I read an article this weekend in the Winston-Salem Journal entitled, “Columbine Killer’s Mom didn’t Realize Son’s Illness.” The mother of the Columbine killer the article is talking about is Susan Klebold.
Dylan, her son, along with Eric Harris killed 12 students and a teacher in the 1999 shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Denver. 21 people were injured before Klebold and Harris killed themselves. Mrs. Klebold in her essay that will be printed in “O” magazine this week, said, “I’d had no inkling of the battle Dylan was waging in his mind.” When I read that sentence it struck me. I read the words, “no inkling” over and over. No inkling. No inkling. No inkling. I looked up the word in the dictionary and here it is: “in·kling” n. 1. A slight hint or indication. 2. A slight understanding or vague idea or notion. So, Mrs. Klebold had not even a slight hint or indication or even a slight understanding or even a vague idea or notion what was going on with her son. I don’t want to put words in her mouth and I suspect perhaps she may would choose another word if she really understood what she was saying and how it looks in print. However, this is what struck me. How is it in our culture today that we seem to know so little about our teenagers and/or children’s lives and what makes them tick?
Why would this lady not have any understanding or idea or notion that her son was “sick.” Aren’t there signs? Sure there are. Again, I don’t want to sound judgemental, because I obviously don’t know Mrs. Klebold, but I’ve learned something through the years, (and having a soon to be 16 year old has taught me this as well), we must keep our children talking. We absolutely must communicate with them and talk, talk, talk and talk some more with them. You say, “My teen just doesn’t talk.” Oh, but they will talk…I promise you, if you will simply take the time to go to their room and sit down and talk with them. This usually takes a “one on one” meeting, as it rarely happens in the “group” of the family.
I have found late at night, right before bedtime is the best time to have these “talks.” Just go sit on the corner of their bed and say, “Hey, how’s it goin’?” They may not even look up from their homework (hopefully they do some of that! Ha!), or their Ipod, cell phone or Facebook page. But, keep pressing in a calm and respectful way. Ask again, “How you doin?” Don’t ask “How was school?” or “How was practice?” or something that requires a “one word” answer. Asking “How are you doing?” is a much better way to have an open-ended conversation. I’ve found even with my two four-year olds, this is a great lead-in question too.
Do you know what I’ve found? They will talk when they see we care. We’ve got to take the time from our busy schedules just to talk. We’ve got to get away from our own Facebook pages and “work” and the game on the TV, the newspaper, the emails, the hobbies, etc. and just sit down and take the time to talk to our children. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it?
You know, this reminds me of the way our Heavenly Father wants to relate to us. He just wants us to talk to Him. He wants us to listen to what He has to say back to us as well. How do we do that? By reading the Bible, which is His Word for us. That’s called “building a relationship.”
Hey, can I ask you a question? Do you pray for your children? Sure you do! I know you do! But, I mean do you REALLY pray for them? You may ask, “What do you mean?” I mean do you ever get down on your knees in their presence and pray over them? Do they hear you call their name to the Heavenly Father? You talk about powerful!! Try it! Ask your son or daughter to kneel beside of you and then you place your arm around their shoulder and you pray out loud for them! Wow! Just thinking about it makes me “tear up.” I can speak from experience…this works wonders.
I have made it my custom as the spiritual leader in my home to pray over my children every morning before I leave the house. This takes some time to do so with four children, believe me…but, it’s worth it. (May I hasten to say, I also pray over my wife, Pam, as well…this is critical as her husband.) Most of the time when I pray in the morning for my children, they are still in the bed because it’s still dark. But, they hear me! I’m telling you they hear me! Maybe not everything…but, they know I’m there. They’ve told me so. I pray with the family as a whole at night, but this morning time of praying God’s blessings upon my children happens in the early morning hours individually with them.
At night, we huddle up look a brood of chickens and I pray over the family. We simply turn off the TV (of which we watch very little…on purpose)…and we just talk. You ask, “Do you do this every single night?” No. But, please hear me…it’s at least a couple of night’s per week. You see, I believe we can get “legalistic” sometimes and say we must have devotions every night or we’re not getting the job done. Well, I’d love it if we did so each and every night. My family seeks to make the nights that we don’t have a devotion, at least a short one (5-10 minutes), the anomaly rather than the norm. I’m no fool. I know in our culture today, it’s probably not feasible to say that everyone has nightly devotions. We’re just simply not home enough. However, I would say, if you don’t have time to have devotions and prayer and Bible reading at least 2-3 times per week, then you are probably too busy. By the way, you know what “busy” stands for don’t you? “Buried Under Satan’s Yoke.” Ouch!! That hits me hard? How ’bout you? We’ve got to get our priorities right with our children or we will lose them. (See my blogs on “Adult-Centered Youth Ministry for me on this.)
Bottom line. We must communicate within our families in order for us to know our families. We must do so to have an “inkling” as to what is going on in their lives. Unfortunately, even in Christian homes, what is happening is that the time slides by and we just don’t talk anymore and consequently, we don’t know one another anymore. We unknowingly accept the lies of the culture that says, “Well, they are teens…so at that age they just don’t talk to their parents anymore.” Folks, that’s a lie from Satan! Don’t you believe it! They DO want to talk to us. They sometimes think we don’t care or don’t want to listen or are too busy…but, they DO want to talk. They will talk to you over their friends. You don’t believe that? Just ask them. Statistics show teens still will choose to talk to their parents and seek their advice OVER their friends. So, we must slow down, sit down and take the time to talk. If we do…then we’ll certainly have more than an “inkling” about what is going on in our children’s lives.