In the news right now there is lots being said about kids who have done terrible things. The recent shootings in Santa Barbara by Elliot Rodger are just one example. On the CNN website his parents are described as “living in hell” since the event.
There are other examples also. Edward Snowden’s father is at a loss to describe the motives of his son. And whether we think Snowden a hero or villain we can only imagine his father’s confusion and anxiety over what comes next.
We so often say that “the apple does not fall far from the tree” and to some degree that is true. Kids usually turn out like their parents. But it is not uncommon that dangerous kids come from good parents. Kids sometimes do things that a parent cannot imagine where the idea came from.
So when a kid does something criminal should we blame the parent? And the answer is no, at least not all the time. Sure if parents neglect, abuse or give only bad example to their kids, the kids have a good chance of having real problems in the future. They can become bad parents themselves, who have difficulty with relationships.
But often parents do everything right. They are loving, supportive, understanding, and yet their child just becomes someone they don’t really understand or know. This can be the result of mental illness or some other maladjustment in the child that leads to this behavior.
I know of one family with two boys, and one has followed the usual path to success with school, friends and family. The other was a thief at an early age, and despite love and support of his family he has ended up in prison. Another family I know has three children and two have turned out like their parents, responsible, productive and supportive of others. The third is without direction, cannot get any traction to start his life and is now an adult completely unlike the rest of his family. I am sure each of you could add to this list.
The point is we need to show love and support for all dads and moms. When we hear of a tragedy or of someone going astray we should not blame the parents. And as difficult as it is if we are the parents of the kid who goes astray, we must not blame ourselves. Of course we should always examine our behavior, and if we have not fulfilled our obligation as a parent then take responsibility and make amends.
Being a dad is not easy duty. It is important to be the best dad you can be, however things can happen that were beyond your control. We must have respect for ourselves and our vocation as a dad and show that same respect for other dads as well.