On Josh Powell: Why did he do that, Mom?

by | Mar 4, 2012 | Parenting/Family | 11 comments

There have been a number of tragedies lately.

The ones involving children… are nearly unbearable.

Like what Josh Powell did.

My son (12) heard about this father who killed himself  and his little boys from classmates.

I do not tell my kids about tragedy unless it is necessary.

I didn’t bring up what happened with my kids because I didn’t want to tell my kids parents kill their kids.

I pause to digest that reality… …

But the news spread and on the way to the bus stop one morning my son asked…

Some kids at school said there was this dad who blew up his house and killed his kids. Why did he do that, Mom?

My heart dropped.


How does a mother explain to a child why a parent would kill his own children?

I kept the details vague, but took the opportunity to share with my son how one bad decision can lead to more bad decisions… how one’s heart can harden as one consistently chooses to not do the right thing… and eventually your mind becomes sick. One’s heart become hard. Uncaring. One becomes so accustomed to not choosing what is right, it eventually loses it’s ability to… well… care.

I honestly have no idea what happened with Josh Powell, but I know I want my son to learn something beyond the evil of what happened.

I brought it around to us and our choices and why we talk a lot about choosing the good. And choosing right. And being kind. Being mindful.

When I think of these examples I think of Ephesians 4:27 and the “foothold of the Devil”. Those moments of temptation that open up a different path…

But whatever one’s belief system… the example applies. There are these moments where we get to choose. Occasionally there is ONE LIFE CHANGING moment that redirects everything. But I feel overall our direction is shaped by moments and choices built on more moments and choices. Like rock climbing and footholds. Combine it all with not taking a moment to look where each chosen foothold is leading… we end up in places.

My fear in talking to my son about what Josh Powell did was having to admit, as a parent, that there are parents who have killed their own children. This is one of the most heartbreaking things to ever have to discuss with one’s own child.

In the end, we were able to bring it around and make it something he was be able to learn from.

And I think he saw it. He seemed to “get” it… the concept that we need to work and effort in making overall good choices so that we do not become hard-hearted. That we need to be looking at our choices as steps in our development as people who are compassionate, people who are caring and people who change the world for good.

But it still sucks and breaks my heart.


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