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When 10-year-old Ashlynn Connor killed herself just over a year ago, the immediate reaction was that it must have been bullying that caused it.

However, according to the final investigative report, bullying wasn't a major factor in Ashlynn's death. Instead this was a girl who was living in a home with adults who weren't themselves completely stable, no father around, and six siblings who, among them, have three different last names, none of which was the same as Ashlynn's.

Although Ashlynn may have had difficulties with people, and had asked to be homeschooled, in third grade already, she had told a boy that she considered to be her boyfriend, that if he would ever break up with her, she'd kill herself. Not only is this a sign of somebody who is controlling, but it is also an indication of someone who has serious issues.

In these articles, we find out too, that Ashlynn's mother had attempted suicide twice, and with the second time, her children found her and had to get her help. Upon hearing that Ashlynn was dead, her grandmother had to be restrained to keep her from slitting her wrists.

I'm sure that it is true that mental illness does run in families, but I have to wonder what percentage of that is due to the mental illness actually being passed down, and how much is due to the children of mentally ill people being stuck in a home full of madness and picking up many of those bad habits in large part because they don't know any better. I cannot imagine that in Ashlynn's short life that there was any way that she could have learned to handle her emotions and dealings with people in any sort of constructive way. Her mother said that she had complained about people being mean to her, but with a child that is so developmentally comprimised emotionally, it seems as though she had a very hard time dealing with the normal ups and downs of what is life.

However, I hardly think that Ashlynn's case is unique, although her story is more "spectacular" than most. In the last 30 years or so, there has been a shift in society, from where parents expected children to learn to live with and overcome personal adversity, to a point where all roads need to be cleared in order to protect a child's "self-esteem". Of course, children do need support and guidance in learning how to deal with the outside world, but by not allowing them to learn how to do a little fending for themselves, even when they are little, they never learn how to do it, and we are left with what we have today, which is an untold number of adults who have grown up, but remain emotional children.

Puzzles

Nov. 15th, 2012 10:55 pm
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Tabitha, at not quite three, often amazes me with the things she can do if she puts her mind to it. I bought a set of "Very Hungry Caterpillar" frameless puzzles that were on sale a few months ago. Tabitha tried them out, and they were way over her head, even with help. I tried to keep them out of sight afterward, since any toy around here with multiple pieces has a propensity for ending up dumped out all over the floor.

Recently, the box with the puzzles has been moved, and so Tabitha begged and begged to play with the puzzles again. I finally relented, and we went through putting the four puzzles (ranging from 9 to 16 pieces) together. She paid attention, and seemed to understand some of what I was trying to explain to her about pieces with the caterpillars "little red head" having to go together, but the shocking thing is that now she can put all four puzzles together without any help.

Of course, she's no expert yet, and a lot of what she does is see tabs and holes and try to fit them together irrespective of whether it logically fits, but that's a skill that takes time to master. She does recognize when things fit together, and she's happy to get them done, because then she can take it apart and start a new one.

I can't help but think of the many little kids who even come into kindergarten not having experienced things like putting puzzles together. Many kids, even if they have had puzzles, has there been anyone around to help explain the task and set their mind on it, rather than just saying, "here kid, play with this". As adults, it's nearly impossible to sit down with a new computer program and use it with any sort of competence without some sort of instruction or guidance. How much harder, then, for children to know what to do with so many things in this world without a little help - and how much further prepared for life the children are who have had the help to get them started!
mituns: (Default)
There have been many news stories over the last few years documenting the phenomenon of (relatively) young people who either never moved out of their parents' homes or have returned reato their parents after moving out for awhile.

Undoubtedly, some of this is due to the economy and some of it is due to a culture that allows young people to be treated as adolescents for an extended period of time.

However, there are two more reasons I think this has become so prevalent have more to do with demographics than with anything else.

First of all, most people coming of age these days do not come from large families. There have always been some children who never move out of their parents' home, but if one comes from a large family and has to share everything with siblings, it becomes much more of a goal for a young person to get to the point as quickly as possible to get to a point in one's life to finally have things of one's own. With fewer or only children, they already have this sense without having to move out to get it. Secondly, if one has 10 children and one never moves out, that's a much smaller percentage than a family that has two children and both live in the parental home well into adulthood. Furthermore, especially when it comes to only children, I believe that many have the idea that they will inherit what their parents have, and so why bother moving out or buying a house of one's own when, logically, that child may very well end up with the parental home in the long run anyway.

The other demographic reason that I believe that contributes to adult children staying with their parents is the prevalence of divorce among the parents. Divorce is now ubiquitous among the generation that now has adult children. Many of these people would rather have their adult children at home with them (and the adult children are willing to oblige) rather than to face so many years of being alone. Ironically, this situation often handicaps the children from being able to deal with adult relationships as adults.

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September 2013

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