Parenting Teenagers: Teens Who Kill Their Parents

This is a topic that I have been meaning to write about for a long time. It is clearly the right time for me to discuss this topic now given how frequently we are hearing about teens and murder in the same sentences. I believe that we have a profile of teens who shoot up schools. These teens tend to feel like social outcasts and seek revenge by shooting those who they feel rejected them. Because we seem to be focusing on these teens I would like to move on to a less frequently discussed  and focused upon topic.

I am interested in an equally or perhaps even more horrifying and revolting topic and that is teens who kill their parents. The word for this is parricide and is likely to be unfamiliar to many of you. You should also know that patricide refers to killing one’s father and matricide refers to killing one’s mother. I hope you are still with me because it is crucial that we understand life at its most joyous and most repulsive. I would also like to reassure you that parricide continues to be a relatively rare event. The idea that a child could have so much hatred and rage against those who are supposed to be nurturing them is an almost unbearable concept, correct?

Nonetheless, since I have made it my life goal to understand the psychological dynamics of all things both joyous and gruesome I went on a pretty exhaustive (yes the pun is intended) search of what some common characteristics are of kids who kill their parents and found that there is not a lot of information available in the literature. I did, however, come across a review of the research by Sara West M.D. of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Mendel Feldsher M.D. of Patton State Hospital. Their review was published in the journal Current Psychiatry.

Here are the commonalities that were found among juveniles who kill their parents or stepparents:

1. They are more likely to be teen boys. This does not seem to be a surprise because males in our culture tend to be more aggressive than females.
2. They tend to lack a history of psychosis. This is a surprise. Many of us have erroneously made the assumption that a child must be psychotic in order to be capable of killing a parent.
3. They may be motivated to some extent by a history of long-term parental abuse. Perhaps, but most kids who are abused do not murder their parents.
4. They often report feeling relief rather than remorse after committing the most heinous of crimes. This is a very intense and important concept.
5. They are more likely to kill stepparents than biological parents. It is unclear why this is the case. Perhaps they feel less of an attachment to stepparents.

I am determined to learn more about the whys of this type of crime and how teen killers of parents differ from adults who kill their parents. I am also interested in finding out about how they feel about the crime once they reach adulthood.

I am currently on a mission to get more answers. I hope to have answers from a variety of different sources to you in several installments over the course of the next year. Please stay with me as I’ll need your support during this grueling process.