TERRY MORRIS writes:
Everything you and your commenters have mentioned as factors in the Adam Lanza case all involve one, inescapable fact: parental neglect. All of it, including the drugs, the violent video game playing, and the issue of protecting him from negative consequences of his own misbehavior involve parental neglect.
As to the last in that list, watch a few documentaries about famous American serial killers and you will see that this is very common among them – their parents were always running interference for them everytime they got themselves into the slightest trouble with authorities as children, and even into adulthood. But I’m one of those no-nonsense kinds of parents who believe with all my being that even so-called “child safety locks” – those gadgets many, many parents mindlessly place on their lower cabinet doors to prohibit their children from getting into them – are, ultimately, psychologically damaging to children.
Jill Farris in the previous entry makes good points about Lanza’s upbringing that are worth repeating here:
The “details that are emerging” (a phrase repeated in every news story) on Adam Lanza’s life seem to be common to many boys growing up today. The boys were very smart, their parents divorced and they were “deeply troubled” by it. The killer spent a lot of time alone – alone in a big house with a stay-at-home mother who seemed to spend little time with him.
The neighbors and friends all gushed over how “nice” the mother was. The killer, apparently, had learning problems to the point of being labeled with Aspergers. Aspergers (like many other labels) is a way for “health professionals” (like psychiatrists) to bill the insurance companies. Yes, there are definite behaviors that children with Aspergers have in common, but some of those behaviors are common to many children from divorced homes and very “nice” mothers.
Why do I harp on the “nice” mother reference that keeps popping up in news stories? Because some of the nicest mothers I know are really bad, neglectful mothers. Sure, they don’t beat their children to a pulp or call them ugly names but they neglect them. Often, they neglect them in fancy homes where the children are all alone.
If the news stories are even bordering on truth, why do so many accounts say that folks in the community never saw the boy? Even women who played a regular card game with Mrs. Lanza for many years never saw him? Seriously?
Also, how “nice” is she to let her kid entertain himself alone in his bedroom for hours on end? As the mother of teens with their own laptops, I’m not very nice when I kick their lazy hineys out of their rooms and check to see what they are watching on their computers. I’m not nice, but I’m being a good mother.
—- Comments —–
Elaborating on his point about child-safety locks, Terry Morris writes:
Parenting, as you well know, and if done right, is a very difficult, time-consuming process. Child-safety gadgets interfere with the process by making it impossible for children to get into cabinets where danger might be lurking. Well now, is there a law that says harmful chemicals and/or dangerous utensils have to be stored within reach of small, toddling children? Of course there isn’t. Duh!
People who use these devices are missing out on some great, great teaching opportunities. But you have to be dedicated to good parenting first and foremost. I’ve even planted such things as pepper shakers in lower cabinets after I’ve said “no” to a particularly ‘strong willed’ child for getting into a cabinet. Once they’ve felt the severe yet momentary discomfort of getting pepper into their eyes, and I’m saying to them, “I told you not to get in there because it will hurt you,” as I’m rinsing their eyes out, the proverbial light comes on in their little brains – “Dad knows what he’s talking about; he’s just trying to protect me.” I know, I know, it is a pretty sinister way of gaining their trust, but it works without fail.
Such a flood of memories when I read Mr. Morris’s comments about neglectful parenting. My mother went one better to describe the whole safety-lock, pad-all-the-corners style of parenting: child abuse.
My parents had some friends who had three sons, all relatively close in age. They were often referred to as a group, and I’ll refer to them here as “the Smith boys.” My mother occasionally would vent her frustration at the way their mother was bringing them up. “Mrs. Smith” was always going to bat for her sons, whether it was school/teacher problems, neighborhood issues, and eventually, conflicts with employers. She absolutely wouldn’t believe that her sons could be guilty of any wrong.
The Smith boys could never hold on to a job, and disliked taking instruction from their bosses. They were crazy about sports, and participated in a number of them. The middle son showed the most talent, especially at baseball, but it never went anywhere, and there were problems with coaches. I don’t know if he just finally accepted that he wasn’t Major League quality, or if he simply got bored with the sport entirely, and moved on to something else.
To sum it up, the Smith boys never became the Smith men. The older one fought clinical depression a good deal, the middle son I’ve described above had at least one child, though he never married. The youngest had a pretty cheerful personality, and was actually kind of fun to be around. But he couldn’t seem to stay in school, though I heard from my mother that he did eventually get married. I’d be surpised if any one of them was now supporting himself.
It was this kind of parenting, resulting in such stunted development, that would make my parents just shake their heads. And it’s what my mother called “a very special kind of child abuse,” because it’s selfishness and laziness masquerading as ultra-concern for one’s children.
Now, these boys never did grow up to become shoot ‘em up criminals, to the best of my knowledge. But the chaos that results from neglectful parenting can be very far reaching, nonetheless. Decent society pays dearly, oh yes it does.
What Brenda describes is very common today. And she’s right. Parents overindulge their children out of selfishness and laziness.
Perfesser Plum writes:
Take everything evil in human history, every iconic villain, every sin and character defect of our mournful species; squeeze them into one body and soul, and you get the modern mass killer of children in the guise of a young adult.
Take the vanity and envy of Cain who would kill over a supposed slight; the arrogance and rage of Ahab who would take everyone with him; the crafty plotting of Iago; the ego-maniacism and implacable blood thirst of Saint-Just; the torturer who uses machines both to kill and to distance himself from his victims; the scrawny coward-punk — Bill Ayers — who sees himself as smarter than everyone else, and will kill to prove it; and finally, a deformed Richard III, who says,
The midwife wondered, and the women cried,
“O Jesus bless us, he is born with teeth!”
And so I was, which plainly signified
That I should snarl and bite and play the dog.
Then, since the heavens have shaped my body so,
Let hell make crooked my mind to answer it.
I have no brother, I am like no brother;
And this word “love,” which graybeards call divine,
Be resident in men like one another
And not in me: I am myself alone. [Act V, Scene VI]
Lanza is an emblem of modern liberalism, from the French Revolution to the present. The counselors, social workers, and psychologists who normalized or didn’t see his insanity, or who treated him with client-centered therapy (rather than with closed ward and Thorazine), weren’t simply deluded about what he and his kind are and will surely do. They were of the same breed.