Killer Parenting
Killer Parenting
Scott Dunlop

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?

I can’t 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 Facebook photos.

So why do we think we have the right to blame his parents?

All 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.

Even more 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.

But here, 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.

What we’re 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.

Will our 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.

Have you ever been judged for your parenting? Why not chatback@parent24.com">share your storywith us and you could win a R250 kalahari.comvoucher.

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