Ok, Ok, I am trying to deep-breathe my way through this next blog post but so far it’s not working. In fact I’ve turned a fetching shade of puce and if you’re lucky I may actually pass out before I reach the end. You see in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook killings there are a thousand things for us to debate including gun laws and mental health provision but there’s one thing that I really do not want to hear any more about and it is this: the demonisation of mothers.
You see every time there is an event of this kind the media performs some sort of autopsy on the killer’s family. In this case the world is trying to understand the hideous actions of the killer, Adam Lanza, by peering into the life of his mother, Nancy. It is said that she was a survivalist, that she collected the guns that her son used to kill her and his other victims and that upon divorcing Adam’s father was granted the authority to make all the decisions about her son’s upbringing.
Cue her demonisation. You see, we’ve seen it all before with the disappearance of little April Jones from Machynlleth in October this year and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007. The questions about their mothering skills were endless and hateful. How could she let her child play outside? How could she look so cold? And now, how could she have kept guns?
See, over and over again what society seems to forget at times like this is that parenting isn’t just about the mother. It’s about the father too. So why do we so rarely see fathers being blamed for what becomes of their kids? I don’t recall April Jones’ father being hounded by the press when his daughter went missing and I don’t recall Maddy McCann’s dad getting even half of the kicking that her mother received. And now that we’re turning our attention to Nancy Lanza I don’t suppose we’ll hear anything much about Adam’s dad either.
It always comes back to the mother and for some reason we all love nothing more than to pull them apart. When apportioning blame we are all over the mothers like a bad fucking rash. We suddenly forget that mothers are not the only determinant in their child’s lives.
We conveniently ignore the fathers who could have had an impact, the teachers who could have made a difference or the social services who could have offered better provision. Suddenly it’s as if mothers work in splendid isolation, being the sole influence upon their kids’ lives and actions. We also forget, in cases such as the Sandy Hook killings, that perpetrators also have minds of their own, minds that work outside the influence of their mothers. Yet mothers are somehow expected to override all of this and take control of events that are so much bigger than them.
Why? What in the fuck have women done to deserve this. You see, if you expect mothers to be the sole factor in the outcome of their children then you also expect mothers to be superhuman. Just how wildly unrealistic is that?
Worse, this notion that mothers are omnipresent and that they should have total and complete control over their children means that mothers will always fail. Always. After all, what else would result from this laughably unrealistic expectation? When the bar becomes so high that no mother can ever reach it, failure is the only option.
Yes, there are times when mothers completely fuck up, yet there are also times when fathers completely fuck up. Then there are those parents to whom shit simply happens. Real, life-changing, soul-crushing, stinking shit regardless of how perfectly they have tried to raise their kids or how well intentioned their actions.
So in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook murders perhaps we could spare a thought for how the media portrays mothers, regardless of how you feel about Nancy Lanza’s beliefs. By blaming the mother and only the mother we take the focus off the role that every member of society plays in how our kids turn out and that would be one of the greatest crimes of all.
So what do you reckon? Do I have a point or have I got it all wrong. Oh go on, you know I am dying to know.