Troubled Childhood—The Norm?

It seems as though most of us did not grow up in an Ozzie-and-Harriett-type household. According to recent data collected by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, six out of 10 American adults had difficult childhoods. You may have endured physical, verbal, or sexual abuse or lived through domestic violence, alcohol or drug abuse, or divorce. A family member may have had a mental illness or may have been incarcerated. These adverse experiences know no racial, gender, religious, or ethnic boundaries. We all—even those few who have not experienced these conflicts ourselves--have neighbors, colleagues, and friends who fall into this category. Throughout America, our communities are rife with family problems of every sort. Although most of us live through our childhood and survive into adulthood, a background of adversity or troubling conditions can still affect us in negative ways. The data show that these experiences increase our chances of developing cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; of becoming substance abusers; of suffering from depression; and of dying prematurely. Do you think it makes us more prone to have anger issues? Or to carry on the “family tradition” by repeating in our adult lives and relationships the violence, addiction, or abuse we may have seen and learned from our first family? The CDC research findings certainly make us aware of the implications that a troubled childhood has over an individual’s entire lifespan. If you happen to be among the 60% who have experienced a troubled childhood, how do you feel it has affected you? What do you think could be done to help alleviate this problem, either for children going through difficult circumstances or for adults living with the repercussions?