Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuscon Shooting and the Parents Behind the Murderer

My heart is breaking for the parents of the man accused of the massacre in Arizona.  In many ways I can relate to what they must be feeling.  Can you imagine finding out that your child, the one you raised, the one you did your very best to help be a good person, made the decision to commit such a heinous act? 

I have 2 children who have mental health issues.  With both kids I have had to work hard to get them the necessary help to learn the tools necessary to function in society.  I've prayed without ceasing for all of my babies.  I've done everything I can, and will continue to do everything I can, to make sure they don't end up as statistics.  But what if... what if with all my efforts, with all my pleading, with all my interference... something still goes wrong?  What if my child who doesn't have any mental health issues decides to one day make a decision that will forever change her life and that of others? 

I've been reading some of the latest news articles where "friends" and neighbors are giving their opinion of this mans parents.  One "friend" even found it necessary to let reporters know what he thinks he remembers frequently seeing in their shopping cart.  Another "friend" commented on how the mother didn't make a point of engaging her in conversations while running errands.  A neighbor described how he felt the family was too private, they even went so far as to plant lots of bushes.   Are you serious?  Are you friggin kidding me?  I hope that if my grown child decides to act out inappropriately that my friends and neighbors don't find it necessary to smear me in the media.  Because guess what?  I buy things you may deem unnecessary.  I don't always make small talk with people I know (or barely know).  And sometimes I actually avoid people I know because I have things I need to be doing.  We also planted lots of greenery in our yard to keep neighbors and any passersby from being able to see every move we make. We like having privacy.  Those choices will not make a damn difference in what my children do with their lives.

This young man was 22 years old.  Any right his parents had to interfere with his mental health treatment flew out the window when he turned 18.  And I can promise you that the services they could have gotten him when he was younger were few and far in between.  I know this because of the battle that it takes to get my own children help.  These parents didn't have a right to speak to his Doctors, and if he wasn't threatening his life or that of others, then they couldn't force him to be hospitalized.  And even if they could force a hospitalization, once he got out it would have been up to him to refill and take his meds.  This person was sick.

Could his parents have done more?  Did they turn a blind eye?  Did they ignore blaring signs?  I can't answer that.  I don't know what they did or didn't do to help him.  And you know what?  I don't need them to tell me.  They didn't buy a gun, then buy ammunition, then go and open fire on innocent people.  And it's important to remember that they are grieving too.  They will now carry with them more guilt then most of us will ever know.  Their son killed people.  Can you IMAGINE that guilt?  Can you IMAGINE having to look people in the face knowing it was YOUR child that caused their pain?  Regular mommy guilt is nothing compared to this.  They will forever wonder "What if?".  They will play his life over and over and question every single bit of it and beat themselves up over what they should have done differently.  Their son didn't just take the lives of strangers that day, he took the lives of his parents with him too.

So before you judge these parents, you better start judging yourself.  Because if we are going to crucify them because of their son, then you better be ready for it to happen to you.  I can promise you this, even the best parents have the potential to raise a murderer.    

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