Children, What Are We Missing? Please Tell Us.

A Northbrook mother addresses a local tragedy.

Tragedy has come to Northbrook again. And this tragedy is quiet. It grips at every parent’s soul because while we are not intimately involved, we each feel the need to weep long and hard for someone else’s loss.  

A young man in our community committed suicide this week. This is on the heels of a another suicide of a high school boy, and a year and a half after a beautiful young college student who grew up in Northbrook took her own life.

I don’t know why I feel the need to put my thoughts down for everyone to see. Maybe it is because we are all at a loss of what to do for these families. We think that maybe if the family knows that we are willing to make a meal, or help with an errand, some of their pain will subside.

I’m sure I am not the only one who has cried for these children and these families. I had never met these children. I am friendly with one of the mothers and have friends who are close with the other families.

We are in a stunned silence. Scared for our own children and our own sense of peace. But we aren’t quite sure what to do about it. We can talk to our children until the end of time about how we are ‘there’ for them. We can ‘help' them.

But can we really? Can we really help our children in the way that they need us to?

After these children’s deaths, Facebook became a living, breathing memorial to these boys.

“If you have kids - no matter what age - take a minute today to remind them that there is always a road home and always someone who can help - and make sure they know who all those people are.”

“If you feel that life's pressures are too great please find someone you trust to talk to about whatever may be getting you down. Remember you are LOVED!!!”

No words that I write here are going to convince a child not to take his or her own life.

But maybe we need to teach our children to trust in themselves and let them know that they truly CAN pull themselves out of the depths of their depression.  Give them the strength and the power to know that they CAN help themselves.

I hope as I raise my three girls into their teenage years, I will let them know that they have the control, the power and the ability to pull themselves beyond the world that they know at that moment.

Because, even though we know they will, these devastated families can’t put the blame on themselves. There must be something there that we all are missing. These are loving, caring and involved parents.

Children, please tell us. What are we missing??? We are frantic to know!

Please! We have to know!

Conversations with My Thirteen-Year-Old Self by Pink

Conversations with my thirteen year old self
Conversations with my thirteen year old self

You're angry
I know this
The world couldn't care less
You're lonely
I feel this
And you wish you were the best
No teachers
Or guidance
And you always walk alone
You're crying
At night when
Nobody else is home

Come over here and let me hold your hand and hug you darling
I promise you that it won't always feel this bad
There are so many things I want to say to you
You're the girl I used to be
You little heartbroken thirteen year old me

You're laughing
But you're hiding
God I know that trick too well
You forget
That I've been you
And now I'm just the shell
I promise
I love you and
Everything will work out fine
Don't try to
Grow up yet
Oh just give it some time

The pain you feel is real you're not asleep but it's a nightmare
But you can wake up anytime
Oh don't lose your passion or the fighter that's inside of you
You're the girl I used to be
The pissed off complicated thirteen year old me

Conversations with my thirteen year old self
Conversations with my thirteen year old self

Until we meet again
Oh I wish you well oh
I wish you well
Little girl
Until we meet again
I wish you well
Little girl
I wish you well
Until we meet again
My little thirteen year old me


Kati Spaniak is a 36-year resident of Northbrook, a former Northbrook Village Board Trustee and a Real Estate Broker with @properties specializing in selling real estate in Northbrook. Her GetInvolvedNorthbrook page is to keep the residents of Northbrook involved and active in the community.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Raymond Prusak June 30, 2012 at 07:19 PM
i've lived in northbrook for almost 20 years, and raised three children. growing up on the south side of chicago, i was always uncomfortable with the unceasing pressure applied to children from preshool to little league , to academics to popularity. i watched as my neighbors used their chidren as an extension of egos they needed assuaged by the success of those children. the pressure on these kids to excell in sports, academics and socially is increased by parents who view themselves as failures if that child does not equal the expectations they set. i have no idea behind the motivations of these young men, but i believe this is a moment for parents to examine their motivations for driving the competition at all levels of childhood. can they accept that their children are human beings in their own right, that they are not extensions of their own egos? kids need to be able to just pick up rocks in the dirt and hang with their friends on a lazy summer day.we sign them up for every activity we are interested in the sports we wanted to excell at when we were kids, summer camps, lessons on how to succeed at little league, softball, soccer, my goodness we don't let kids find their own niche but spoonfeed them our own preferences. children need to grow up without the pressures to reach platitudes set by parents. if the kids fail, they view themselves as failures, if they succeed, they have at times a feeling of emptiness because it was not their own success but that of another.
Kati Byrne Spaniak July 01, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Raymond, Thank you for your very well-thought out response. First, let me state that my comments below are general comments and questions about today's society and not about this tragic situation. I agree that there is so much pressure on kids today from us, as parents. And as one of those parents, I know that we all want 'better' for our kids. But the question is, how do we, as parents, stop what all the other parents are doing around us? Is it peer pressure for us as parents to involve our children in every single activity? Is it because we are considered to be 'good' or 'bad' parents based upon the involvement and the activities that we sign our children up for?
Swenk July 01, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Kati, your response to Ray underscores his point: If parents are so concerned with being 'considered good or bad,' so caught up in their own peer pressure, how do the kids stand a chance? They see parents worrying more about what the neighbors think than what their own kids think. And like your comments, mine have nothing to do with the loss of these two wonderful boys, both of whom were friends of my kids. The issues you're raising aren't exclusive to Northbrook; depression and teen suicide are rampant and massively misunderstood.


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