The parents of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bombers, could not believe their sons committed the horrible crimes attributed to them. Certain facts have emerged from news media reporting which we as parents should be cognizant of how these same warning signals could impact our families. Consider these five facts:

1. The older brother Tamerlan, age 26, said, “I don’t have a single American friend. I don’t understand them.”

2. The uncle of the brothers, Rusian Tsarni, called the two boys, “Losers.” He relayed that they struggled to settle in the U.S. and they ended up “thereby just hating everyone.”

3. For the past five years, Tamerlan, the older brother, was becoming a follower of radical Islamist religious groups as was his mother. His activities in Russia got the attention of Russian security personnel. The Russian authorities contacted the FBI in 2011 and asked the FBI for assistance in investigating Tamerlan. Recently he got into a heated argument with a 18-year-old neighbor and espoused how the Bible is a poor version of the Koran, that U.S. troops are killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan, and “the United States uses the Bible as an excuse for invading other countries.” He had become more confrontational about his religion. He was told anymore outbursts at his Cambridge, Mass., mosque and he would be “out.”

4. Tamerlan’s application for U.S. citizenship was on hold. He was not chosen for the U.S. Olympic boxing team because he was not a citizen. He was married with a young child, but reportedly had no job. He was a community college dropout and was a disappointment to his parents especially his father. His younger brother, Dzhokhar, was considered by his parents to be a “true angel” and the smartest of the two brothers.

5. The younger brother, Dzhokhar, was failing his classes at the University of Massachusetts. He had been a very good student in a prestigious high school, was well liked by his classmates, was captain of his high school wrestling team, and was liked by an attractive co-ed. His residential adviser in his dorm reported “he talked about his brother in good terms.”

I recently attended a seminar on violence. Experts set forth that people resort to violence when they feel that they can wipe out shame only by shaming those who they feel shamed them. The most powerful way to shame anyone is by means of violence. The boys uncle is correct. The boys would be considered “losers.” They hate everyone and want to engage in violence.

What can we as parents learn from this experience.

1. Don’t let your son/daughter associate with older classmates/acquaintances. We see on a regular basis how a younger student is manipulated by older friends into doing their dirty work or fighting their battles. A young minor should not be spending time alone with an eleven or twelve-year-old. An 8th grader should not be associating with high school kids. Likewise, a freshman should not be associating with 10th grade or older high school kids. The maturity level is significantly different and it is much harder for the younger minor to say “No.”

2. If an older sibling is a “loser” and into very questionable behavior, a younger sibling should be told to stay away and not associate with them. Suppose an older sibling is a drug addict. Would you want the younger sibling/s to be hanging around with them? I don’t think so.

3. Be a parent. Parenting doesn’t stop at age 18. Don’t enable an older sibling who is on a self-destructive path to involve others. Banish them from the family until they are willing to stop their harmful ways. Warn other siblings to stay away from the older sibling. From what we know of the two brothers, the younger brother had a chance to lead a productive life if he had been kept away from the older brother’s jihad philosophy and his conspiracy to “shame” the United States.

What role the boys’ mother played in their turn toward radical Islamic beliefs is still not fully known. There is no question she became very strict about Islam and how she should dress upon Tamerlan’s urgings. Her marriage broke up about two years ago reportedly in part due to her fundamentalist Islamic beliefs and actions. The mother is wanted for stealing dresses from a department store and is subject to being prosecuted if she returned to the United States. Parents have no conception how their views can incite their children towards violence. The parents may be able to control their behavior, but their children may not be able to with devastating results.


Post Comment