What I want you to know about being the parent of a child who has done something terrible

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series click here. Today’s guest post is by Anonymous.


I wish people knew more about what it's like to be the parent of a child who has done something terrible.

Our kid committed a serious bodily crime against another member of our household. Sometimes I feel like our entire family story revolves around that fact. Our child's actions negatively affected every person and every relationship in the household, in the most profound ways. Everyone has been through lots of therapy, but it's still one of the most painful things to think or talk about.

We've been assured in therapy that as parents, we are not to blame for what he did, but that's not what the rest of the world thinks, so we keep this information pretty close to home, to protect our own reputation, as well as our child's. I cringe every time I hear the things people say about abusers, because someone that I love dearly has been an abuser, and while I in NO WAY excuse his behavior, I also have to believe that he has been redeemed, that his life still has purpose and value, and that I'm not wrong to think that we still play a role in helping him find it. How can you think otherwise about your own child? When they do something so terrible at such a young age, they literally don't understand the long term ramifications of what they are doing for themselves or their victim. One one hand, I can't hold something that he did as a preteen against him for ever. On the other hand, he is grown now, and even so many years later, it's always in the back of my mind when I think about him.

Our family's experience also makes me oddly sympathetic to the perpetrators as well as the victims when I read news stories about terrible crimes. I find myself wondering about the circumstances in their lives that led them to the moment that their crime was committed. I cry for them and their parents, because I understand that any parent in the world could end up standing in those shoes.



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