Love, Always

Why people do terrible things — and how we can all make it stop.

A few weeks ago, a friend wrote to me to share a deeply upsetting story.

A man that she knew — that her family had known, for many years — had been accused of sexually molesting young girls.

My friend asked me, “Suzanne, I am feeling so horrified. So powerless and upset. Is there anything that we — as members of the community — could have possibly done to stop this from happening?”

The answer to my friend’s question is:

Yes.

There is something that could have been done.

Lots of things, actually.

And ultimately, it all comes down to parenting.

If this man had been parented differently — particularly during the first six years of his life, when our attitudes about sexuality are formed — this tragedy might have been prevented.

If these young girls had been parented differently — if they had been more closely supervised by their parents — this tragedy might have been prevented.

When parents do their job correctly — providing unconditional love, but also firm rules and unyielding supervision — then children have a great shot at growing up healthy and strong.

When parents do not do their job correctly — when they shame their children, ignore them, withhold love and affection, neglect them and / or allow them to navigate through the world, unsupervised — that’s when tragedies are more likely to happen.

I am not writing these words to point fingers.

This is not an issue of “blame.”

Every human being has free will. As adults, we can choose to do what is right, or we can choose to engage in unhealthy, distorted, or even criminal behavior.

It serves no purpose to “blame the parents” when an adult chooses to do something wrong.

But if the question is, “How can we prevent terrible things from happening?”

The answer does, ultimately, track back to parenting.

Parents, I am urging you: Please be exceptionally careful and intentional about the way that you raise your kids. Please strive, every day, to become the best possible parent you can possibly be.

By doing this, you will give your child the best possible chance at a happy, healthy, well-adjusted life.

By doing this, you will play a HUGE role in creating a world where terrible things… do not happen.

Just imagine if every single child, from this day forward, was raised with unconditional love, clear boundaries and strong morals. If every child was given the gift of healthy self-esteem, and a healthy relationship with his or her body and sexuality. If every child knew how to give and receive love, and knew right from wrong.

Imagine a world with no serial killers, rapists or molesters.

That world can be created.

It is possible.

But only if all of us play a part.

It begins with each parent, each home, each child.

It is a responsibility shared by all of us.

To me, this feels like the opposite of blame.

This is hope.

This is purpose.

This is solace.

xo.

16 Comments
  1. What an incredibly, powerful blog. I am practically speechless. I am also filled with hope. You do incredible work. Very grateful.

    • Hi Syd: I hear you… and I am grateful that this post offered hope. Thank you for your heartfelt comment.

  2. I watched you on TV towards the end of last month & I was struck by your positivity. You did it again here — thanks for paving the way to turn tragedy into growth. The world needs more thought-leaders like you.

    • Hi Aimie: You’re very welcome. I’m touched that you found value in the TV segment, and in this post.

      As long as we’re learning and growing, even just a little bit — every day, we’re doing our part to help restore the world back to the beautiful place it was intended to be. And that… is a blessing. :)

  3. This post touches home for me. I never looked at it from this perspective. I feel like I now have a way to heal, instead of hate. So thankful.

  4. Today I am going to pay more attention to my child, and be more mindful of the messages I am giving my child. That’s one of the big take-aways from me from this meaningful post. Bless you.

  5. The statement: “As adults, we can choose to do what is right, or we can choose to engage in unhealthy, distorted, or even criminal behavior,” really resonates with me. That applies to all of us. That applies to choices family members and friends make. Thanks for your insightful posts.

  6. As a former police officer (that doesn’t mean, I drove a tractor) I witnessed some horrific situations, aftermath and conditions.

    I’m grateful that I never encountered children being abused or seriously injured. However, I can still remember seeing very young children (5 or 6 years of age) playing in the street. The fact that it was a backstreet with minimal traffic is insignificant. I contacted those children and persuaded them to play in their backyard. Those babies had no supervision, no prospects of future guidance, and I find that both disturbing and sad.

    In other words, I agree with your insightful observations and information.

    • Hi Ron: I can only imagine the situations that your line of work exposed you to. The neighborhoods that were under your watch, as well as the children who lived there, were obviously extremely fortunate to have you as their protector.

      Thank you for sharing your support for this blog post.

  7. Thank you for the insightful post. And for providing a solution to the problem rather than just focusing on the problem / negativity.

    I find that the media, especially the news, primarily focuses attention on all of what is wrong with the world and the heinous things out there. It is tiring and upsetting. More balance is needed!

    Thanks again.

    • Hi Melinda: I agree with you about the polarization of so much of the media coverage towards negativity.

      What’s the point of making the public aware of what is wrong, without presenting the fix, as well… especially when there ARE solutions?

      Or,

      At the very least, also share some of the wonderful things that are happening in our world… precious babies being born or taking their first step… someone getting their dream job or achieving an important goal, etc.

      ‘Nough said, I can feel myself starting to get revved up (in a good way!). I’ll save that energy for another blog post. Stay tuned. :)

  8. Thank you, Dr. Gelb,

    As a survivor, and as the mother of survivors who disclosed, Yes!, I agree we need to talk about how healthy hands-on-parenting can protect children and raise healthier adults.

    Thank you for doing this and for doing it in a way that doesn’t blame or shame me for my past inability to discern my ex-husband’s deceptions, manipulations, and covert abuse. I know better now.

    I also advocate for understanding how sex offenders think and behave in order to protect children and teens, and also to offer sex offenders real hope for the possibility of change.

    Here are a couple of links to my writing on being married to a sex offender and on recognizing sex offenders:

    http://convergemagazine.com/sex-offenders-midst-13681/

    http://convergemagazine.com/sex-offender-11944/

    Thanks again.