How Do You Know?

A few days ago I watched a 20/20 special on Sue Klebold, the mother of Columbine shooter, Dylan Klebold.  I remember Columbine.  I remember watching in shocked horror that something like this could happen at a school- a place where people were just going to learn, that I had, up until that point, always assumed was one of the safer places for me to be.  I was two years from graduating high school when that innocence was taken away and I don't think the nation has been the same since.  We've come to the point now that school shootings are so common that they aren't as shocking as they once were.  And that in itself is truly terrifying.

But as I watched the 20/20 special, I realized that I now thought of this tragedy from her point of view- as a mother.  I'm the mother to a young child and I think I'm doing my best, and I think that he's loved, and I think that he will grow up to be a good person.  And I have no doubt that Sue Klebold thought the same thing.  From what I could tell, Dylan grew up in a good home with a good family- parents who loved him and treated him well.

But at some point, something in his brain switched and he became suicidal and his mother had no idea.  She had no idea the demons in his head, she had no idea that he was capable of killing people who were his peers and friends.  And she experienced backlash from the victim's parents, chastising her for not knowing.

But my question is- how do you know?  How can you really know what is happening in the mind of your teenager?  You can ask questions and you can dig and you can snoop, but if they don't want you to find something, they won't.  During the special it was said that 15-20% of kids consider suicide.  That is a huge number!  And it is my guess that a large percentage of those kids' parents think that their kids would talk to them if things got to that point.  But how many do?  How can you force your kids to talk to you?

It's a terrifying thought to think that Henry could grow up and feel these feelings and I would never have any idea.  That he could put on a brave face and a good show and I would be one of those parents who thought "He knows he can talk to me- he'll come to me if there is something wrong".  So how will you ever really know?  What can you do?