These mean spirited, brutal individuals didn’t get that way being raised by loving, supportive and nurturing parents.
Sometimes a child is born with neurologically issues and despite great parenting will becomes an adult with serious mental health issues or a personality disorder. But I am focused on toxic individuals created by apathetic, emotionally distant or incompetent parents.
In a recent article about Ohio kidnapper Ariel Castro, world renowned forensic psychiatrist Dr. Keith Abel said that Castro “was not born a predator – he became one… Ariel Castro is an extreme example of what can happen in adulthood when a child has been destroyed psychologically.”
In the heimishe world, we joyfully embrace the biblical injunction to “go forth and multiply.” Our world revolves around our children. Each birth is a communal celebration, the joy in a child’s existence not just limited to his or her family. We all embrace the new neshama in our midst – a new link that enhances our spiritual bonds and our physical continuity as a people. The zero population growth that is the reality in the secular world is not our reality. The reverse is true. We are replenishing ourselves post-Holocaust at an astonishing rate.
However, we must take care to truly nurture the young souls that Hashem has entrusted into our care. Ignoring a child’s cries while on a cell phone or computer is not the way to do it. Nor is being overly critical and sarcastic or taking the easy way out and catering to his/her demands instead of firmly saying “no” and setting limits.
In order for children to thrive and grow into pleasant, functional adults, they must have a steady “diet” of quality time and attention, positive reinforcement, constructive (as opposed to destructive) criticism that will give them the confidence to try again, as well as validation and unconditional love.
Chronic emotional or physical neglect can result in children/adults with problematic personality disorders – of which there are too many.
In my next column, I will take a look at this tragic reality.