Parenting the Hard Way

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?

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Middle-aged. Anti-social. Mom. Grandma. Town-raised farmer's wife. Iowan. Want more? Come read the blogs.

13 thoughts on “Parenting the Hard Way”

  1. i wouldn’t know what to say to the parents of those kids either…because there is a different kind of sorrow there, right? i feel for them and for the kid, honestly. they are a kid afterall and each one of them deserves to be helped.

    good post, sue.

  2. A similar shooting happened up here in Latteland a year or so ago. My granddaughter was working in a Gamestop at the mall at the time. There are a lot more people that are traumatized than just the shooting victims,

    How do you explain this kind of behavior?

    So much self-involved anger.

  3. It’s so very sad. For the families of the people who died, for those who were there and felt helpless and have to deal with the aftermath, for the family of the young man who did this. One person has managed to “take out” a wide swath of people with this act.

    I wish there were some simple answers. Of course if there were, we could have solved this after it happened one time.

  4. to try to understand this is truly, fruitless. the only thing i can do as a parent is pay attention to my kids and give them the love they need. and pray real hard that they don’t do anything so insane.

    it’s truly a horrible situation.

  5. More often than not, moms know best. I too had some serious run-ins with doctors, and learned that not all are to be trusted.

    A tragedy like the shooting in Omaha has a ripple effect. There are so many layers of victims. So often, people forget that the first responders (police, fire, EMS) end up being traumatized too. Seeing so many victims at once, so much blood, being so helpless. It’s what makes PTSD so prevalent among all of us.

    About the only thing one can say to the parents of someone like the Omaha shooter is “I’m so sorry.”

  6. Lordy, I heard a woman describing what was going on inside and it sickened me. Sickened.

    From what I understand this guy was a ward of the state after bouncing from foster home to foster home in his young life. Not at all an excuse but another pondering from me as to why certain people can be blessed with healthy children when they don’t want them…(sigh)

  7. I do think that parents know best, but only when they take the time to really step back and care for their child. I think in most of the cases like this Omaha shooting, once the stories start coming out, the home life isn’t always what we’d call normal.

    I would think that it woudl take more than 15 minutes to diagnose a child and call them a potential fire-starter or serial killer. Good thing you had the smarts to go get a second opinion — I wonder how many other kids are being treated for the wrong thing because they just took the initial diagnosis at face value?

  8. That was a horrible thing, and it’s happening more frequently all the time. From what I have heard about the kid, he was kicked out of his home when he was fifteen for threatening his mom. I didn’t know that he had been in several foster homes. I thought one report said that he had lived with the last family for the past four years. Clearly, he had some serious emotional problems which his own family should have tried to address. He had a stepfather, and there was turmoil in his home. I know they said that the state had spent $265, 000 on him, and I am assuming that they were talking about his mental health. No matter, there is no good excuse for such a heinous thing, and too many people are suffering as a result.

  9. i am very grateful that so far the only somewhat crazy thing my child has done is put my underwear on his head and dance around in my highheels. but i guess since he’s only 4 there’s still time. 😉

    This was a great post, Sue. Your son sounds like a great person! You done good, Mom! I’d love to stick it to that know it all smart ass doctor!! 🙂

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