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Family Crisis

Mar 15, 1994 02:42 PM
by Gerald Schueler

Andrew.  I want to thank you for the very interesting report that you
gave on 7 March concerning families.  We in the US also have problems -
in fact this seems to be a worldwide problem.  Reports of domestic
abuse are way up today.  Does this mean that domestic abuse/violence is
on the rise? Or that it is being reported better today? Certainly more
people today are coming forward and acknowledging it than ever before.

One interesting problem that we have in the US is that while the cost
of living has escalated to the point where both husband and wife must
work to support a house, more and more single-parent families are
cropping up.  Only a few weeks ago, I heard a TV commentator say that
60% of all families in the US are now single-parent.  Thus a majority
of our children are being raised by one parent who probably cannot
afford a nice home environment for them.

Modern psychology has shown that the first 2 years of a child s life
are the most important.  Most, if not all, serious mental problems
(i.e., long-term psychological diseases, not those caused by genetic
imbalances or accident) result from how a child is raised during their
first 2 years.  If they don t get love or proper care from a
care-giver, for example, then they will inevitably grow up not trusting
others and will have little self-esteem.  As you pointed out, such
children will sooner or later become a drain on society.  My wife and I
have seen a lot of this in our work as theraputic foster parents.  Even
by the age of 7 years, it is too late to do much.  We have noticed that
it is very difficult (but possible with patience) to help even 5 year
olds.  By the time a child is 12, they will have drifted through the
foster care system so many times that help is virtually impossible and
all one can do is babysit.  We see a lot of potential criminals also,
because these children have no respect for themselves let alone for
others.  Most, if not all, of this could have been prevented by
offering love and care during the child s first 2 years.  While we can
always chalk it up to their karma, I can t help by being saddened at
the lack of a loving environment that many of our youngsters today must

There is an interesting psychological problem today known as a
borderline personality disorder.  A university professor once told me
that once a borderline, always a borderline because to date, none have
ever been cured.  These are people who have no sense of personal space
or boundaries.  They live vicariously through others.  They are always
trying to control others, in the guise of offering help.  They have low
self-esteem, but put on a show of knowing everything.  I have
personally known several people like this, one of whom was diagnosed as
borderline by a psychiatrist.  They will try to run your life for you
and they are a real problem to deal with.  Psychology tells us that
this mental condition develops around the age of 2 years.  It results
from a parent or primary care-giver never being consistent.  The parent
loves the child one minute, and then rejects the child the next.  This
uncertainty from the parent to the child is devastating to the child.
This condition is also passed on from mother to child (most, but not
all, borderlines are women).  A borderline mother will treat her child
the same way that she was treated.  While psychology knows about this
condition, it has yet to figure out a way to correct it or to break the
cycle.  I am offering this simply as an example of the importance of
the first 2 years of a child s life.  As theosophists, we don't need to
lecture or teach theories to our children so much as to provide a
consistently loving environment in which they can grow.

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