Monday, November 16, 2009

What if they did everything right?

The other day I went to lunch and purposefully took a specific Oprah magazine with me. I've been carrying around this issue (November) in order to read an article that I just couldn't pass up. Susan Klebold, mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine murderers, broke her silence to write about her experience for O magazine.

Like most of you, I remember the day of the Columbine shootings clearly. I was a mom to an almost two year old boy, pregnant with another and attending Massage Therapy school. Watching the massacre unfold on TV left me speechless and horrified. Once the initial chaos wore off and some of the reality of what had happened hours earlier came to light, the public started pointing fingers at the parents of those two killers. All I kept thinking was "Oh my God, those parents. Those MOTHERS! How will those mothers ever go on?" And I wasn't just thinking about the mothers whose children were murdered that day, but the mothers who raised those two killers.  What kind of parent raises mass murderers?

The next day at school, our massage teacher, who is an ex-priest, decided to put off having class to discuss what had happened the day before. To go over how we were feeling, the impact this had on our society. It was quite a discussion. The parents of those boys were discussed - What kind of parents raise mass murderers? How could they not have known something was going on? Didn't they ever check on their kids to see what they were up to? How could they let them get to the point of killing dozens but with intentions of blowing up everyone?

At the end of all of that finger pointing and having many of those thoughts myself, I remember saying, while practically hyperventilating, "What if they did everything right?"  Really, what if those parents are like most of us? What if they loved on their kids, supported them in their endeavors, gave those kids their all? Just like most of us are doing?  How does a parent live with that? How do you see it coming when there appear to be little to no signs?

The article Susan Klebold writes is insightful, emotional and heartbreaking. She will never fully recover, though she is doing some good work to help others and to help herself. It's scary because her story reinforced my question of "What if they did everything right?" It appears she was a good mom and her husband was a good dad. They had some issues with Dylan Klebold, but what parent of a teenager doesn't?  This horrific event snuck up on them and left them as shocked and traumatized as any other parent that day. They have had to deal not only with the loss of their son, but the realization that their son caused unimaginable pain to so many others. That he took the lives of so many, leaving parents, a spouse and other loved ones behind.  And they were unprepared, because like so many of us, they were doing their best and doing what they thought was right in the world of parenting.  It makes me shudder to think that more often than not, we parents do all the right things, make all the right moves, love all the right ways, but things can go terribly wrong.

You can read Susan Klebold's article, "I Will Never Know Why" at HERE.


  1. The courage it must have taken to write that article. I've been meaning to check it out, but I thinnk you nailed it on why I haven't yet. It's just easier to pretend that they screwed up somewhere, and that surely the rest of us will get it correct.

    I promise you I will find it and read it.

  2. I was attending a Colorado high school when the Columbine shootings occurred. I didn't go to Columbine but just being in the same state felt too close. Sometimes parenting or lack thereof seem to play a huge roll in why kids do things but honestly I really feel that sometimes parenting has nothing to do with it.

    Teenagers will make their own decisions. There are probably lots of people to "blame" but I don't blame the Harris' or the Klebold's parenting. I do, however, blame their son's.

  3. I too need to read the article. I think that whatever those parents didn't do--whether it be not enough supervision, not enough keeping the kids busy in afer-school stuff, whether it be too much freedom with the computer--other sparents parented the same way and yet their kids did not massacre. So I blame the kids.

  4. I will read the article. That was a horrific day, indeed.
    And yes, I agree that the mothers of those two boys are probably forgotten, or not sympathized with. I can't imagine...and you ask a good question 'what if they did everything right?'

  5. I read that article too in Oprah.....I could not imagine.

    Parenting is hard and you just never know. I feel sorry for those parents that have to live with what their kids did and for the parents of the victims.

  6. ugh. this is the type of thing that literally paralyzes me with fear. your post is so awesome and thought provoking. off the cuff, i think there are things we can do to minimize the 'bad' our kids do... to a certain degree. i do wonder if there had been warning signs.. but really, that is just me trying to find some way to differentiate my kids from theirs.

  7. I'm going to have to read the article. The issue is certainly thought provoking.

  8. I'm like you. I think they were good parents. I have read "Columbine" by Dave Cullen, which is an extremely thorough examination of the boys, the day's events and the fall-out since it happened. It's a hard book to get through and a hard book to just forget when you're finished, but I remember thinking then that it wasn't likely the parents could have stopped this, and I felt the same after finishing the book. We do everything we can while raising our children to make them good citizens, good people, but I also think no matter how much time we spend with our children, how much influence we have on them, there are some who never fully let their guard down and let us completely in. I also remember thinking then, and now, that those particular teenage years are such a roller coaster of emotions and social issues and even the smallest slight can be planted and fester into big things. There's really no good place to lay the blame on this situation.

  9. I just finished reading the article and my heart is heavy. You want to be able to read your child's mind and fill it full self confidence and an understanding of their divine potential; but you simply cannot. There can be 'signs' and there can be a million ways to interpret them. The article she wrote is raw and honest and hopefully it will help herself and others with her passion of opening up what is too often kept secret, and aid in the understanding and prevention of suicide. My heart breaks for her; and should have a long time ago. There are far too many young people struggling with feelings of alienation.