More than any other factor violence is related to the breakdown of the family unit and the lack of connectedness young people experience in today’s society. Unlike in past generations, this lack of connectedness and bonding occurs at a younger age and is more pronounced.
For example, unlike past generations, most children start daycare within the first few months of life long before an appropriate level of bonding occurs between mother and child. These infants then spend 8, 10, 12, 14 hours a day in the care of strangers… often having a variety of people care for them throughout the day and different people on different days.
In addition, these children (and ones that had a stay-at-home-parent) now start school at an earlier age with a greater and greater push for mandatory Kindergarten often starting at 3 years old. Again there is a lack of bonding, a devaluing of the family unit, and a lack of connectedness to meaningful people in the child’s life.
As children get older they now text instead of make phone calls and have Facebook friends instead of real friends they spend time with. Time together is spent playing Nintendo football instead of a pick-up game in a nearby vacant lot. Worse still, many games are now multi-player online games where you do not even need to be in the same room, or town… or country! And many of these games show such a disregard for human life that children are continually desensitized to violence.
Couple this with the incredible proliferation of abortion, late term abortions, morning-after pills, and the accompanying political posturing in relation to these topics and life gets even more meaningless and insignificant. A baby is now an illness or a condition rather than a joy or a blessing. Ending this human life is simple and widely accepted as a choice that is as shallow as a matter of convenience.
So, what do we end up with? We end up with children who never bonded to their parents or families. They have spent the majority of their lives with people paid to care for them and are now deeply invested in their lives. The children are taught to value possessions. Friendships are measured by the number of friends listed on Facebook rather than real friendships. Children are desensitized to violence and place little value on human life.
With all of this, we should not be surprised when incidents like the Colorado movie theater, like VT, like Newtown occur. To stop the violence there is no amount of legislation, regulation, limitation, or restriction that will be effective. At least, not without also removing freedoms and liberties that are the bedrock of our great country.
To stop the violence, we just need parents to be parents again.
Fathers really need start being present so they have an opportunity to be fathers. In America 1 child in 3 grows up in a household where the biological father is absent and we know from decades of research that when the father is absent poverty, incarceration, drug and alcohol abuse, education, and childhood obesity are all placed at a greater risk for occurrence. Parenting is intended to be a two person job and while there are scores of single mothers doing an amazing job, they can simply never make themselves into two people and fully provide everything that a two person home can.
Mothers should nurse children… there is no better bonding experience… our bodies are designed for this and babies are hard wired for the experience. Have the child spend 95% of their time with their parents for the first five years. Even once they start school, a parent should be home in the morning to make them breakfast and home in the afternoon to greet them, hear about their day, and get them an after school snack. Even better, homeschooling has been an increasing trend that affords parents more interaction time with their children. Have dinner together… every night. Know what they are watching, what games they are playing, what friends they hang out with. Know the parents of their friends. Play board games in the evening, watch movies together and sit close together on the couch. Wrestle with them, tickle them, and be goofy together. Tuck them in at night and let the last words they hear each day be “I love you”.
These are the simple things that parents did when we lived in a simpler time. But parenting does not have to be complicated. Though not at all easy, raising children does not have to be complicated. We can still keep it simple. Tell them you love them… every day. Hug them… every day! Kiss them… every day!