Peter Lanza is still reeling at his son’s death.
That’s understandable because Peter’s son was Adam Lanza, the young man who killed his own mother plus 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School before taking his own life in December 2012.
In a series of interviews with The New Yorker’s Andrew Solomon, Peter breaks his silence and opens up about his son.
Yet there’s only one line in the 7,600-word article that’s making headlines: “Peter declared that he wished Adam had never been born.”
Reading that takes your breath away. As even Peter admits, that wish is “not a natural thing, when you’re thinking about your kid.”
Even with the unspeakable evil perpetrated by Adam, most of us would still expect this dad to find a way to cling to what was good in his child.
I don’t mean that as an indictment against this beleaguered dad. It just shows how powerful the feeling of remorse can be.
Because remorse is exactly what Peter feels. The article describes how he “constantly thinks” about what he could have done differently. His mind goes back to the two years before the Dec. 14 tragedy – a time when Peter never once saw his son, who had lived with his mother after their divorce years before. As a result, Peter asks himself if he should have pushed harder to see Adam.
Too many of us dads are doing our best to parent our children well despite the fact we ourselves weren’t given an earthly example of a good dad. Sometimes it can feel like we’re making things up as we go along, and the frustration of not knowing what we’re doing can cause us to retreat from the task at hand.
For some, that withdrawal involves spending too much time at work or with a hobby. For others, it’s more literal.
And while I can understand the tendency to use a coping mechanism to deal with our perceived shortcomings as dads, may I offer you a simple piece of advice?
Don’t retreat. Don’t give up on your kids. Don’t lose your love for them.
Your children don’t need a perfect dad. They need you. You can grow into your role as a father, and you can overcome the obstacles of not having had a good dad yourself.
I’m on this journey myself. My biological dad left when I was five, after coming home drunk and threatening to kill my mom. I didn’t see him again for years. My stepfather, Hank, left after my mom died when I was only 9 years old. Dad came back into the picture when I was 11, but that, too, failed.
Now here I am, raising two amazing boys, Trent and Troy, with my wife, Jean. I admit there have been days when being a dad hasn’t come naturally to me, but by God’s grace I keep pressing forward. And as a result, there’s no way to describe the satisfaction and joy I receive from being a father to these two young men.
It’s something that, despite his best attempts at being a dad, Peter Lanza doesn’t have. My heart breaks for this man I’ve never met, because I can’t imagine the pain he’s in. I pray he can find the peace and comfort he so desperately longs for in the arms of our perfect Heavenly Father, who never gives up on us.