Parent Neglect Essay

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The Walls children learned from a very young age to depend on each other for their most basic needs because both their parents were self-absorbed and distracted by their own interest. Jeanette’s father, Rex, was a chronic alcoholic and her mother, Rose-Mary, was over-focused on herself; painting, reading, and writing. Both parent although they severely neglected their children, really loved them, and the children were happy despite their day to day struggles with poverty, neglect, and troubling times. The Walls’ children adapted to their environment and circumstances of having dysfunctional adults as parents by reversing places with them. The children joined together to help their parents to function outside the home. This reversal of roles is evident when the children forced their mother to take on a teaching position. When the principal threatened to fire her, because she was consistently unreliable, the children took charge of making sure their mother could manage to stay employed. Jeanette thought back “Miss Beatty threatened to fire mom, so Lori, Brian and I, started helping mom with school work.” (Walls 74) The children took on the role to wake, feed, clothe and organize a ride to and from school for their mother and also went as far as, cleaning her classroom, marking her assignments and creating lesson plans. Ironically, by being incompetent, Rose-Mary provided her children with the hands-on experience of what was needed to be an employable adult. Rex and Rose Mary’s persistent laissez faire attitude towards the children’s basic needs for safety and age appropriate expectations is evident in stories of Jeanette’s early childhood. At age three, Jeanette is severely burnt while cooking hotdogs and when asked by the nurse why she was cooking hotdogs by herself, Jeanette states that “Mom says I’m mature and lets me cook for myself a lot.” (Walls 18)

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