Recent school violence has prompted questions swirling around adolescent boys, discipline and the availability of guns. These conversations miss the point that adolescent boys, a lack of discipline and the availability of guns all have one thing in common. Each, in its own way, comes out of a context.
Adolescent boys don’t magically show up in our high schools as violent killers. Parents have dropped the ball when it comes to exercising authority in their children’s lives because it takes more effort and investment than just letting them develop on their own. Is it any wonder that non-invested parents result in disconnected adolescents? The lack of personal and parental authority in parents shows up in adolescents who are directionless and have no concept of personal identity let alone responsibility.
Indulgent mothers and absentee fathers create an emotionally abusive and functionally neglectful cocktail of shame, resentment and helplessness in children to know how to even start having relationships of worth and value with other people. This lack of personal and parental authority in parents is the beginning point for correcting what is a generational problem in families today. The violence in our schools erupts from the path-of-least-resistance mentality adopted by parents who don’t discipline their children today. This is the context from which adolescent males emerge and commit great acts of violence.
The lack of discipline in children is also the result of parent’s not understanding human development in its most basic form. From birth to two-years-old, meeting a child’s every want and need is a function of loving that child. The transition from meeting a child’s every want and need because parents love their child to telling him or her NO because parents love them must occur around this two-year-old stage of development.
Unfortunately, again because of a lack of personal and parental authority parents continue to indulge their children for a variety of reasons. As a result, children learn that loving them means parents and others should only and always meet their every want and need. Parents have failed to make the transition that loving their children means telling them NO as an answer because they love their children, not because they don’t love them. This indulgent mentality sets the stage for two-year-old fits in adolescents with profound implications for society.
Finally, the availability of guns in the context of such abject parental neglect and adolescent entitlement provides the stage for acting out the two-year-old fit in adolescence. Guns are the tools of rage and helplessness that emerge from years of neglect, indulgence and entitlement for lashing out and having a deadly change effect in other’s lives. The conversation surrounding gun violence must incorporate parental authority, adolescent entitlement and personal emptiness. Solutions to quell societal violence begin with personal and parental authority in parents, recognition that discipline is a function of loving children, telling them NO as an answer instead of indulging them and personally investing in children’s lives through valuing them as people with worth and value. As parents recognize that their children will only master adversity as responsibly as they have, perhaps these parents will exercise personal and parental authority.