Copyright © 2009 by Richard A. Grossman, Ph.D. · All Rights reserved · E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
attend a son's baseball games and practices and still be deaf. One can buy presents for your son or take him on vacation, and still be deaf. One can be president of the Parent Teacher Organization and still be deaf. One can look to the outside world like a perfect and loving parent and still be deaf.
Hearing requires granting a child a voice equal to yours from the day they are born. This is difficult for parents who are still trying to make their own voice heard due to injuries from their past. But what children have to say about the world is just as important as what you have to say. And if you listen closely to them, you will learn as much as they will from you. I would be willing to bet that this did not happen in the Harris and Klebold families. If it had, the young men would not have reacted violently to the slights they felt from their peers.
Why were these four parents unable to hear? In order to answer this each would have to look at their own histories with a therapist. Indeed, part of the therapy process involves the exploration of voice. Ours: was it heard, by whom, if not why not? And our children's: are we hearing them, if not why not, how can we hear them more accurately. Children are incredibly perceptive: they know when they are truly being heard and when they are not. And they know when parents are merely trying to look good to the outside world. If they are chronically unheard, they begin to build walls around themselves, act out, or do whatever it takes to protect themselves from the pain and anxiety of being "voiceless."
Of course, it is too late now---for Harris, Klebold, and the innocent people who were executed on April 20th. But the bloody incident should serve as a reminder, a kind of wake up call--that we must not fool ourselves into believing we are doing a good job as parents when we are not, that we are listening when we are not.
In the end, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had the last word. They spoke so loudly that for a few days the whole world paused and listened. It needn't have come to this.
Voicelessness and Emotional Survival