"The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 44 Old 07-23-2008, 09:44 AM
 
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I truly appreciate your input. Thank you for letting into your life a little bit.
This was such an interesting book for me, especially when I discussed it with other people (here on MDC and also in real life with co-workers, etc).

I was shocked that people were so shocked by the way these children grew up.

Mentally, I can understand in a clinical way how growing up that way is not the norm for most people.

But emotionally I'm always shocked when I see so many examples of people who grew up with loving parents, present parents, parents who disciplined, parents who had self-control.

I'm always a little shocked that most people I know weren't always hungry or cold when they were children, or that they knew pretty much what would happen the next day.

I don't often meet people who grew up the way I did (other than a few people online once in a while). I often wonder where kids who grew up with absent parents, drugs in the household, addiction, poverty, violence, neglect ended up...where are they now?

I run with a mostly college educated (mostly graduate degrees), pretty professional, mostly middle class crowd. Most of these people who are my friends are people I met through work. They all grew up middle class or higher.

So, I can really relate to Ms. Walls. But I wonder where kids who grew up with similar backgrounds as me are now...I don't run into them in my SAHM groups or at work.
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#32 of 44 Old 07-23-2008, 12:24 PM
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I'm always a little shocked that most people I know weren't always hungry or cold when they were children, or that they knew pretty much what would happen the next day.

I don't often meet people who grew up the way I did (other than a few people online once in a while). I often wonder where kids who grew up with absent parents, drugs in the household, addiction, poverty, violence, neglect ended up...where are they now?



There was a family in our neighborhood (when I was growing up) where the kids were severely neglected and abused. Everyone knew it; no one called social services (until most of the kids were teenagers.) I was just a kid, so I didn't know how to help them, of course.

Then on Fathers' Day of this year, there was an article in the paper about one of the kids in that family. (It didn't mention the childhood neglect; it was just honoring this guy as a single father.)
He's raising a son on his own, doing the best he can, but he's functionally illiterate and has a hard time holding down jobs.

It was a heartwarming and heartbreaking story at the same time.

"Our task is not to see the future, but to enable it."
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#33 of 44 Old 07-23-2008, 01:35 PM
 
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There was a family in our neighborhood (when I was growing up) where the kids were severely neglected and abused. Everyone knew it; no one called social services (until most of the kids were teenagers.) I was just a kid, so I didn't know how to help them, of course.

Then on Fathers' Day of this year, there was an article in the paper about one of the kids in that family. (It didn't mention the childhood neglect; it was just honoring this guy as a single father.)
He's raising a son on his own, doing the best he can, but he's functionally illiterate and has a hard time holding down jobs.

It was a heartwarming and heartbreaking story at the same time.
I totally know what you are saying about heartwarming and heartbreaking.

I have a few friends who are teachers who work with troubled, at risk teens, who mostly (not all) come from situations at home that are very unstable. They face such hurdles that as adults they really have to do the best they can to hold down jobs and try to navigate life.

I think the concept of pulling one up by one's own bootstraps is available, but it is very, very difficult, takes a lot of hard work, and a lot of luck as well.

I think the author of the Glass Castle acknowledged that. Not all the children in her family came through the experience unscathed. And she herself worked hard, but also had some lucky breaks along the way.
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#34 of 44 Old 07-23-2008, 01:38 PM
 
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There was a family in our neighborhood (when I was growing up) where the kids were severely neglected and abused. Everyone knew it; no one called social services (until most of the kids were teenagers.) I was just a kid, so I didn't know how to help them, of course.
I think it's pretty common for people to turn a blind eye. Even if someone had called social services, I'm not sure what good that would have done. It might have made things worse.

People called social services all the time on my parents. I suspect neighbors did, teachers probably did, and others as well. We were always being investigated.

The truth is there really isn't a good system in place as a safety net for kids with neglectful parents or incompetent parents. The abuse has to be pretty severe and evident, usually, before much will happen.
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#35 of 44 Old 08-18-2008, 08:11 PM
 
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I was really disturbed by the book.

I appreciated the writing, but the story itself wasn't one that I'd choose to read again.
Yes, that. I also always find it immensely hard to believe that kids who grow up this way turn out alright. That's my big beef with Harry Potter, too. How can a kid who's been raised "all wrong" turn out any kind of okay? It doesn't fit what I know from life experience and it doesn't jive with what I learned in college either. It takes a superhuman effort to rise above the abusive conditions they were raised in. And where was the CPS? Why wasn't the school intervening for these kids? I was pretty upset.
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#36 of 44 Old 08-19-2008, 10:17 AM
 
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Yes, that. I also always find it immensely hard to believe that kids who grow up this way turn out alright. That's my big beef with Harry Potter, too. How can a kid who's been raised "all wrong" turn out any kind of okay? It doesn't fit what I know from life experience and it doesn't jive with what I learned in college either. It takes a superhuman effort to rise above the abusive conditions they were raised in. And where was the CPS? Why wasn't the school intervening for these kids? I was pretty upset.
My personal belief is that some kids who grow up this way turn out ok, but most do not.

I'm speaking from anecdotal experience. I grew up with very similar parents and a very rocky, unstable, and impoverished childhood. I turned out ok. (I guess). What worked for me was that I excelled academically and went to college, and then established a career. I really understood how the Walls kids (especially Jeannette and her sister Lorie) prospered because of their academic excellence. That was me.

However, my siblings didn't do this, and their lives aren't as impoverished as our childhood, but they aren't educated, skilled, and so they haven't really overcome where we started.

The key, I believe is education.

