Today is the 4th Annual National Fatherhood Day

In the spirit of the 4th Annual National Fatherhood Day, March 29, 2018, I’d like to talk about Nikolas Cruz and the Parkland, FL shootings.
Cruz was adopted. Adoption is a beautiful thing. It give adults the children they want, and, perhaps, could otherwise not have. And it gives a child a home.
However, if a child never meets or has time to understand his or her biological parents, then he or she also is deprived of the best manner of learning about and understanding him or herself. Why do we do the things we do? Why do we feel the things we feel? A lot of this is genetic. By seeing our parents behaviors and reactions, we can understand from where our own originate. This helps give a person context for life. Cruz, if he never met his biological parents, lacked this clarity and insight.
While we are yet to learn the details of his home life, we know that Cruz’s adopted father died. This created another hole in his “context” for his life. While his adopted father would not provide him with insight into his innate personality traits, having a father gave him a context for the world- it provided him with “family”.
So, at the stage of another new loss, Cruz’s life context – and structure- is further chipped away at.
There is an internal stress gauge that build up in a child. One can only handle so much loss and confusion and stress.
Eventually, Cruz’s mother died while he is still a teen.
The loss of all life’s contexts and structures was likely all the boy could take. As for his biological mental state- whether he was prone or predisposed to mental illness despite all his losses, I don’t know. Whether all the stress and loss and confusion triggered a mental breakdown, we are also yet to learn.
But the cornerstones of a youth’s life (in fact, of anyone’s life) are “context” and “structure”. Without consistent “structure” in a youth’s life, and without an understanding of “self” through one’s parents to give a context for one’s feelings and emotions, bad things can happen. Confusion, at the least, can set in.
Obviously… I would hope that it’s obvious …. I don’t seek to excuse Cruz. Explaining and understanding these events and deconstructing the perpetrators is our best hope to prevent re-occurrences. Gun restrictions are one issue. Security in schools another. But tumultuous and explosive personalities, and desperate and hurting actors, are the primary issues that need addressing.
On this National Fatherhood Day, and hereafter, take the time to look around your community- starting with your kids’ friends- and see whose lives are in turmoil due to death of a parent, abandonment, apparent abuse, or some other impetus that has led such youth to act out in strange and concerning ways. Pay attention. Reach out.
Hearts and minds are the first lines of defense to acts of rage and hate.
-NEIL SISKIND, President & Chairman
National Fatherhood Day, Founder