In the news
there are loads of stories about the horrifying actions of a young man that
posted angry, threatening videos before going on a killing spree. Although
Elliot Rodger declared that his intentions were to kill the girls who had
rejected him, commentators are labelling him a spoilt brat, a man whose
pampered childhood led to his inability to value human life, including his own.
While it would appear that he certainly did have a privileged upbringing, I
wonder if perhaps his parents are being unfairly judged- what if their
parenting had nothing to do with their son’s homicidal rage?
infer that the fact that he drove a luxury car or that he got to hang out with
movie industry people prove parental neglect. I have never observed his family
having dinner or listened in on their telephone calls. I am not a
psychologist, so I can’t “diagnose” personality disorders based on the man’s
So why do
we think we have the right to blame his parents?
criminals were once kids. That simple fact does not imply anything about their
parents. Some parents mistreat their kids, and there could well be
psychological damage which leads to those kids acting out in anti-social ways,
but, for most of us, allowing our kids to eat junk food now and then or stay up
occasionally to watch TV will not send them spiralling into a life of crime.
And yet we
can have this nagging fear that if we don’t check those manners, teach our kids
to respect others and tidy up after themselves then we’ll be responsible for
anything they do as adults.
than the concern that we have for our own kids is the fear that other parents
will judge us. And they will. So it’s a pretty pointless fear that makes us
keep our dirty little parenting secrets.
in our mad little online world we get to confess all of our parenting misdoings
and disasters. We have a chance to tell each other what we think we’ve done
wrong and learn from each other some tips for doing things differently. We
don’t have to pretend that our houses are in OCD-perfect order in the way
previous generations did. Sure, they perfected the stiff upper lip of courage
in the face of trouble, but they also packed their cupboards with skeletons.
sharing is pretty special. It’s intimate and personal. It keeps the skeletons
rattling around where everyone can see rather than hiding in the closet and
holding us hostage to unfounded fears.
kids turn out to be criminals? Let’s hope not. In the meantime, we can learn to
withhold judgement of other parents (and ourselves) and become better at
encouraging one another.
I like the
attitude of the father of one of Rodger’s victims; he said he wanted to meet
with the young man’s father since they both lost their sons in the course of
the tragic events.
ever been judged for your parenting? Why not email@example.com">share your storywith us and you could win a R250 kalahari.comvoucher.