You also asked about CPS. Or the schools. Let me just say that CPS and the schools do check things out, but they overlook a lot. I'm sure more kids fall through the cracks than don't.

And the author of the book did mention how her youngest sister wasn't as stable as the older ones. This type of childhood impacts different personalities very differently.
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#37 of 44 Old 08-19-2008, 10:29 AM
 
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In her family's case and the time frame she grew up (late 60s/70s) there were no mandated reporting laws, and people didn't report anything short of near-murder to the police.

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How can a kid who's been raised "all wrong" turn out any kind of okay? It doesn't fit what I know from life experience and it doesn't jive with what I learned in college either. It takes a superhuman effort to rise above the abusive conditions they were raised in.
Keep in mind that the only people who surivive to write best-selling books about this sort of childhood are resilient and yes--took near-superhuman effort to even achieve enough normalcy to function.

Read Resilient Adults to understand the research behind why some kids make it out of this sort of childhood, and why so many more recede into drugs, alcohol, abuse, illiteracy, etc. Those are the kids who don't write memoirs.
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#38 of 44 Old 08-19-2008, 11:26 AM
 
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In her family's case and the time frame she grew up (late 60s/70s) there were no mandated reporting laws, and people didn't report anything short of near-murder to the police.

Keep in mind that the only people who surivive to write best-selling books about this sort of childhood are resilient and yes--took near-superhuman effort to even achieve enough normalcy to function.
:

I think this is very true.

Also, even with the dysfunction, nomadic life, and alcoholism, the author's parents were loving towards their children for the most part, and also placed high value on education (and were themselves educated). Those are key things any child, no matter what the parents income and stability, needs to succeed.

Without the love and instilled value on education, the author likely would have faced even greater hurdles than the ones she rose above so admirably.
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#39 of 44 Old 09-15-2008, 10:09 PM
 
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I loved this book. It didn't feel disturbing to me. It seemed to me that a lot of the ideals of the parents in this story are very similar to my own and those of my parents. I loved all the reading they did together, and science lessons from Dad. I loved the gift of a star, but more than that the one on one time with a parent. The parents seemed very loving to me.

I think that's what resonates for me. I had very young parents who did some stupid things when we were growing up, but I have never once felt unloved. And that is what carries us through life. When I describe some of the crazy things that happened to me when I was a kid... in my mind they are good warm memories... and then I see the look on other people's faces of shock. It seemed like the author was telling those kinds of stories.

To a point. We never went hungry and my father kept the same job for 30 years before he retired. My mom always had three meals a day ready for us. I wonder if I would feel the same way if I had been hungry all the time. My parents also believed in letting us learn about the world on our own, but I know they would not have made us responsible for cooking on our own at three years old.

But I resonated with the wholesome view of parenting that she describes her parents having. Just letting the kids sleep in their refrigerator boxes because they enjoyed it. Letting them play, spending time with them as individuals, and that optimistic attitude... I love that.
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#40 of 44 Old 09-16-2008, 03:30 PM
 
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I loved all the reading they did together, and science lessons from Dad. I loved the gift of a star, but more than that the one on one time with a parent. The parents seemed very loving to me.
ITA.

:

I'm really amazed that some people thought the parents in the book were unloving.

The parents had their faults, some of the faults major ones. But I felt the family was there for each other and, in general, very loving.

I think that is one of the reasons all the kids seemed to do pretty well. Education was stressed, even when they didn't have a lot of money. I liked the science lessons and the star story, too.
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#41 of 44 Old 09-23-2008, 11:59 AM
 
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i loved the book and so did my DH. my husband grew up with an unstable mother and a fairly unstable early life. his mom bought whiskey for him at age 11 just because he asked! but she was also n artist and bestowed upon him a love for beautiful things. his father was an alcoholic and i think dh and his sibling experienced a great deal of troubles, abuse and neglect in their childhood. but his father has recovered and is now happy and i think healthy and they have a good relationship. so recovery from these family dynamics is possible for some.

my DH has become educated, financially successful, funny and intelligent in so many ways. his sister is also college educated (though in debt still for this) and has her own successful bussiness as an artist. they made it through, perhaps due to their intelligence, social skills and also maybe in part they were able to become successful because they knew the other side of life, the darker side. i knwo lots of folks who had what seems like decent childhoods and then they go on to have serious troubles and life-altering problems as adults. it doesn't seem that there is a formula for making a good, successful, healthy person.
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#42 of 44 Old 09-23-2008, 02:31 PM
 
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my DH has become educated, financially successful, funny and intelligent in so many ways. his sister is also college educated (though in debt still for this) and has her own successful bussiness as an artist. they made it through, perhaps due to their intelligence, social skills and also maybe in part they were able to become successful because they knew the other side of life, the darker side. i knwo lots of folks who had what seems like decent childhoods and then they go on to have serious troubles and life-altering problems as adults. it doesn't seem that there is a formula for making a good, successful, healthy person.
So well put!

No, there doesn't seem to be a formula, other than personal determination with some amount of luck, here and there.

I had a childhood much like your husband's. I made it out, became educated and successful. But most of my siblings, for the most part, did not.
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#43 of 44 Old 09-28-2008, 08:39 PM
 
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I read this book a while back and really enjoyed it. It turned me on to memoirs.

Mom to DS1, DS2, DD1 and DD2! h20homebirth.gif
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#44 of 44 Old 10-02-2008, 05:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm so glad this thread is still alive. I'm still thinking about this book from time to time. I would like to teach my son to swim and just remembered how jeannette's father was throwing her in the water over and over until she swam. That's crazy! Although i did hear people learn to swim like that really fast.
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