Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences History

Opinion: Parenting as violence erupts around the corner

Austin American Statesman

Originally Posted: August 12, 2019

I am raising my child in a terrifying time from which I can’t protect her, nor have I done anything, with all my education and privilege, to fix the problems that inspire such rage and fear in me.

My friend Rebekkah, a child therapist and descendant of survivors of pogroms, agrees. “I feel sickened,” she writes.

Here we were, a child therapist and a professor, both mothers of small children, trying to digest the disturbing news of climate change, detention centers and mass shootings. The event we fixed on was not the incomprehensible gun violence in El Paso, but one connected by the drama of immigration, which transpired over a year ago at one of the Texas border detention centers: the death of Mariee Juárez, who was 18 months old, barely able to walk. In detention she slept on a concrete floor, was often refused care by doctors and ultimately lost 8% of her body weight. Finally, after her family was released to be with relatives on the East Coast she succumbed to a hemorrhage that led to irreversible brain and organ damage in May 2018.

My own child is young enough that I remember her cries through the night. The question of whether I raced to comfort her quickly enough can leave me sleepless for hours, as surely it left Yazmin, Mariee’s mother, as well. Yet the detention of small children ripped from their parents has not stopped. Again, I think: I am raising my child in a time of monsters.

Rebekkah stewards a podcast that translates the findings of modern neuroscience. Her episodes ask: does science tell us how to raise children who aren’t paranoid or riddled with self-doubt?

The children in Dilley have been exposed to conditions that science tells us may portend an inhuman disregard for the life of others: not because of their parents, but because of the actions of the U.S. state acting in concert with a conservative immigration policy. READ MORE