when we hear of such things: 1. Why did this happen? 2. Who is to blame? 3. Could it have been prevented? There is nothing worse than losing a loved one, especially a child. When a child is murdered, we all feel it. We hold our own children a little tighter and somehow find a little more patience when they spill their cup of milk. As parents and as a society we like to play the blame game, in particular when the person responsible takes their own life. They are no longer there to take full responsibility for their heinous actions. Unfortunately too many times the next person given the burden of blame is the mother. We think “Couldn’t the mother have prevented this from happening?” or “What kind of abuse must that person have endured from their mother to make them do this?” I myself am guilty of this, however my thought patterns have changed since actually becoming a mother. If one of my children commit a crime of any kind, is it really my fault? Of course I would be thinking if there was something I could/should have done differently to change the outcome.
As the mother of a special needs child, it is my responsibility to make sure my child gets all the help that he needs no matter what that might be. Our son has a neurological disorder and also has behavioral issues. At the current moment we are still going through evaluations to pinpoint exactly what is going on with him. I knew early on that there was something “different” about him. Everyone kept telling me he was fine, so as new mother I listened to what everyone else said instead of listening to my “mommy instincts”. It wasn’t until my husband mentioned autism that I finally felt the validation to start the ball rolling on getting him evaluated. Within a week, he was diagnosed with SPD and started occupational therapy the following week. It has done wonders for him and for us. That is just one piece of the puzzle, and eventually the rest will fall into place. The reasoning behind this is not only to make sure he gets the care best suited to him, but also in hopes that with proper care and intervention, we can avoid our child committing horrific crimes. This is not to say that I expect one of our children to become a criminal, but any parent wants to prevent that. If God forbid, one of our children does do something completely awful, I would hate for the general public to automatically point their finger at me. The fact that my child did something so horrible would be punishment enough.
I can’t imagine what the mother of the person who killed all those children and school personnal would be going through right now if she were still alive. I’m sure that she would somehow blame herself, regardless of whether she was actually in any way to blame. That’s just what we do as parents. We blame ourselves for everything. Even if I find out that my son hit another child depsite the fact that I have done everything I can to teach him that hitting is wrong, I would still blame myself and think that somehow I obviously didn’t totally get the message accross to him properly. But there has to be a line drawn. At some point, people have to take responsibility for their actions and we have to stop blaming everyone else. Even if there is a history of abuse, we all make choices. There are plenty of people who suffer through abuse at the hands of their own parents and make wonderful lives for themselves. There are also those who come from perfectly fine homes and still end up messed up.
There has always been this huge debate about nature vs. nurture. There are few people who think that gender is learned rather than inborn. We have two children: a boy and a girl. We have all sorts of toys at our house, everything from cars and trucks to dolls and tea sets. They both play with all of it. Our daughter actually seems to prefer her big brother’s cars and trucks to her own dolls. She takes after me in that regard. I didn’t have an older brother, but I still preferred to play with cars instead of Barbies. Bottom line: people are born with certain traits. Not to say that nurture has nothing to do with it. If I believed that then I wouldn’t be as adamant about staying home to raise our children and homeschooling them. So with that said, not all criminal behavior stems from upbringing. We’re all wired in a certain way and we all react to our situations and surroundings accordingly. I didn’t always make the best choices in life as a teenager and young adult, but I certainly don’t blame my parents. They were MY decisions and mine alone; good, bad, or indifferent. Two things need to happen. We need to stop playing the victim role and we have to stop pointing fingers. Sometimes when people are at their worst is when they need love the most.