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Parents must be involved with children

POSTED: November 10, 2007 5:01 a.m.
It happened again at a school in Cleveland. And a repeat of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting was just prevented in Philadelphia. Horrible, insane, what is this world coming to? But overlooked in the media stories were why this is happening and who is responsible.
We don’t listen to our kids, perhaps out of sheer exhaustion, or our attention is focused elsewhere. In Ohio, overworked school officials didn’t take the threat seriously despite warnings. The student arrested in Philadelphia had a cache of weapons and a live grenade purchased by his mother, who has been arrested. Why have we waited this long to begin holding parents like this mother accountable?
We, as parents, are too often too busy to spend time with, listen to, and guide our kids. Our life’s priorities have become warped. Kids must be at the top of the list, but often they are not. We permit kids to become addicted to violence, as a normative behavior. Violent Gangsta music, video games, movies, and the Internet have become their drugs. To young killers, violence is their real world. They’ve lost touch with their families and society in general.
An example is violent video games, which are addictive and mind altering. Kids are permitted and encouraged to participate in these antisocial activities whose sole goal is to kill, destroy and exterminate. In one of the games the prizes are “bitches.” What does this teach females? Many of these kids never develop socialization skills.
For boys this is a huge issue, because they are taught that expressing feelings is shameful. The violence portrayed in these games is like a junkie’s rush. It has a similar chemical effect in the brain. And junkies always need another fix. The addict feels powerful and important in their addictive state, countering a lackluster life. Naturally, they withdraw further from human contact, just like addicts do into their made up world.
Television, the Internet, and video games make human contact unimportant, expendable, and are addictive distractions for our minds. We disassociate from our feelings, our humanness. In many families, sitting around watching television, “playing” video games, or working on their computers is life. This has replaced relating to each other, and becomes addictive. These distractions are substitutes for intimacy and result in our losing the ability to interrelate as humans.
The new parenting model is actually a form of anarchy, born out of our laziness. Anarchy always breeds contempt! Our kids think, “You don’t care enough to discipline me? You must not care for me then.” Add a violent video game to the mix and we have a sociopath in the making. “Not our little Johnny” you think? Stop fooling yourselves and wake up. View every video game they have. Make your kids show you how they play it. Have them take you through the game’s levels. If the game is unfit, destroy it. Being interested in what they say and do shows you care, even if they protest about it. Part of parenting is facing the objections of our children, which is disagreeable, and many parents will not summon up the courage to face this.
The parents of the shooters are responsible, at a minimum, for neglecting their children, and perhaps for the crimes themselves. Just as ignorance of the law is no excuse, neither is ignorance of your child’s addiction to violent video games, or their antisocial leanings. Parents allow them unsupervised access to addictive activities and weapons, or pretend to be ignorant of it. The excuse many parents offer is they are giving their kids “space.” Children need the room to grow, and desperately need clear boundaries. They will protest, but will feel secure in knowing what is okay and what is not. This assists them in defining their world, an important part of maturing. If we don’t give it to them, their peers will.
Parents buy the games for the kids, or put them in front of the “electronic babysitters” TV, because they are tired or disinterested. Unfortunately, these “babysitters” become role models; as do the gangsta rappers, celebrities, and other insanities our children think of as normal. Our children then try to imitate these “normal” behaviors. Their parents and society as a whole are responsible.
We have a stark choice, to spend money on community centers and education, or on prisons for our kids. Become involved in your child’s life.

Eigen, a psychologist and author, can be contacted via email at david@davideigen.com
 

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