Featured image of post Why America won't be able to protect their children without better public services
Featured image of post Why America won't be able to protect their children without better public services

Why America won't be able to protect their children without better public services

Photo by Tadeusz Lakota on Unsplash

Public services are the way out of a traumatic childhood

Last year I decided to break the circle of my family trauma. I used to live by the assumption that there was no way out of my suffering but now I know I was already walking the necessary steps. Steps that were there thanks to the public services.

I was born in Spain (Europe), and I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I managed to survive. My grandparents were very poor, and from the way my parents behaved, you could tell that our family trauma is undoubtedly related to it. They would blame every problem on having no money, and then they would spend long evenings from bar to bar trying to find happiness. “We are poor, but we are a happy family, unlike our neighbours.” That’s the story they passed along to convince me to endure their unfairness. When I asked about anyone who had a different lifestyle, they were always crazy and evil people. When I showed a different opinion, someone was indeed putting strange ideas in my head. For a while, they were winning over my sense of self. I was giving in to our particular family cult.

My mother died when I was sixteen, and even though at the time I suffered because of it, I now understand that it also changed things for me in a good way. In Spain, when a parent dies the government gives financial help to the dependent children and to the dependent spouse. My mother was the main supporter so my father got about five hundred euros per month and I was meant to get about two hundred (as long as I didn’t get a salary above minimum wage). Since I was still underage this money went to him too until I was eighteen. Even though he would spend it on alcohol and I would have to justify every cent I would ask for food, when I came of age I started getting those 200 euros.

It doesn’t happen in all European countries, but in Spain, when your family has a low enough income you are immediately suitable for a public scholarship, money that you will never have to give back. Not only do the most clever students get them. The grants are designed so that anybody can access education without being wealthy or excellent. And as long as you don’t drop out and pass the exams to a minimum level, you will keep having them till the end of the degree.

At that point, I couldn’t take any more fights with my family, so with a summer job, an orphan’s pension and a scholarship under my arm, I decided to go and live by myself. I didn’t know exactly what I was running from when I did this. I thought if I showed them my independence, they would respect me and treat me better. I wasn’t aware of the emotional abuse I was receiving because I wasn’t aware of my emotions at all. So I stayed in contact with them, still being their scapegoat. Nevertheless, it was a step forward in a long way to recovery. I started seeing other lifestyles and when I dared to ignore them for a whole day, I glimpsed what safety might look like. I think being able to identify safety is a key point to begin healing from trauma. And I know for a fact, that none of it would have been possible without the public services.

After reading many of your stories, I realised the American “you only get it if you have fought for it” mentality doesn’t take children into consideration. When you punish parents for being lazy and refuse to share with them in the form of public services, you are punishing their children the most. When you ask a teenager in pain to endure not only the abuse of their parents but the abuse of our society too, you are encouraging them to stick with their family traumas. You only have to compare American and European crime rates, drug death statistics or the percentage of people living in poverty.

I am not saying we have to give money to everyone, but there are ways to make sure some help gets to the children who can still be saved. Supporting young people between 18 and 26 years old to get an education it’s the best way to break the transgenerational trauma cycle. They are already independent of their parents so they cannot exploit them and at the same time, their brain is still maturing. It is the perfect moment to give them a real opportunity. Giving them a “life mortgage” in the form of a student loan and stressing them out in an underpaid job it’s only going to establish what they already know: No one gives a fuck about them.

Americans, if you love your children, you should love your public services.

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