Morbid curiosity caused me to click the link for the article I’ve included under our Oprah Power link heading below. Fear, compassion, and kinship filled my heart as I read Susan Klebold’s words.
Who is Susan Klebold? Does her name sound familiar to you? It should. Her son Dylan was one of the pair that wreaked havoc at Columbine High School in Littleton Colorado 10 years ago.
As I read through her confession tears began to well in my eyes and my chest became tight. I remember where I was when I heard on the news of this terrible tragedy. This hit especially close to me because I lived in Littleton for a while growing up. My sister graduated from Columbine High School. I know the street, the neighborhood and the types of families that live in this suburb of Denver, CO.
As I was reading, it occurred to me that like every mother we always want to be assured that we have done a good job “>raising our children. Especially when things go wrong, others will judge you on how well you parented your children.
I feel the eyes of judgment on me every day. It’s suffocating.
Judgment comes from your neighbors, school teachers, day care providers, coworkers, family, government and even strangers you encounter out in the world. We aren’t free to merely “parent” our children the way we choose. No, we must constantly strive to parent for two purposes: (1) to impress others and (2) to prevent that thing that might go wrong. Blame is always lurking.
I worked with a man whose son was caught masturbating in class. That incident coupled with other inappropriate sexual behavior resulted in the boy’s removal from school. Ultimately he ended up in a juvenile institution through his high school years.
I recall how everyone judged him and his wife. What must be wrong with them that their child would do this? Didn’t they teach him right from wrong? What kind of home must they have? The questions and jokes persisted. I always felt bad for him. He and his family were forever stigmatized. It wasn’t until I became a parent that I could have real empathy for what he must have gone through.
Parenting is not easy. That may be the understatement of the year yet it is the absolute truth. Like Susan, you can do everything “right” and your child can still turn inward and reach all the wrong conclusions about the state of his/her life.
Susan’s article , “I Will Never Know Why” can be accessed under the Oprah Power link below. Her message is one of suicide prevention. She talks openly and passionately about this subject matter. I’m happy to help her spread the word.
However, I also want to point out to my fellow parents that no matter what kind of “job” you do raising your children – YOU ARE NOT IMMUNE FROM TRAGEDY. Your children could have had the picture perfect childhood and still they can become a heroin addict, a thief, a college dropout, a prostitute. They could suffer a terrible accident or be the cause of a terrible accident. We can do our best but at the end of the day, we are not our children. We cannot make their decisions.
Our job as parents is to provide a foundation of core values and a voice through which they can be heard.
We must provide a network of safe environments in which they can thrive and share their intimate thoughts. Maybe they can’t tell us, but there should be at least one responsible person in their life to whom they can turn.
They must know it is okay to say to us, “I’m scared, I’m hurt, I’m lonely,” and someone will be there to help.
We must ask questions and actively engage in their lives.
We must carve out minutes of each day to engage with our children. Technology be damned!
Susan did all of these things yet she had no idea of the depths of her son’s pain. Not until 6 months after he died did she discover how deeply disturbed he had become.
I beg you to read this article and share it with friends, family, coworkers…anyone with children. It may save the life of someone you know.
Oprah Power Link:““I Will Never Know Why”
By Susan Klebold