Last Friday's Sandy Hook Elementary massacre gripped me, and saddened me.
Issues of gun control is front and center of a national debate, discussion of mental health intensifies. As a parent I think more about what parents can do.
The killer killed his own mother first! The anger and hatred he had toward his mom must had simmered for some time to reach the boiling point. He then killed 20 6-year old innocent boys and girls and 6 school teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary. Why did he kill them? unfathomable! I will wait for official discovery of his motives.
For teenagers and youth, because of their developmental stages, they tend to be easily frustrated with parents, authority and society, they tend to be easily stressed out due to various reasons, they might be easily irritated and be angry .....
Channel of Relief
First and foremost, we should consciously and purposely provide teenagers a channel of relief - allow them to vent, listen to them, help them to identify causes of frustrations, anger and stress. It is actually a good thing that teenagers vent in front of parents.
More often than not, they don't talk to parents at all, they let their frustration simmer - but parents should be able to tell from their easy irritation, anger over trivial things, and tantrum. We need to probe the causes of the symptoms via whatever communications we can have. The communication to identify the causes of frustrations is a channel of relief - sometimes merely talking through the issues help teenagers to resolve their problems.
Mental disorder is a taboo for most parents. Many parents don't even want to speculate about the possibility of mental disorder even when extreme behaviors persist. When we can not resolve issues for our children, we need professional helps.
Be persuasive, Not pushy
In my circle of life, many parents have great expectation of their children. Many times, parents push their children, especially middle schoolers, high schoolers, very hard for academic excellence. This is a major stress for teenagers.
My position has always been that parents should help to plan, to organize, to improve, to ...but the drive to excellence has to come within. Otherwise the journey to excellence will be a stressful, frustrated process, and the force-acquired excellence will not last long.
My other opinion is that let them be what they can be, not what we want them to be, set realistic goals and expectation. When children do not reach their potential, parents should help to connect their goals/expectation to their current efforts, persuade them to work harder, not to push.
I could maintain my emotion when news of massacre came, be it be Virginia Tech, Oregon Mall or movie theater at Colorado. But this time when I watched the news on TV, read the stories in the newspaper, that 6 year old school children were killed in their classrooms made my tears flow, my heart broken. I could not bare to imagine the sorrow of their mothers and fathers.