Parents are not Responsible for their Children’s Behavior

As far as I know, this is not a legal ruling – but I am not aware of any situation where parents have been punished for their children’s behavior – no matter how bad that has been. The reason for this is clear: adults make the laws, not children.

I am watching Gladiator Days: Anatomy of the Prison Murder. The first part is about some adolescents, two boys and a girl, all from broken homes in Las Vegas, who murdered a man – for no clear reasons. They are all doing life sentences. It is clear from their interviews that they had no appreciation for what they were doing – they were just killing someone, no big deal.

In my opinion, their families were to blame – but since these were so poorly structured – and parenting was so casual for them, almost an accident – it is hard to pin the blame on anyone. We are left with the conclusion that society as a whole has failed them – which it certainly has. It has gone to great lengths to prosecute them, and will spend fortunes just to keep them in jail – which makes them feel morally justified – but this whole exercise solves nothing.

Society does not ask parents “Why are you having children?” Or say “You screwed up as parents!” It just assumes everyone has that right – whether they are competent or not. Usually, in my opinion, they are not.

This has been part of Psychology’s answer to diseases such as Schizophrenia: parents are not responsible for it in their children. My ex suffered from this, and killed herself because of it. But therapists and social workers assured her mother she was not responsible for this – or the permanent institutionalization of all her children. It was just a chemical problem in the brain, they said, and science was soon going to find out just what that problem was – maybe in ten years – this was over thirty years ago.