His parents, who were carted off to debtors' prison during the Industrial Age, mandated this pre-teen work there. The back-breaking tasks and humiliating setting seeped into his subconscious. Those, and this is the happy part of the story, likely provided the material for the upbeat fantasy of fiction such as "A Christmas Carol." Ebenezer Scrooge could have mirrored one of his bosses.
Dickens has plenty of company, according to a new study in the journal Health Affairs. As Melissa Dahl reports in New York Magazine:
"Nearly half of all kids in the U.S. experience at least one event in their childhoods that researchers would consider traumatic."
The consequences range from physical ailments like asthma to poor academic performance. However, these negative effects could be overcome by those who learned what goes into that mysterious process called "resilience." As yet researchers haven't nailed down how children get their arms around resilience.
There may also be another silver lining. Those who had to develop bouncing-back skills early in the game might be better equipped to navigate the increasingly harsh world of middle age and the infancy of old age. Because of a global economy disrupted by technology and paradigm shifts in social values, many who had stable childhoods find themselves unmoored.
They seem less able than I have been to master the art of the professional, emotional and spiritual comeback. Some of my classmates from seemingly normal families whom I attended college with (Seton Hill, Greensburg, Pennsylvania) come across on their Facebook postings as stuck. For example, they seem devoid of joy. That was one reason I pulled the plug on Facebook.
Reflection: Should parents trigger minor traumas for their offspring to lay the platform for buidling resilience?