I came across this today. Coming, as it does, in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, and in the wake of yesterday's post, it resonates with some of our experience. We've never feared for our lives with any of our kids, but we do understand what it's like to wonder what your kid is gonna do next, and what's gonna set him off this time? And to feel utterly helpless to do anything about it.
Friends of ours have dealt with something even closer to what Ms. Long describes - a grown son (brilliant, by the way; can't a few of these guys be dolts?) who would fly into rages and berate the stupidity of his parents, and any other authority figure at hand, and vandalize their house. He physically attacked his father (than whom he is considerably bigger) at least once, but thankfully, not with a weapon. But it's not a given that he never would.
I also understand the isolation that Ms. Long describes. I know another family whose mentally-ill son brought them unsolicited comments from 'friends', telling them what terrible parents they were, and that their son's deeds (which were suitably awful) were chargeable directly to their parental account. Thankfully, no-one has ever been quite so brash with us (frankly, it's doubtful anyone would say anything to us that we haven't already said to ourselves), and our children's misdeeds haven't landed them (or us) in the headlines (at least, not so far). But we have experienced some of our friendships becoming more 'distant' as doubts about our parental competence came to seem more plausible. (One of our friends did think it might be helpful to point out to us that "some people tell their children what to do, and they do it." Just, you know, in case we were wondering.)
As I've often said before, Jen and I have not been perfect parents (and if any of you have been, feel free to go ahead and chuck the first stone our way). But we've tried to do the best we could, and even so, our hearts have been broken. I think that might be one of the reasons that Newtown is hitting me so hard; I have some distant, dim idea of what it might have been like to be Adam Lanza's parents. . .