Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Jeannette Walls - The Glass Castle

I read this book a little while ago, so my recollections are fairly vague.
I found it to be well written, interesting and very moving, but I did not enjoy reading it whatsoever. I spent the majority of the time it took to finish the book in horror at the parents and system that allow children to suffer this way.
I would like to imagine that things have improved since the authour's childhood, but I'm guessing that it's not the case. While it is common knowledge (and generally accepted as unfortunate but inevitable) that children in other countries often suffer from lack of food, care and appropriate stability, it is not often realized that children in America are not always free from such troubles. Aside from the issues such as effective education or the childhood obesity debate, there are many families whose children are legitimately suffering from a lack of food, safety and psychological stability needed to allow them to properly develop without trying to raise themselves as they attempt to manage their parents.

It's been argued that the author's parents were full of life and enjoyment which gave her some happiness, but in my mind there is no excuse for that kind of abuse. I don't care if they taught her how to enjoy the world and gave her a unique perspective on life; the fact remains that what they did surely stunted her sense of security (not to mention her health, beyond her burns as a child) and her sense of how the world works.
Essentially, they were acting like selfish children themselves, and they deprived their children of the upbringing everyone deserves. I believe that people have a strong responsibility toward their children, and if they cant provide a home equipped with more than adventure and occasional exhibitions of love, they should be forced to relinquish their upbringing until they can provide adequate surroundings. I am certain that it would have caused Jeannette considerable pain to have been removed from her parents' care, but the fact remains that she endured things that no person- never mind a child- should have to endure. For this reason, I can not think of this book as anything other than a profound argument for supporting Child and Family Services. I pray that if I am ever in a situation where I can help someone suffering like this that I will take it, and furthermore - God forbid- if I myself ever discover that I have to choose between my own selfish enjoyment and giving up someone I love for their own benefit, I pray that I would have the strength to do what is best for them and not just what is most interesting for me.
I feel that their failure to appropriately love their children (by caring for them properly, such as by selling the land [in Texas, I believe] for the sake of their current and future happiness is unforgivable, and for that reason I am unable to see her parents as anything other than cautionary tales about childrearing and how it should NOT be done. I find myself profoundly angry at these parents- even more so than the FLDS parents I posted about in Stolen Innocence- because unlike the members of a cult who are motivated by religious necessity, they should know better. Anyone should know better.

No comments:

Post a Comment