Anonymous_youth_in_red_hoodieIn a world where it is possible for an  individual to commit mass murder, who is really in control? This is the unsettling question we ask ourselves in the wake of the recent mass murders in Gilroy, and over the weekend in El Paso and Dayton, and with the other mass murders in our recent past. There are no words to express the agony of this violent loss of precious life experienced in these beautiful communities and families, and our desperate desire to condemn and stop such hateful acts of violence!

The politicians and media personalities offer up their opinions about getting control over hate, violence and murder which often leaves us divided. For what it’s worth, I have observed that our opinions seek to fix blame rather than find solutions in ways that embrace all stakeholders involved and agree to regulate ourselves as an open affirmation of a shared respect for human life.

We are all grappling with abundant, streaming evidence that never before have we had so little perceived control over the security of our children. It is the demonization of the differences in our humanity that keeps us in a state of blaming the “other” (be it gender, generation, ethnicity or creed) for our grief and inhibits efforts to find common ground in response to hateful and murderous acts.

Indeed we are witnessing how a house divided cannot heal.


What can parents do?

Demonizing others is not new, but it is amplified in the cyber-powered media culture we and our children are navigating. While, I am not a politician, nor a theologian, I am an American mom with a heart for Jesus Christ. And I believe that every human being regardless of gender, generation, ethnicity or creed has been endowed by our Creator with intelligent life and free will which is power over our own thoughts and actions that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the hopeless thoughts and experiences associated with tyranny, violence, addiction and adversity.

When I think about this question, “who is in control?” in response to outrageous behavior, a deeper level of inquiry emerges in my own mind: how can we find common ground to establish and implement prevention strategy and counter violent extremism?

Ancient philosophers speak of this human inquiry about security and control. One that seems very appropriate in this moment is from Greek philosopher, Epictetus who is quoted: “It is not what happens to you, it’s how you react to it that matters.”  As a behavioral scientist, I have come to appreciate that the only true power we have is to choose the thoughts that dominate our own hearts and minds and drive our reactions to violent behavior. Our children need to learn how to take responsibility for their own thoughts and actions – especially when they are feeling isolated or under attack.

Therefore I choose to take a stand by not allowing what I experience in my own backyard or via the constant streaming of cyber-powered media to rob me of hope for a better future and distract me from my role in building human connection in my family and community to defend this hope. For I know my part in this challenging time is to keep the faith that fuels my own commitment to foster prevention strategy in my family, church, and community.

When I think about this question, “who is in control?” in response to outrageous behavior, a deeper level of inquiry emerges in my own mind: how can we find common ground to establish and implement prevention strategy and counter violent extremism?

Renovating home as a place to reconnect

Thirty-five years of parenthood has taught me a lot about my own humanity which I share with my children. I consider myself to be a reformed mom in this way.  In the early years, I used to believe that I was responsible for my children’s behavior (because I said so and God agreed with me), and that my house rules and laws of our land would ensure obedience.

Well, my lived experience as a parent of teenagers during the emergence of mobile connectivity in the hands of youth (circa 2004) has taught me that power (or authority over conduct) actually resides in  human relations defined by connection, not by authority figures and their rules. This authentic human connection  inspires a sense of secure belonging to something greater: love. While the rules are simply tools for instruction on self-discipline and trust. Governing behavior involves few rules as rally points for lots of open communication about what is happening in life, especially shame-inspiring experiences, so that wisdom can be imparted. Hence, authentic connection within the spiritual realm of heart and mind is required.


Relational characteristics of tech-avvy youth

Perhaps you may agree that the youth who commit mass murder as a way to get justice for their grief are governed by anger, which does not connect with any intellect. They have chosen to become tools of fear emotion, and as a result are disconnected from love. Sadly it is learned behavior hyped via social media. Paradoxically, this disconnect might also represent the hope for our humanity in that responding to adversity with love or hate involves free will. It is always a choice that can be influenced by connection and education at home and in the community. Therefore, let us continue to do our part to foster connection.


Below are some insights which worked for me as I learned how to parent free will through connection in a cyber-powered world:

  • A good way to facilitate authentic human connection with your child (so they will want to know what you know) is by taking responsibility for how you manage undivided attention. This is your power to connect and redirect.
  • Get interested in who your child is as a person and what interests them, without insisting on offering your opinion. For example, if your child is very interested in gaming, let them tell you about it and show you what they find interesting and fulfilling about it. And then have conversations about setting limits as an exercise of empowerment if their attention is becoming consumed by gaming.
  • Encourage your child to consider that they already have power, and your job is to help them learn how not to give up their power to the bully, the drug or the device. If you have a few house rules that reinforce your values (honesty, transparency, trust, and consequences with a clean slate), then your child will be more inclined to talk with you about what’s happening so you can offer guidance and wisdom.
  • Get them thinking for themselves, and not believing every thought and experience presented to them on and offline.
  • Most importantly, give your child permission to interrupt you. And when they do, be patient and give them undivided attention.

IMPORTANT. If you suspect your child is struggling with emotional or mental health issues, contact Joanna for a list of resources. Now is the time to get educated about the human condition, your child, and the resilience you can reflect back to them in their struggle.

ALSO check out: The Role of a Parent in Healing a Suffering Child: Insights about Love and Suffering in the Family.


About:  We are a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. Our mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device.

Peace on earth begins with peace at home.

Core Connectivity – A Foundation to Empower Families


Core Connectivity is an initiative of Banana Moments Foundation. When you shop at Amazon via AmazonSmile, Amazon will make a donation to Banana Moments Foundation.



Joanna Jullien, Founder & CEO of Core Connectivity
Photo by: Victoria Hatch

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and consultant on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber-powered world. She is a former technology executive trained in behavioral science at U.C. Berkeley, a mother of two grown sons, and an author of books for practical guidance on parenting, growing up and family life in the network culture. As a family and technology culture advisor, Joanna has appeared on 103.9FM The Fish, 710AM Keeping Faith in America, 1380AM The Answer, and