Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Slender Man, Stabbings, and All of the Reasons Parenting Is Scary

Normally if you ask me for my honest-to-goodness no-holds-barred opinion, I'm going to tell you that I think parenting is easy. No kidding. Frustrating? Sure, sometimes. Stressful? Again, sometimes. But not most of the time. Most of the time I'm in this zen place that's half engaged mindfulness and half "in the zone".

But when things happen like a stabbing perpetrated by two 12-year-olds allegedly in the thrall of a meme - of all things - all that goes out the window. Ask me tonight and I'm going to tell you I think parenting is terrifying.

Not because tragedy happens, though that's terrifying, too. Especially when you're the kind of person who has an imagination both vivid and dark enough to go places no parent wants to go. I'm terrified because research into the backgrounds of the ickiest kinds of criminals suggests that these kids (and whether they're tried as adults or not they were still kids) probably came from pretty normal homes.

Tell me that's not terrifying. The idea - and maybe this is just my brain going to a dark place - that one of my kids could just *be* the sort who'd think hurting other people is a thrilling idea because of brain chemistry or bullying or whatever stops me in my tracks.

I can't help asking myself what warning signs the parents of the two child wannabe murderers missed. What warning signs the mom and dad of the poor kid who was stabbed missed! Were there even any?

My Mom Meet Mom cofounder Meg wrote a reaction piece where she gives recommendations that could maybe, just maybe keep something like this from happening to another family. Check it out:

I'll be straight here and say that I don't know that there is any one parenting tip out there that can prevent events like the Slender Man Stabbing from taking place. But the way I see it, there's no reason not to up the game when it comes to keeping on top of kids using the Internet.

I'm sure some folks out there will think I'm awful for saying I'm going to monitor my kids' Internet usage but heck, I moderate my own. Why wouldn't I keep an eye on theirs?

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