Another school shooting. This time it’s a twelve-year-old boy at a middle school in New Mexico—let that sink in, a middle school.
If you’re a parent/guardian of a middle school student you currently have a very difficult job.
Your student is going through so many changes it often appears that they’re possessed by some alien intruder. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually they’re transforming right before your eyes. And it is not always easy to deal with. But don’t ever for a second believe that your job as a parent doesn’t matter.
I don’t personally know the twelve-year-old shooter or his family. But as someone who has worked with students for ten years, I can safely assume at least one truth about the family. At some point his parents checked out. At some point they stop pursuing their child.
I don’t blame them. I’ve known enough middle school parents to know there are so many moments which tempt parents to in some way to check out. But here’s what every parent needs to know:
There is no way a twelve-year-old boy brings a shotgun to school if his parents stay engaged in his life.
Every violent student I have ever met has one thing in common. One or more of their parents has in some way checked out. The absence of the parent(s) might be due to work, drugs, or the ever-present smart phone. The addiction of the parent doesn’t matter. What does matter is that when students feel neglected, or like they’re not worth pursuing, they act out in negative ways. And for boys that is often with violence.
I know your student criticizes you, disrespects you, and often rejects you. I know they think they know more then you (and on a few subjects they do). And I know that everything inside you wants to run away or least take a long vacation from parenting. But this time, the time between middle school and high school, is not the time to step back. Now is the time to lean in and not believe the lie that your job is becoming less significant.
Parents, don’t give up.
Your pursuit of your student is what keeps them from pursing violent crime. Your pursuit of your student is what keeps them from toxic relationships or drug abuse. Your pursuit of your student is what keeps them emotionally stable (yes, it could be worse). Your pursuit of your student is what helps them have academic success. Your pursuit of your student helps them grow in their faith. Your day-by-day, no-thrills, pursuit of your student makes him or her feel loved, significant, and secure.
So in summary, please, never, never, ever, stop believing, the truth, that your pursuit of your student matters!