Forgot to Feed the Baby!”
A. Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP
In my role as a clinical psychologist, I
have spent almost four decades working with abused and traumatized
children and their families. In one electrifying moment in a therapy
session with a young boy in a residential treatment center who had been
exposed to extreme domestic violence and deprivation, he was preparing a
pretend Thanksgiving feast and when he brought the food to the table, he
"froze" his eyes on a baby doll in a high chair in the corner and he
exclaimed, "Oh, my God! We forgot to feed the baby!" Metaphorically, he
was telling me the story of his life experience. His family was
overwhelmed with their own problems, poverty, alcohol and drug addition,
violence, so no one had time or energy to "feed the baby." He had just
returned from what he had anticipated would be a "Thanksgiving feast"
with his family. Instead, he had spent the holiday weekend in a shelter
for abused women and their children, because the mother's boyfriend had
severely assaulted her the night before his visit home.
shocking and appalling headlines of another child beaten to death send
chills through our spines. Her step-father, the newspaper reports, has
been charged with her death. Still another unconscious child is found
living with siblings in a room cold as a result of a broken window.
There was no food in the refrigerator. By the time the 4 year-old child
reaches the hospital, he is declared dead. Who do we direct our outrage
towards? Do we make scapegoats out of the Child Welfare department and
their overloaded caseworkers or do we look inward at our own and outward
at society's priorities? Have we as a society forgotten to "feed the
baby?" As the most developed society in the world how can we allow
children and families to live in unsafe, crowded, cold apartments with
no food in the refrigerator? Children are voiceless. They have no vote.
They have no lobby. But their voices can be heard if we listen
carefully. Far too many are asking in a barely audible voice, "Have we
forgotten to feed the baby?"
Copyright © 2006 by David A.
Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP. All rights reserved.