The Odd Child Out In The Family
The Scapegoated Child in the Family
Scapegoating in families is a phenomena which is kept secretive. The idea of the American family are parents and children who lovingly interact and cooperate with each other. Well, this is a myth. Each family has its own problems and family dynamics of behavior.
Each family has its own culture and ethics to live by. Some families are indeed loving and accepting while others are distant, aloof, and judgemental. Furthermore, the majority of families has its shares of dysfunctionalism whether it is a parent or children in the family. Only a minute percentage of families have no dysfunction to speak of.
However, in some families there is what you can describe as extreme dysfunction. There are families who are actually unsupportive and technically hostile towards each other. Families often have their own unwritten agenda as how to treat each other.
Children in families, especially in multichild families, are subjected to unequal, preferential, and differential treatment. This treatment is often dependent upon the specific child's gender, intellectual, innate personality, and birth order status. Parents also treat their children differentially based upon the parents' own preference, innate personality, birth order of origin, and/or other related variables too numerous to mention.
However, in some families, parents single out one child or some of their children to be scapegoated. Scapegoated children are those who are treated horrifically and ostracized by their families. They are often blamed and targeted by their families.
The scapegoated child is the nonentity of the family. He/she is often held to a different standard from the rest of the family members. Scapegoated children can be from any family size. However, studies show that the larger the family, the more often that a single child or a group of children are singled out by the parents to be scapegoated.
Instances of children being scapegoated in such families were 7 year old Nixmary Brown, who was singled out for parental abuse and neglect while the other 5 siblings were relatively well-treated and not abused. In 1995, 6 year old Elisa Izquierdo was starved and beaten by her mother while her 5 siblings were left unscathed. In 1996, Nadine Lockwood was starved to death while her 8 siblings were treated fairly well.
Scapegoated children are often treated the worst in the family. They are disciplined more harshly for offenses that their siblings get away with. They usually come from families in which there is other kinds of stress whether it is socioeconomic, psychological, mental and/or other types of stress. Parents especially in large and very large families view their children as obligations and mouths to feed. As expected, life in large to very large families is often tenuous and onerous to say the least. Emotional and economic resources are stretched to the limit. In addition to these factors, there are a large number of children to care for. No parent can effectively devote and care individually for each child in such a large brood. Nerves are usually on edge in such families.
Parental energy in large to very large families are often stretched to the limit and there is a likelihood that a child or group of children will be scapegoated because of the former's frustrations. Of course, scapegoating of children can occur in small to medium sized families also. However, in larger families, there is a greater likelihood that a child will be singled out by the parents for scapegoating because of the overwhelming responsibility of raising a large number of children. Sometimes, it is too much for parents to endure.
Children are singled out for ill treatment by parents for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes they have characteristics which is radically different from that of the parents. In many instances, they may have similar characteristics of the parents which the latter subconsciously dislike. They can remind their parents of a disliked relative such as a brother, cousin, aunt, and/or grandparent. Still many parents actually hate their children and take out this hatred on the children, especially if they were unwanted accidents. There are some parents who view their children as "mouths to feed" and see them as burdens to get out of the house as soon as possible.
There are some parents who make the home environment of scapegoated children such a hellish experience that many of these children are left with no other choice but to leave home as soon as possible either by circumstance or force. They are often the throwaway children. Since many of these children have little education and no marketable skills, many of them end up homeless and on the streets, being prey to the worst criminal elements. There are some scapegoated children who have no choice but to go into a life of crime just to survive e.g. whether it is by joining gangs and being involved in other deleterious activities.
There are long lasting effects of being scapegoated by parents. Many such children believe that they are worthless and not deserving of anything in life. They thus become failures in life who are at the bottom of the societal pecking order. Still others are so traumatized by extremely abusively cruel treatment of their parents that they commit suicide as they feel that their lives are worthless. Many of them adopt the victim mentality-they become passive receptors in life who believe that events and things are beyond their control and there is nothing they can do to remedy the situation.
Then there are others who become strong and defy the odds. They state that they are not victims and are worthy of respect. They usually cut off all contact with their toxic biological family and usually have non-blood family members who love, support, and respect them for the unique persons that they are. They often become strong advocates of the underdog.
In summation, all families, regardless of socioeconomic background, education, and/or familial background have some issues surrounding it that need to be addressed. The majority of families contain a degree of dysfunction in one way or another. It is a rare family indeed that has no dysfunction of any kind.
Furthermore, each family has an unwritten dynamic regarding the children of the family. Children in multichild families are often subjected to differential treatment based upon variables such as their innate characteristics, personality type, and birth order. However, there are some children who are singled out by their families for differential treatment of the worst kind-scapegoating.
The reasons why some children are scapegoated in families are myriad. Maybe they have familial characteristics which are radically different from the family culture. While others have characteristics which remind parents of a disliked relative whether it is a sibling, aunt, and/or cousin. Still others may be unwanted children in their families. Also, there are parents who actually hate their children for whatever reason.
Many scapegoated children are impelled to leave home either by circumstance or by force. Such children because they leave home at very early ages are not educationally equipped so they go into a life of crime just to survive. They are throwaways-their parents do not want them in the house so they are told to leave! While many scapegoated children become nonentities and victims as a result of this horrendous treatment, there are still others who become stronger and become confident in their humanity!
© 2011 Grace Marguerite Williams
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