Another Sad Day at Lake Forest High School

The death of a second teenager in two months reminds us, as parents and community members, how valuable--and vulnerable--our young people are.


Adolescence is hard, and for many of us parents, we’ve forgotten so many of the painful moments that it might be difficult to relate to our kids.

We are, after all, used to them simply being difficult. Add sullenness and it’s hard to know whether it’s “normal” moodiness or a real problem. It’s a shame that it takes an awful event to become aware of how fragile our young people really are.

When I saw the news this morning about , my mind started to race: did my kid know him? What’s the reaction among the students? How is the administration handling this? I work in the city and at moments like this it feels like another world.

I did get an early train home, just to be near my kid regardless of whether we wanted to talk about it. (There was very little discussion, but at least we were under the same roof.)

High school is difficult, and our kids are still, most of the time, just that: children, who need guidance and support even though they refuse it — or do a very good job of pretending to. There are times when they need to know that their parents are there for them.

Knowing that they’re not alone, an assurance that’s so easy to provide, may be what’s most needed at those unpredictable times of incomprehensible vulnerability.

Our kids might shut us off. I’ve been called an idiot more times than I can count (but not today, interestingly).

Given what happened yesterday in Ohio, and what happens far too often everywhere, it’s our duty not to shut them off. Parenthood, like adolescence, can be more demanding than it seems.

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Patricia Havrin February 29, 2012 at 03:22 PM
I would like to turn the clock back. Reacting to such news with a revisiting of family and community communications is a suggestion ripe for reality. My Lake Forest Junior son came home angry yesterday. This time not at me. His anger was directed at what he perceived as a great weakness of a student that takes a road that appeared easy, in the seventeen year old mind. We talk, and I ask him if he knows what warning signs to look for in his fellow students. His anger doesn't lend to logical thinking, and I encourage him to speak with the counselors at school. This is the son who wants to study psychology in college. Ralph - Thank you for sharing - nice to know that at times I am not the only "idiot" and "don't know anything" parent. In the past, when my kids attended a New England elementary school, it offered parent education workshops. Sitting in attendance I would see see the wife of a local judge, and doctor, grocery store clerks, stay at home moms, working moms, single moms, all with the shared interest of learning that they were not alone with the many challenges of parenting.
Ralph Keen March 01, 2012 at 10:58 AM
Anger, Patricia, is an interesting reaction, which (possibly like the indifference my kid displayed) may cover the stress of sensing that their peers are finding it impossible to cope with something in their common culture. Despite their protestations, we really can't be overly attentive to those signals that we're tempted to dismiss as adolescent moodiness.


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