By now everyone has heard about the shooting in the mall at Omaha. That got a little close to home. My heart goes out to all those people who were killed and injured and their families. What a shock.
As most things do, it got me thinking. I wonder as a parent how I would feel to find out my child had done something like this. I can't imagine the shock and horror that would strike you. Even in your childs' worst moments would you ever think they could do something so cruel?
I remember years ago when our youngest son was about ten. He'd been having trouble in school and we had concerns. We suspected (and it was later confirmed) that he had attention deficiet hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Now you hear about it all the time and, to be honest, I think it is over-diagnosed. However, at the time we took our son to a well-respected therapist in town. Well-respected by others. After I got through with him I had zero respect.
I'm no idiot, but this guy made me feel like one. He spent about twenty minutes talking to me first, then fifteen minutes alone with my son, then gave me the ten minute diagnoses. Like I say, the guy tried to make me feel like an idiot. Try being the operative word.
After fifteen minutes with my son he decided we needed to take immediate action. We should be looking for somewhere to put our son for long-term therapy. Why? Because he was going to start killing animals and setting fires. Yeah. Pretty much everyone knows what that means. We were raising a potential serial killer.
Now, I'm not one to ignore a warning… but c'mon.
We ended up discounting the well-respected-therapists' diagnoses and got a second opinion. We took him to University Hospitals in Iowa City where they were doing research into ADHD and had him tested. All day. Not just fifteen minutes. They did several kinds of tests and spent hours getting to know him. Their diagnoses? ADHD. Medication was perscribed (which, as it turned out, made him "feel funny" and after a few months of using it and trying to get the dosage 'just right'… we ended up abandoning and he got along with some learning help – like taking tests in a quiet room).
He's 24 now and I'd love to go show that therapist just how f*cked up he was. My son is the sweetest, kindest, smartest kid… he's getting married in February and hasn't set ONE fire (except what he was supposed to) and of all my animal-loving children, he's the biggest softie of the bunch!
I don't know how to talk to the parents whose children do the horrible things. I don't know what the answer is. I do know you have to listen to them. Really listen. Then? Trust your instincts. If it looks like they're having trouble you have to try and be there for them….oh, and it doesn't all stop when they turn into rebellious teens… or the hands of time turn them into an "adult". They're still your kids. You never stop being a parent. Who else are they going to turn to?