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Barb Kromphardt

Of parents and children

There’s been two famous, or rather, infamous sets of parents in the news recently.

On Thursday, Randy and Amy Loughner got a good look at what hell must look like as they had the chance to sit in a courtroom and listen to the victims of their son, Jared Loughner. In January 2011, Loughner shot and killed six people and injured 13 more, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

At Thursday’s sentencing, they sat behind their son, weeping as his victims spoke.

Most of the victims didn’t blame them. Mavy Stoddard said he put no responsibility for Loughner’s actions on his parents, and Ron Barber told them, “I hold no animosity to you.”

Even the judge acknowledged Loughner’s parents made clear attempts to help him.

But Suzi Hileman, who was shot three times, didn’t agree.

She told Loughner, “Your parents, your schools, your community, they all failed you.”

Also on Thursday, author Andrew Solomon made the television talk show rounds promoting his new book “Far From the Tree,” which includes the story of Tom and Sue Klebold. They are the parents of Dylan Klebold, one of the two Columbine High School shooters, who killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves.

Solomon said he looked for the Klebolds to understand why such a thing could happen, and instead found a family as devastated by the murders as the rest of the community.

Solomon said Sue Klebold told him that once she heard what was happening, she prayed for her son to kill himself before he hurt anybody else.

Solomon then asked her what she would like to ask her son, and she replied, “I would ask him to forgive me for being his mother and never knowing what was going on inside his head.”

Like many people, I want to hate the Loughners and the Klebolds, to blame them for the actions of their sons.

As a parent, I want — I need — to think they deserved what happened to them. That they were selfish, thoughtless, uncaring people who raised monsters and then reaped their just rewards.

I have been incredibly blessed to have raised four wonderful children. Throughout the years, I have been congratulated when they have achieved one honor or another, and I’ve generally laughed it off.

“I don’t want to take credit for their successes because I don’t want to have to take the blame for their failures,” I would say light-heartedly.

But part of me has smugly taken credit for their successes, proof of the fact that I was such a wonderful mother.

And so I look at the Loughners and the Klebolds, and I want to think it was their fault.

Because the alternative — that having a child do something so horrific could happen to anyone, to me? — is simply too horrible to bear.

BCR Staff Writer Barb Kromphardt can be reached at bkromphardt@bcrnews.com.

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