The Mother Or The Trauma – Who (Or What) Is Really To Blame?
Here’s why using turbulent childhoods as the sole reason to explain the unexplainable is false and dangerous
I’m on playground duty when a boy (let’s call him Alexander) says a swear word. The six-year-old has also been told off several times for hitting his friends. Perhaps it’s nothing to be concerned about; he’s just having a bad day, or he’s just pushing a few boundaries to see when the new staff member (me) will snap. But I’m patient and calm, and I don’t plan to play the game. I’m observing, because I know there’s something going on with this kid.
I still don’t know what Alexander’s story is. It might not even be anything – perhaps he just likes to be naughty and his parents, who I’ve never met, have tried everything they possibly can to get him to behave. All kids have a rebellious phase. He may think he’s different, but he’s really not.
He acts older than the other children. That’s not a warning sign, being more mature than your peers. But it could be.
And then he talks to me about his favorite slasher movies.
‘Don’t they scare you?’ I said.
Alex shrugs his shoulders. ‘I’m not scared of anything.’
It could be nothing. But I mention it to someone, just in case. I don’t know if Alex is six or seven, but either way, he’s too young to be watching movies such as Halloween and Nightmare On Elm Street. And as I walk home, I can’t help but wonder if 1). Am I worrying over nothing? 2). What’s this boy’s home life like? 3). Am I being judgemental in wondering how he is being parented?
Let’s say it’s the worst-case scenario for Alexander, a boy I haven’t heard of or seen in a while now, and he became what you and I call “a product of his upbringing” — he starts with petty theft after a turbulent childhood full of neglect, aggression and being exposed to things that he is far too young to see. Whether he is six or thirty-six you will ask the same question as the media, the judge, and the psychologists – what was his childhood like? Are there any adverse experiences there? And specifically, you’ll want to know this: what was his relationship like with his mother?