We recognize the need for immediate responses to the cascade of tragedies we experienced this last week. But a longer-term, positive and preventive response is also essential if we are to transform our communities so that atrocities like those in Dayton and El Paso simply do not occur.
We must rethink the way we raise our children, especially the way we raise our boys. The perpetrators of the latest massacres, and previous ones, are young men, yet no one mentions the role of parenting or the importance of parenting resources. To transform the way we raise our children, we must change the way we support parents. The real red flag I see is one calling for universal parenting education.
As the mother of three grown sons, I have the deepest sympathy for the parents of the troubled young men who committed these latest mass murders. Last spring I heard Sue Klebold, the mother of one of the Columbine shooters, speak about her struggles to understand what motivated her son. She has become a campaigner for suicide prevention and mental health resources, as she believes that many of the assaults we see are motivated by the perpetrator’s wish to ‘end it all’.
I was born in Dayton and grew up in the same small town, Yellow Springs, that Ohio’s governor calls home. As governor, Mike Dewine is rightfully investing in the welfare of the state’s most vulnerable children. As founder of Parents Forum, I ask him publicly to broaden his concern to include parents and parenting education. ‘Denial, Ohio’, a recent public service announcement, captures the stark need for parents to change both perspective and behavior when it comes to childrearing . . . a need hardly unique to this state.
Much of the violence in society today, as in the past, is home-grown. We must, as parents, learn more compassionate ways to guide and encourage our children. We can show them by example how to better manage conflict and how to accept setbacks and losses, large and small. Many, many parents already do this. We need to make these best practices standard practice.
Parenting education and parent peer support have to be on our national agenda. Please join me in calling on our leaders in government, business and the social sphere to make parenting resources a top priority. All of us — parents, program providers and policymakers — must commit to universal parenting education as our overarching goal.