Reelling from the shock of the Sandy Hook shooting, America does what America does best – reaches out and supports the families, the first responders, the teachers and administrators. This reaching out is part of our strength as a nation, it is part of our culture, it is part of what gets us through horrifc situations.
But who is reaching out to Adam Lanza’s family? Let’s be honest, in the face of that question, our first reaction is to distance ourselves. We feel uncomfortable. We attempt to try and make sense of senselessness and say – They must be crazy too and don’t need or deserve our support.
Liza Long, wrote a poigant article I am Adam Lanza’s Mother describing the angst of a mother who has a child with a mental illness, fears his potential for great violence and cannot find the help she needs. She is not alone. Across our nation are many parents who struggle daily to parent and find help for a mentally ill child. A parent described to me how their child wouldn’t enter their home by the front door, only through a ladder into a bedroom. I have heard stories of a child climbing on top of the roof and yelling obsencities. I have heard stories of a mom having to restrain their child mulitiple times a week as they rage.
Having a mental illness is just that – an illness. But we don’t treat it that way. We treat it as though the parents are bad, the child is bad and everyone needs to learn how to act properly.
Parents of children with a mental illness need our support. They have been given a hard road. They need people who believe in them, who will come alongside. They need people who will cry with them, encourage them and challenge them to keep seeking treatment.
It is time for a national conversation about mental illness. Let’s remove the stigma, get educated as to what this type of illness really is and find ways we can support those who are afflicted.
I hope Adam Lanza’s family is being loved.