Parent, Children and Guns

A friend of mine actually sent an email to his friends list last night about his fears that Congress would pass laws on gun control and our right to bear arms would vanish. Silly man. His gun rights won’t vanish. No one is calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment. But our children might.

This morning even Joe Scarborough gave up his position that guns don’t kill people, people do, in favor of his fatherhood. That tells me he’s a leader. I’m a mother and grandmother, stepmother and foster mother. I know what it is like to lead children. And if parents don’t do it, who will?

As a foster mom, I saw mental illness up close and personal. The birth parents of my foster kids were drug addicts. The father committed suicide. Not only did they abdicate their responsibilities to lead their children, they didn’t even feed them regularly.

The oldest child ran away from home. The second oldest went to prison, with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder that went untreated. The next one down had attachment disorder and helped her boyfriend rob my home. Later, she stole my identity. The youngest, still a drifter, has no work ethic.

There’s a somewhathappy ending to their story, because I stepped in and exerted my leadership over their lives, just as I did with my own children. I literally rescued them to the point where they are all taxpayers, mothers and fathers, determined not to treat their own children with the disregard lavished on them.

Poor kids, you think. That would never happen in MY community. Oh yes it will. Too many parents do not exert leadership. Sandy Hook was not a poor minority community we can forget about because it is not us. It CAN happen here. As Scarborough said, “the trail of violence will end at your home.”

Adolescent boys and girls are subjected to too many stereotypes of violence. They think all the stuff they see in video games and movies is cool, and they don’t understand the finality, the meaning, and impact of death. My foster sons loved all those songs and movies about “gangsters” who used Glock-9s. Adam Lanza loved his computer. Parents must exert some influence over what their children see and do. On TV, in the movies, in video games.

We are going to find that the Lanza family was complicit in its own demise. Of course people don’t feel comfortable acknowledging that their kids are mentally ill. But if they don’t acknowledge the problem, and they blame it on the school being inappropriate, then who is left to lead? If not adults, then who? Adam Lanza’s mother had acknowledged it, but then there’s the next problem: What resources are there for parents with mentally ill children? Very few.

In this case, although there had been a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, Mrs. Lanza had guns in the house with a disturbed child. Because, poor woman, she believed, like every parent, that it wouldn’t happen to her, or in her house. She thought she was doing the right thing by sharing her love of guns with her sons.

But there’s a time to share things with your children, be their friend and participate in their activities, and a time to lead them. I try to put myself in the shoes of the parents who lost kids. I would not want to go on. I would not see a meaning to life. They probably WERE trying to lead.

So, like most things in life, there’s not a simple answer. We need a systems approach: partly gun and ammunition controls, partly mental health resources, partly better leadership training for parents, partly an end to our violent entertainment culture.

What we sure don’t need is someone, even a friend of mine, firing off an email full of the old cliches about the Second Amendment, written 200 years before the invention of automatic rifles.

 
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