I mean we parents. We each think our own children are sweet and innocent.
What is 'innocent' anyway? Most people think that it is something like "Not knowing evil." And they're half right.
It's really "Not knowing good and evil." Like Adam and Eve. In other words, not knowing right from wrong.
Your child is sunny and sweet around you. Well, enough of the time. But children in general are evil little bastards. Ask any teacher. Ask anyone who was picked on in school. Ask a man who was a gay child in a school 10 years ago.
School is an ordeal for most kids, socially. Those who have fond memories of it are the exception.
Yet we persist in our delusion that children are sweet and innocent. Why? Why do we want to believe that so badly that we close our eyes to the truth? Even the Bible says that we are not born without sin.
Believing in this 'innocence' myth, we turn our faces away, ignore what is going on, what our children are subjected to. And what they are doing.
Jared Laughner's parents, according to reports I'm hearing from his school mates, should have had him in therapy. Why didn't they? Probably because parents are blind to the faults of their own children.
We need to get rid of this notion that our children are perfect, that they have no evil in their hearts. I'll grant you that it isn't "evil" - it's simple unawareness of the feelings and rights, the 'personness' of other people. It's normal, but it's exactly what we hope to be teaching them about.
I remember a minor incident from a few years ago. A small boy, probably about 7, was going along the meat case at the supermarket, systematically sticking his finger through the plastic wrap of the cuts of meat. Kindly but firmly, I told him that he must not do that. His mother, who had been across the aisle, came over and jerked him away saying to me, "I'M taking care of him!"
Well, excuse me lady, but you were not.
Another time, many years ago, a neighbor child was throwing bits of gravel at my car. I took the child's hand and had her touch the car. I called her attention to how smooth and pretty the paint was, and told her that throwing gravel at the car would ruin that. Her mother came along, snatched her away and yelled, "She didn't damage your car and you know it!" No, lady, she didn't. That wasn't the point. What do you want her to end up doing in her ignorance?
Used to be they would say that it takes a community to raise a child. Today, anyone who comes near our child is considered a threat, and automatically wrong. There are reasons for this. But if we are going to take total responsibility for our children, then we need to TAKE that responsibility, and realize that children are NOT adults. They do not have the experience, or the brain wiring to behave as adults. They are wired to do what they need to do to survive, and that means pushing all limits until there are unpleasant consequences.
This is why I object so strongly to a child being tried as an adult for a violent crime. It isn't the child's fault. Children have not learned to restrain violent impulses. Once that child becomes an adult, he must restrain himself or face the consequences, but children are not capable of that. When a child is in an intolerable situation, he *will* lash out one way or another, begging for help. Instead we totally destroy their lives, putting them in prison where they learn to be completely antisocial.
Another incident: Friend of Son's, named Mark. Mark's parents were pretty good, actually. But Mark was picked on in school - laughed at, teased, and beaten up. He took to carrying a knife and one day he used it.
Mark, who had always restrained himself, who had been cruelly treated, was now the bad guy. They sent him to reform school. Ironically, this worked for him. While he hated the reform school and the kids he had to put up with there (no better than at home - he still didn't have social skills), when he got out he had a 'bad ass' reputation, and was left alone. It would be interesting to know what became of him.
I sent my daughter to a private school for two years, thinking that she would receive a better education. Like all my kids, and myself, she was teased and picked on. I noticed that any time she fought back, it was she who was caught and she who was punished. The perpetrators continued to get away with it.
We are backward about our children. Totally backward. Until we learn, as a society, what psychologists already know; that children are not mini adults, we will never improve. We are likely, in fact, to continue to decline.