When Bad Parenting Affects Good People

Was Nancy Lanza's poor judgment the root cause of her son's shooting spree in Newtown, Conn.?

Nancy Lanza is an example of this phenomenon. Her poor judgment and profound lack of common sense as a parent (keeping guns around a “troubled child”) had tragic consequences for a lot of people, including herself. To be clear, not all children with Asperger’s syndrome are dangerous, but parents who are overwhelmed and in over their heads (dealing with children they are not trained or equipped to handle) certainly are troubled and in need of help. Parenting doesn’t come with a manual, which is why parenting classes exist.

You don’t have to be a school psychologist or a college professor to identify everyday examples of bad parenting. Head to the local grocery store or department store, or spend a few minutes at the airport waiting for a flight, and you’ll see that good parents are not born; like good children, they are made.

While some cultural critics are willing to try to find the correlation between bad deeds and either guns or exposure to violence in media, some aren’t as willing to explore the correlation between the rise in violent acts among young adults and the type of parenting they receive. Why?

Maybe it is because many of us would find our own parenting styles implicated. What happened in Sandy Hook and continues to happen in Chicago and other cities teeming with violent crime has to be dealt with on multiple levels, and parenting or the lack thereof should not be left out of the equation. Otherwise I fear we’ll continue to see examples of bad parenting happening to good people, long after the tragedy in Newtown stops being a hot news story.

Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., is editor-at-large for The Root. She is also editor-in-chief of the Burton Wire, a blog dedicated to world news related to the African Diaspora and global culture. Follow her on Twitter.