How to Help Boys Like Adam Lanza

So, how do we really help boys like Adam Lanza? Is it possible?

I believe so.

First, when massive events like this happen, I choose to open my heart and feel everything in me. It doesn’t take me long to drop in to deep rage and grief, then I quickly move to gratitude for what I have–that I can stroke my kids hair while lying next to him for a mid-day nap. That he’s right here, still breathing, alive, gentle, and unaware that kids his age were shot to death.

Within the Newtown tragedy, if we focus on gun control or safer schools, we spend precious time and energy on symptom reduction which is important. But I want to get to the roots of the behavior that impacts lasting change.

Why does a kid go buy a gun in the first place and want to kill? Adam appeared to be a “lost soul,” vacant, extremely disconnected from himself and others.

So, what is going on here?

For me, it has everything to do with three things:

  1. How we adult caregivers (parents, teachers, coaches, other guides) are with ourselves
  2. How we caregivers raise boys in this culture
  3. How we deal with and treat our young ones who have challenging mental health issues (whatever the cause)

I’ll address each briefly.

One— It starts with us. How we are with ourselves as human beings is the core issue. “Be the change” is it. Thich Nhat Hanh said it best in his poem Call me by my true names. We are the killers. The monster lives inside of me. When I demonize the person “out there” I cut off the wounded shadow part of myself. As a parent of two, my self-awareness is my greatest tool because when I know myself, I have choice. I don’t need to “act out,” bully, or make others wrong, or kill them, ever.

Despite how I got raised, I  have a choice how I want to show up and treat others. If we adults are disembodied, no amount of excellent, safe, perfect schools or parenting will cut it. We have to be connected to our core if we want to impart that to the young. Parenting is a transmission. Kids learn by watching the grown ups. Grown ups kill and are violent. Grown ups are disconnected and do big and little things that are hurtful. Kids watch that and learn.

Two–How I parent my son and daughter is crucial. I’ve written extensively about this issue (my ebook to the right and this post on the boy code). The boy code is the gender straightjacket that puts boys in a box of how to behave. To a degree, Adam L was just following the rules in their extreme. Be tough, invincible, don’t show emotion, go it alone, attack first, carry a gun, defend yourself at all costs, throw the first punch, etc. He played violent video games. He was just doing what happens in the games.

Many parents are still colluding with the boy code. If your son acts feminine, weak, or gay parents will tweak his behavior so he doesn’t get bullied, shamed or humiliated in school. We must do this one differently. We need to parent our boys and girls free from gender boxes and allow them to be who they really are. We must teach emotional literacy, self-awareness, and “how to do intimacy” as foundational tools for our children. Kids that are raised in this way, flourish and have a strong inner compass rooted in self-trust and self-love.

Adam was disconnected and likely had few role models or mentors to show up for him in a powerful way. His concerning symptoms were probably going on for years. That’s years where Adam got “missed” by the grown ups. I notice that a lot of grown ups “check out” and become bystanders when kids behavior gets challenging. They don’t know what to do, so they do nothing or try to “fix it” with meds.

Three–Mental Health Challenges. This one is more tricky loaded with layers upon layers. However, to state it simply, boys appear to be more and more disregulated these days. The diagnoses are skyrocketing for boys who don’t fit the “normal” behavioral mode. If Adam had asperger’s syndrome, then how do we treat that and how do we treat whatever is uniquely showing up in him? What medications was he on and what were the side effects? How do medications adversely affect children? This is where parents can use their intuition more and stop looking to big pharma companies to solve their kids “problems.” (I understand that meds are amazing for some kids. And, they are very harmful to other kids).

Part of boy behavior in 2012 is boys reaction to the social conditioning, parenting, and schooling they get. Another part is less traceable. Perhaps it’s the chemicals we grew up with, vaccines, prescription meds, the drinking water, or maybe they were “just born that way.” Who knows? But either way, how we treat them, and how we support them, once these behaviors show up will determine if they can adapt and live a functional, “normal” life. We must look way outside the Western medical model of treatment (which is most commonly to overmedicate them) and into more earth-based, shamanic ways of living, healing, and being. We can look to other cultures and shamans like Malidoma Some to guide us here. Read the Shamanic View of Mental Illness.

How can we reach, I mean really reach children like Adam before they become lost and so far disconnected that it becomes challenging to get them back in their bodies, back in their hearts?

Perhaps if we address these three domains, I think we have a chance of helping very disconnected souls like Adam.

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