Deceived parents

How many times have we heard the variation of “my child would never do something like that”, even in the face of overwhelming evidence demonstrating the child/teen in question did do “something like that”? In the case of Trayvon Martin, the Latin Times has several quotes from Trayvon’s parents repeatedly referring to the deceased 17 year-old as a “kid” who was “afraid”. And 18 year-old Michael Brown has been described numerous times as a “gentle giant”, and Brown’s mother has recently said that she believes Brown was running for his life.

When a parent is told their child was acting up in daycare, or their child is described as a bully, some parents respond with utter disbelief. And one thing that has been an ongoing source of frustration is how deceived parents tend to be about their children, almost to the point of believing that their children are incapable of anything but doing good.

Trayvon Martin’s parents, along with much of the public, want to believe that Trayvon was gunned down by a racist, trigger-happy white man for merely walking down the sidewalk. Quoting Sybrina Fulton:

My son was profiled, followed and murdered by George Zimmerman, and there was nothing accidental about that.

And again,

Instead of placing the blame on the teenager, we need to place the blame on the responsible adult. There were two people involved. We had an adult who was chasing a kid, and we had a kid who I feel was afraid.

And with Michael Brown, in a recent interview with “CBS This Morning”, Lesley McSpadden said this with regard to the allegation that Brown attacked Wilson and charged at him after being ordered to get on the ground:

I know my son far too well to know he wouldn’t ever do anything like that. He wouldn’t do anything to provoke anyone to do anything to him, and he wouldn’t do anything to anybody.

Michael Brown, Sr., the decedent’s father, said this:

For one, my son, he respected law enforcement. Two, who in their right mind would rush or charge at a police officer that has his gun drawn? It sounds crazy.

The site Truth About Deception has this to say about children and lying:

For better or worse, parents teach their children how to lie and then get upset when their children use deception for their own purposes.

In fact, children are quick to learn that lying can be useful when trying to avoid punishment, create a better image, influence other’s behavior, or form their own identity.

Children, with higher IQs, who are more socially outgoing, or who are raised in a controlling family environment are more likely to use deception.

Unfortunately, deceptive behavior tends to increase over time, especially during the teenage years, when children are trying to assert their independence.  And to make matters more complicated, teenagers tend to put rewards ahead of risks, causing them to act more carelessly (and often more deceptively) than parents would like.

The first paragraph is quite telling: parents teach their children how to lie, and then get upset when their children lie. Along with this, parents tend to form in their minds a misrepresentation of their children, often a very rosy picture of their children. We hear parents say, again “My child would never do something like that” or, when the evidence is so overwhelming as to be undeniable, “I couldn’t imagine him doing something like that”. The expressions of disbelief in the face of evidence is certainly a natural reaction — we just don’t want to believe those we love are capable of abhorrent acts.

But what you want to believe about a person and their nature does not override the evidence demonstrating a chain of events.

Evidence demonstrates that Trayvon Martin initiated contact with George Zimmerman that led to his death. Evidence demonstrates that Michael Brown initiated the chain of events that led to his death, responding to an officer’s request to move to the sidewalk (he was walking in the middle of the street) by attacking the officer in such a way that the officer feared for his life, then charging at the officer after being ordered to surrender.

That, again, is the evidence. No statement by anyone as to who they believed Brown or Martin to be will override that. Instead all they can do is recognize that they were deceived by their deceased loved ones and move on.