This is a blog piece I struggled with writing. I started, stopped, then decided I had to say something.

A few days ago, two Minnesota eighth-graders, girls, hung themselves during a sleepover in an apparent suicide pact. The mothers of the girls said today that there were "no warning signs" and that they had "tried to help their daughters cope with bullying the best they could." The girls, both 14, were being treated for depression, and one was on medication, but again, their mothers said there were no indications they were going to take their lives.

Thirteen years ago, I ended up featured on a national radio show because of something I wrote in the New York Times about a Columbine-style school shooting in Jonesboro, Arkansas, by two boys, 13 and 11. The parents of the boys who committed those murders also said something similar, that there were "no warning signs."

Here's what I wrote, entitled "Could School Shooting Have Been Prevented?" that was published in the Times:

"In 'Death in a Middle School' (editorial, March 26, 1998), you say 'closer monitoring of troubled students and referrals to psychiatric counseling might have prevented this tragedy.' But you go on to say that 'ultimately, the unremarkable qualities of the Jonesboro suspects are what make finding answers so difficult.' As a psychotherapist who has worked with children, I agree with the first statement, not the last. A clinician specializing in children would not have difficulty finding the kinds of mental and emotional disturbances present in a child preparing to murder. The masks of children are very transparent, though understandably not to busy or untrained parents and teachers who are emotionally invested in not seeing problems in the children they care for. If the boys arrested had had a routine evaluation by a competent school psychologist, it's possible this tragedy would not have occurred."

Folks, where do I begin? This is hard and this is painful.

Children do not commit suicide or murder without warning signs.

Major warning signs.

If we don't stop trying to drug our kids emotional problems and inner lives into submission, along with our own, and if we don't stop letting ourselves as a society off the hook by not acknowledging out loud - really loudly - that most parents, teachers and doctors don't have a clue about our children's developmental needs, then these tragedies will continue. Furthermore, if we don't admit that most parents, teachers and doctors know close to nothing about the emotional and psychological issues that children suffer from, nor do most parents understand the inextricable connection between their children's well-being and their own adult emotional and mental health, then we will continue to endure these grievous occurrences.

Love is not enough of a qualification for raising children.

Parenting is a very challenging and complex job that requires more rigorous training than any doctoral program, if it is to be done well. That training is intensive self-work, the kind that leads you to being fully tuned-in and conscious, which makes you aware of your own emotional states and of the emotional states of those around you. It means you've overcome the idealizations, transferences and projections that make you see what you want to see and not see what is really going on in your children's inner lives.

Okay, there, I said it.

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