Are parents to blame?
When a tragedy like the Norway killings happens, should we look to the killer’s childhood?
The Telegraph’s Katherine Birbalsingh makes an interesting argument for Anders Breivik’s killing spree in Norway.
She suggests that the killer’s apparent lack of remorse after killing dozens of people can be traced back to Anders’ childhood. Apparently he was subjected to abandonment and a nasty custody battle involving his father’s attempt to take Anders with him to Paris. The author of the piece is clearly of the opinion that Anders’ father, Jens, has a lot to answer for.
And I agree, to a point! It is every parent’s duty, whether they wanted the kid or not, to do their damndest to be there for the kid, in all areas, emotional, spiritual, educational, financial etc. But in the end there really is only so much you can do.
Granted, Jens had not spoken to his son since he was 16 years old. But to proportion a considerable lump of guilt because of the actions of the father is in my opinion rather harsh.
I have very little sympathy for absent parents, especially fathers. However, if we’re going to blame anyone we have to look at the entire system, schools, society, media, every little thing that afflicted Anders.
Clearly societies all over the world fail in providing support for every disturbed kid, it does not matter if its Norway or the US, there are cracks in every society.
And what about Amy Winehouse?
The other headline in recent days was the demise of Amy Winehouse. Apparently she left 16 million dollars behind. Who do we blame for her self destruction? Her parents? Her boyfriend who introduced her to drugs? Society?
These two individuals knew enough to keep themselves alive for a considerable amount of time of the adult lives. Which implies that they knew the basics of what is right and what is wrong, or what’s good for them or bad for them.
Amy knew she was drugging herself into oblivion and that she might die as a result, as I’m sure Anders knew that firing a weapon at an individual would in fact end that person’s life.
We, each and everyone of us, have issues, good or bad that we inherit from our parents, however, there comes an opportunity in all of our lives when we reach adulthood, where we realise that something is missing or needed, and we can in fact make the decision to rectify it or try to remedy the imbalance. The decision to forego the option to do something about it is squarely the individual’s.
I’d be very surprised if Amy and Anders never once had a moment in their lives when they thought ‘something’s not right about what I’m thinking or doing, let me try to do something about it.’
All the headlines around Anders now claim that he is insane. While that may be so, he has said in court that he realises that his actions caused the death of the victims. He - and he alone - is responsible for his actions.
As parents and societies and support groups etc, we can only do so much. There will never be enough good parenting or good societies to catch and help all the dysfunctional individuals that are by-products of this dynamic world we live in.
However, having said that, as parents we have a non-negotiable responsibility to do our best to give our kids a balanced and healthy platform to springboard them into adulthood.
RIP to the victims.
Read more by Marlon Abrahams
Should parents be blamed for their adult children’s actions?
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