COMMENTARY — Parents: Are you really noticing what your kids are saying & doing?

The dad Screencap via YouTube

The father of the young man — we will not use either name — who massacred innocent people at a 4th of July parade from a rooftop in Highland Park, Illinois, told The New York Post last week he and his son had a detailed conversation the day before the shooting about people who commit mass murders. 

The murderer, apparently, told his dad he couldn’t understand how people could fire upon innocent citizens, as has happened so often in this country, on what seems like a daily basis.

When I read this, I was close to screaming in disgust. And it wasn’t all because of the conversation they apparently had, but because pops would go on to say he had absolutely no suspicions his son was — what we all know now — a psychopathic homicidal maniac. Yes, I get it — this kid needed seriously intense psychological help that he did not get. But it’s too late now to matter.

And it begs the question: How could a father, who still lives with his son, not know his child, irrespective of age, not see the signs? They were everywhere — in videos, in social media posts, in posters on his bedroom walls. 

How, when his son asked him to sign off as a reference to buy weapons of war, did this man not even suspect his son could use the weapon to eliminate innocent people in a sleepy, affluent Chicago suburb? Could this man really be listening to his son? Could he be so oblivious to what I know as plainly obvious, not to see the signs his kid was in a state of serious mental anguish?

Though I am not a father, I always prided myself when I was an educator on having an ability to know the moments something was wrong with any number of my students. Young people don’t exactly hide it when they’re in a world of pain. I know, with certainty, because a student told me so, that my words were able to stop/prevent a suicide. And, there were instances I was certain could have led to a kid seeking a gun to harm others.

So if I could sense these things, not having a child of my own, how could a man, who knew his son for 20+ years, and who lived with him, not detect even a single sign? It’s impossible to fathom. And it begs another question: Parents, are you really listening to what your kids are saying — and are you paying close enough attention to their actions, their words, their emotions? 

Please, don’t let an opportunity to save others pass by. If one dad in Illinois did a better job of paying attention, multiple lives could have been spared. Do you want to be the next parent to have missed warning signs? Please, be aware and beware. We just can’t go on like this anymore.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.