Chris at Historicus: Religion in Schools Wouldn’t Prevent Mass Shootings, in which he comments on Mike Huckabee’s inane analysis and offers a look at the real history of American civic and political life before institutionally-led prayer was banned in schools. Two Buck Huck upped the ante over the weekend, BTW. According to Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon, “There you have it. It wasn’t a mentally ill lunatic with easy access to military grade weaponry that caused one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. It was “abortion pills,” iPhones, evolution and homosexuals.”
Joel Achenbach at the Washington Post, on the life of the murderer of Newtown, Conn: “Slowly, amid rumor and misinformation, a picture of the killer is emerging, and it is dismayingly familiar. Adam Lanza was yet another young, withdrawn, middle-class male who for some unimaginable reason graduated from his adolescence as a mass murderer.”
Some readers have taken issue with my previous post, and I welcome your frank evaluations. As a feminist blogger, I was reluctant to write about the questions I have about parenting, gender, and in particular the strangely enabling relationship I have seen among some mothers and their teenaged sons in the past 15 years or so (the course of my professional career) which seem to reflect some of the issues that may have been at work in the home of the Newtown, Conn. mass murder. Of course, one major story line we’ll see is that the mother was to blame, just as mothers everywhere are blamed with pretty much everything. But, of course, this may be true sometimes. (It seems to be literally true in that the murderer’s mother was the legal owner of an enormous home arsenal, so it is true in that we know that her guns were used to kill her, 6 other women, 12 girls, and 8 boys.)
I admit that I have zero expertise in mental health or mental illness issues, behavioral psychology, or family counseling. I admit that the post attempting to connect some of my observations about the differences I have observed about teenaged and young adult men and women on the one hand to the oddly isolated murderer and his mother was half-baked and perhaps better left unpublished.
However: I will take a personal stand on one thing, and that is that I believe parenting matters in the lives of children and young adults. It is not the only thing, but I think it is probably the most important thing, at least until young adults leave home. This is based on my observation of a generation of college students as well as more recent intermittent experience with classrooms of younger children. Admittedly, this is mostly a hunch. Maybe it’s a comforting belief now, a falsely comforting one, because I can say with great assurance that I would never make the choices the mother of the mass murderer made, as can most of you, I am sure. But I still believe that parenting matters, and that parents are responsible for the environment and the boundaries they draw while raising their children. Maybe they don’t work in all cases–we’ve all read stories about children with attachment disorders and severe forms of mental illness that make their parents’ lives a heartache. But I think that in most cases, parenting really matters.