A lot of people have asked me how I feel about the two boys who robbed our boy's lemonade stand. It seems like most people assume I'm angry and would like to see them punished. Many have made remarks about making sure they "really pay" when they are caught, saying things to our boys like, "when they catch those boys, you make sure you punch them right in the nose for me." I can honestly say that doesn't resonate with me at all. Here are my strongest feelings about these two boys right now:
They are kids, they are beautiful and valuable human beings — same as my kids, same as me, same as anyone else — and they deserve to be respected, not on the basis of their actions but on the basis of their intrinsic worth. They have legitimate unmet needs, which, for whatever reason, they are trying to meet for themselves in destructive ways. Both—their destructive choices, and their unmet needs—are not okay.
They have been failed.
My family has been distressed by their actions — this past month has been difficult. But I can't possibly single out these two boys as the sole reason for that. It goes deeper, and the responsibility falls on many more people than just them.
We should stop being only concerned with seeing them punished, and start thinking about our responsibility toward them, which, yes, does include holding them accountable for destructive choices, but also includes helping them find a healthy way to have their needs met.
I don't know how to do that, and frankly, I don't have the energy to figure it out — I'm struggling just to be a good parent for my own kids.
But I do know that if it is just about punishing them, or separating them, or controlling them, we're ignoring the deeper problem and we will not solve anything. I think much of what is happening in our country right now is an exact result of this mentality.