What Sue Klebold Wants Parents to Know

Written by Janet Denison
Published on February 15, 2016

I recorded the 20/20 episode about Sue Klebold so that I could watch it carefully. I was curious about what she would say to Diane Sawyer. Sue’s son, Dylan, was one of the Columbine shooters. Most of the parents who will read this article will remember or be aware of Columbine. You were probably in junior high or high school when it happened. I want you to stop reading now and watch the video, if you haven’t already done that.

My oldest son, Ryan, was thirteen the day of the Columbine shooting. I remember thinking that all of the faces of the victims looked like his friends. I remember thinking the faces of the shooters, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, did as well. As the video states, most shooters come from two-parent homes, do well in school, and have never been arrested. Dylan Klebold was likeable, shy, and enrolled in the gifted classes at his school. As a teen, he was easily embarrassed and overly hard on himself. None of that seems particularly unusual. Tweens and teens go through the daily drama of physical changes, school stress, challenges with the opposite sex, and challenges with friends and peers.

Sue Klebold decided to speak up now because she wants to tell other parents the signs she missed and what she would do differently. School officials, law enforcement, and the adult community learned a lot after Columbine and are doing a better job of detecting trouble. Parents, however, are not objective and want to believe that the children they love are not capable of such major mistakes. Parents look for the good, hoping it will out-weigh the signs that are troubling to them. Sue Klebold was as shocked as the rest of the world to learn what her son had done at school that day.

Looking back, she realizes that there were things she could have done differently. She had been warned that Dylan’s good friend, Eric, was a troubled child. But Eric was always polite to her, so she disregarded those warnings. She was just glad that Dylan had someone to spend time with because he was so shy and had trouble making friends. Dylan began to lose interest in making good grades so she fussed at him, took away privileges and did all she could to motivate him to work to his full potential. Dylan spent a lot of time alone playing video games on his homemade computer. He was moody and didn’t want to talk about his life. Sue wrote those things off as normal, adolescent behaviors. Dylan was a senior in high school when he told his mom that he wanted her to respect his privacy. She awarded him that privilege and chose not to enter his room or check his computer. She believes that was her biggest mistake as a parent. Sue Klebold grieves for her son and for all the children that were killed at his hand saying that she, and all involved with the shooting, have been sentenced to “a life of grief with no parole.”

Sue Klebold has written a book, A Mother’s Reckoning, and will give all of the proceeds to mental health groups that work with troubled teens. She is choosing to speak up now because she wants to help. Here are some of the signs she, and psychologists, identify as warning signs that your teens might be in trouble:

  • Feeling that they are “unaccepted” by others
  • Their favorite music and movies are dark and violent
  • Deep involvement in violent video games or watching violent videos
  • Showing a strong interest and desire for guns
  • Making threats about violence to others or themselves

Many parents will breathe a sigh of relief after reading the list above, but Sue would ask you to be cautious. She didn’t know her son was involved in any of those things. She had concerns, but she thought Dylan was just a normal adolescent. She never dug deep into his life to find out otherwise. She chose to “respect” his privacy.

Sue Klebold made one statement that gave me chills. Diane Sawyer asked her if she believed in evil. Sue thought about the question for a moment and responded, “No.” That is when I decided to write this article. I do believe in evil and I do believe that all parents need to understand the biblical truth. I wish I had thought about it more often when my kids were teens.

Jesus was speaking to the Jewish leaders when he said, “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:43–44). Jesus was speaking to Pharisees who knew all about God and went to church everyday—but he told them they were following Satan. Parents, do not find comfort in the fact that your child attends church. Find comfort because your child walks with God. Do you see the character of Christ and the presence of his Holy Spirit in your child’s daily life? If not, pray and parent until you do. Attending church is a step in the right direction, but it does not guarantee a relationship with God.

Peter wrote, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Satan does want to attack your child and your family. Satan will lie and try to convince you that misbehavior is normal and you should expect and accept certain behaviors. Of course we have grace for our children’s mistakes, but are you offering them grace for repentance or grace no matter what? James warns, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 1:8). That is a conditional promise. Take some time to pray about these questions:

Do you believe in evil?

How are you fighting Satan’s attacks on your children?

Is there any behavior you are accepting as normal that God would tell you is unacceptable?

My generation didn’t grow up with videos, gaming systems, or the Internet. My generation wasn’t prepared for the attacks Satan would make on our children. The darkness has increased but there is something we can do about it. Jesus told his disciples, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

Pray for the children you have and the children you know. Prayer is our strong weapon against Satan and the Holy Spirit is ready to fight for you at any moment. Pray for your kids, every day and teach them to fight their own battles with Satan. Scripture says, “For he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Love your kids enough not to accept the things that God finds unacceptable. Sue Klebold would not have respected her son’s privacy if she had known what she knows today. We love our kids. We need to fight for them too. They are worth every prayer, every discipline, and every effort to make certain that evil doesn’t have the chance to harm them.

Before you close this article, pray for your children and the faces of those that God’s Holy Spirit will bring to your mind. They are worth every prayer offered, and God will honor your efforts.

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Janet Denison

Janet Denison teaches others to live an authentic faith through her writing, speaking, and teaching ministry. She blogs weekly at Foundationswithjanet.org and often at ChristianParenting.org.

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