There Was a Shooting At My Son’s School

During his sophomore year there was a shooting in my son‘s school. He attended Fern Creek Traditional High School in Louisville, KY. Maybe you heard about it on the news. A student opened fire on the second-floor hallway shooting one student in the stomach. Like most school shootings, this one received national news coverage. CNNThe Huffington Post, even the NY Daily News covered the occurrences that took place regarding the shooting, the victim, the suspect and the attempts for parents to reunite with our children.

Can you imagine my state of mind? No one at the school would answer the phones. Can you feel the tension? Every news station in the city is covering the blow by blow. One student injured and one student shooter. Law enforcement was everywhere: Police, SWAT, the bomb squad, the Sheriff. My only thoughts were getting to my son and making sure he was OK – physically and emotionally.

To my surprise, he was eerily calm. My mom spidey-senses kicked in and I tried to probe without being intrusive. What I discovered is that he really was OK. In his own words, “What can I do about somebody else getting shot?”

As a mom of a Millennial Teenager, I have come to learn that things are much different than they were when I was growing up. School shootings were nearly unheard of in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, they are more common. When I was in high school disputes were settled after school, face to face with no weapons. Today,schools have metal detectors at the doors.

In order to experience a blissful relationship with your Millennial Teen, follow these three “simple-to-understand-much-more-difficult-to-execute” rules:

1. Don’t push. Most teenagers are moody. The combination of hormones, physical development and the search for independence exasperates that moodiness. Most teenagers just want to be understood, validated and accepted – by parents and peers. Communicating that they want to be accepted by you as their parent is uncool and will exclude them from acceptance by their peers. If you push too hard, you’ll push them away.

2. Acknowledge the realities of their world. The biggest mistake I made in my attempts to assess my son‘s emotional well-being was to presume that he should feel like I did. When truth is, he didn’t and he shouldn’t. It was a difficult reality to accept that my son knows more people who have been shot than I do. But for him, that reality and selling it short will invalidate for him that I understand.

3. Listen without judgment. When a major tragedy like this occurs, let your teenager speak freely without judgment. You’ll be surprised how insightful they can be and how easily they bounce back. As my man-child put it, even though he wasn’t over it, in a few weeks this would no longer be news and everyone would move on.

Enduring those moments immediately int he aftermath of the shooting were scary. But what would be even scarier is not being able to discuss it with my child and resolving his feelings. my feelings and the severity of its impact. But just as he predicted, most of his peers have moved on and it’s no longer news to be heard…or in his mind discussed.

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