Don't Judge Other Parents Because Your Kid May Be the Next Big Newsmaker

News headlinesTeenagers have been making bad decisions — and making the news — a whole heck of a lot here lately. Murdering folks. Selling drugs. Running scams. Doing sexual things in unthinkable places. Just all kinds of things to make us stop and say, “Phew, that goodness that isn’t my child.”

For many of us on the other side of headline-making stories, there’s a tendency to do plenty of tsk tsk tsking and finger wagging at not only the kids at fault, but the parents behind the crimes. They’re not doing their job. Their children have no values. They should’ve been teaching them better. That’s a whole heap of idealistic nonsense.

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As members of the general public formulating our opinions and speculations from the information that the press feeds us, we shower shame-on-yous on two people most of us doing the commenting wouldn’t know if they knocked on our front doors. We can draw conclusions and make assumptions — heck, I’m guilty of doing it all the time myself — but at the base of it all, we don’t know how those people are operating their households. For the most part, we don’t know what kind of ethics and morals they are or are not raising their children with.

But I do know that it’s very possible for kids who come from solid homes with active fathers and conscientious mamas to get caught doing really stupid things just like the teenagers making up the lead stories on the 6:00 news did. That’s scary thing #4,567 about being a parent.

We like to think we know what our children are capable of doing, and it never stretches beyond that little mental comfort zone, the one that reassures us that our kids do in fact hear our whispered voices whenever they’re confronted with the opportunity to do wrong. Of course Ronnie wouldn’t steal. You taught him better than to be a thief. Of course little Keisha wouldn’t beat up another girl with a group of her friends. You raised her to be kind and civilized. Of course Manuel wouldn’t snort a line or pop a pill. You’ve lectured about drugs a gazillion times.

I’m sure parents of all the Amber Coles and Amber Wrights out there felt fully confident that their children wouldn’t have done what they did and become overnight internet celebrities for doing it, either.
 
We can’t get lulled into a false set of beliefs that our children aren’t susceptible to making certain mistakes. Tuck that “not my child” attitude away. Peer pressure is a beast and, coupled with other conditions that may not be as obvious, like low self-esteem and lagging self-confidence and fear of not being part of the cool crowd, it can spill over into combustible situations.

Even with all of our positive reinforcement at home, even with all of our surrounding them with inspirational and empowering influences, they can still fall flat into horrifying circumstances. We can only hope that their slip-ups are more like an expugnable shoplifting charge than a hardcore assault rap. In writing this, I realize how dismal and depressing even thinking about anticipating our kids’ foul-ups sounds. It’s not that I think all kids are potential killers and rapists and pillagers. It’s just that I don’t think we should lean back on our holier-than-thou high horses and ridicule those people dealing with it when those people could very well be just like us.

Are parents of newsmakers responsible for their kids’ actions or do they get a bad rap?


Image via christopher.woo/Flickr

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