Tim Butler

Counselor, Life Coach & Speaker

The Power Of Relationships

The blogs will be numerous on this very tragic and sudden topic of innocent children and adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Multiple blogs will facilitate highlighting awareness to the various facets of this tragedy.

Certainly the foremost issue at this point is the parent’s loss as a result of the death of their children. Having gone through the loss of my own daughter 10 years ago, I can relate to the great chasm created by such an event and the deep depressive fall each grieving parent will find themselves uncontrollably thrust into. Pray for their comfort as they attempt to move on and rebuild from this event. Pray for them in the months and years to come. Their journey will be long.

As a clinician in the mental health field I am intimately acquainted with those who suffer from emotional and mental illness. Whereas there are no easy answers, there are some points that need to be made.

First, let me say that I have no more knowledge of the specific details of the shooter, Adam Lanza, than you have. We have all read the same news accounts and everyone is searching for the same answer to the elusive question…Why?

Let me state this with certainty; emotionally healthy and mentally sane people do not kill innocent children—with all due respect to those who advocate for greater restrictions of gun sales.

From what we know today, the shooter was not healthy emotionally and probably not stable mentally. Clearly we cannot legislate common sense, and we will never be able to eradicate horrific things being done by those with evil intentions.

It also seems the shooter lacked healthy relationships—either friends or family. Clearly there were many reasons for this, not the least of which is the relational limitations that a mentally/emotionally challenged person struggles with.

However, that leads me to at least one thing to learn from this event: The power of relationships to prevent unhealthy actions and promote normalicy and empathy.

Kids with healthy relationships with their parents tend to be healthier as adults; even kids with mental illnesses. Parents, who model healthy relationships with each another, will serve the children well in developing healthy, nurturing relationships themselves.

In my practice I am seeing more and more families that are broken by divorce, lack of emotional self-control, or, severely hampered by both parents working full time and choosing not to make time for being a relational parent. Kids grow up creating their own version of reality, rather than having a healthy parent guiding them into truth, with morals and values. Kids are learning “reality” from the preponderance of violent video games. Killing becomes a game.

If you have the privilege of being a parent (biological, adoptive, foster, grandparent), make it your plan to be an active, healthy parent. I have yet to meet with with any school-aged child who tells me they prefer to spend less time with their parents.

The breakdown of the family is a major contributor—if not the major contributor—of many of the social ills we are witnessing today. Kids are learning to be adults though the broken and uncontrolled lives of their parents. Much more is caught, than taught, when raising children.

What are they seeing in your shadow?

Parents need to be healthy themselves—body, soul, spirit—so they can model healthy relational living to the ones they love the most.

Take time to be an active parent today, and all the days of their young, formative years. The payback will be a healthier family and a healthier community.

Maybe then we will be in a better place to see how “these tragedies must end” as spoken by our President on Sunday evening.