Perhaps the only silver lining to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary is emerging conversations and, hopefully, policy changes for gun control and mental illness. Both are in dire need of a relook and a revision, even though neither is likely to eradicate mass shootings.
But what about emotional illness, which affects so many more of us? Children are not born with emotional problems, which are rooted in feeling isolated, unimportant, misunderstood, victimized, holier than thou, etc. Children with emotional problems are the victims of the influence of parents, teachers, peers—anyone who is critical in the daily life of the child. Most of these problems can be healed through parenting.
Parents, wounded themselves in their pasts, unknowingly pass on their unexamined wounds to their children—wounds that come from perceptions of a child’s mind (“I’m not good enough”, “I can’t ever be who my parents expect”, “Nobody likes me“, I’m a trouble-maker”, etc.). These thoughts grow into beliefs that influence behavior if not understood and addressed.