|Type of paper:||Argumentative essay|
Parenting is a duty and responsibility which needs serious attention. Every parent should consider it a moral obligation to bring up their children in the best way possible. Children need love and support at their tender age to ensure that they explore all of their fundamental potentials. Parental detachment may, in one way or another affect the healthy growth and development of children. The theme of parental detachment is highlighted in "I stand here ironing "by Tillie Olsen. The mother who is so much filled with guilt of not being able to stay close to her daughter at her tender age takes the central place of the novel. The story begins with a mother lost in thoughts as she drags the iron box back and forth, in attempt to contemplate on what the unmentioned person has requested of her. The mother in her thoughts feels that she may not be in the position to help her daughter as the unnamed person may have mentioned. There are positive impacts of parental detachment. Basing my arguments on Tillie Olsen's "I stand here ironing," the paper set to argue that parental detachment negatively affects the children.
Tillie Olsen starts his story depicting a mother who does not seem to be pleased with the decision she once made regarding her daughter's life. Her choices of staying away from her daughter Emily seems not to have been beneficial. The woman in question appears to be regretting the fact that her first daughter never got a chance to be given the parental love as the rest of her children. The daughter was born a beautiful baby but has not grown into the beautiful girl she was meant to be. "When she finally came, I hardly knew her, walking quick and nervous like her father, thin and dressed a shoddy red that yellowed her skin and geared at the pork marks. All the baby loveliness gone" (Olsen 1). The woman describes the adverse changes which occurred in her daughter's physical appearance. The mother attributes the change in Emily's physical appearance to the fact that she stayed away from her and did not give her the attention she deserved. The protagonist was denied the parental care necessary for proper development.
Emily experienced parental detachment at the age of eight months when her father moved out, leaving the mother to cater for all their needs single headedly. The fact that she lacked paternal love and care at that early age may have affected Emily in some way. "We find that children who grow up apart from their biological fathers do less well, on average than children who grow up with both natural parents" (McLanahan 2). Emily is notably different from her siblings not only in their physical appearances but also in attitude. "She does not smile easily, let alone almost always as her brothers and sisters do. Her face is closed and sombre" (Olsen 2). Emily's solitude may be attributed to the fact that Emily got used to a state of neglect and parental detachment at an early age and therefore does not know how to express her joy.
Olsen by the use of visual imagery brings out the severity of the bad feeling of separation of a daughter from a mother. The emotional pain fills Emily's whole body with sorrow as she stays away from home. The convalescent home to which Emily is sent seems like a place of separation where children are isolated from being contaminated by the parental love. "The parents stand below shrieking up to be heard and the shriek below to be heard, and between them, the invisible wall" (Olsen 3).the girl's life seems to have been so much shaped and affected by loneliness and solitude away from loved ones. Being blocked from receiving parental affection may have been the causal factor to that which the mother regrets.
Moreover, Emily can't seem to have a good relationship with her sister Susan. Emily's resentment towards her sister may have resulted from the fact that Susan is different, both in physic and attitude. Their relationship is based on violence as Emily does not recognise the meaning of family love and peace. "she tormented herself enough about her not looking like the rest, there was enough of unsafeness, having to be conscious about words before you speak, the constant caring of what they think of me..." (Olsen 4).The girl having been detached from her parents, Emily's self-confidence seems to have been impaired. The fact that she is different makes her insecure and envious of others, including her sister Susan.
The mother in the story seems to acknowledge the fact that her enlightenment comes way too late when her decisions and actions have had a drastic impact on Emily. Emily has so much in herself not known what to do with tithe mother wonders how what is kept inside Emily could be made to bloom to make the girl not to feel as restless as a dress laid before the iron box. Being separated from parents at a tender age leads to depression in children as they tend t0o keep much of what they would have released (Wilsie et al. 3). The symptoms described by Emily's mother suggests that the girl has lived a significant portion of her life in depression. "She kept too much in herself; her life was such she had to keep too much to herself. My wisdom came too late"(Olsen 6).if the insinuated wisdom would have come earlier, then maybe the woman would not have stayed away from her daughter and so Emily's case of depression would have been reversed.
It seems that Emily became detached from her daughter even emotionally. Whenever Emily was with her, she never tried to bond with her, and that is one of the regrets she thinks of as she stands ironing. Tillie Olsen seems to have explored the different forms of detachment. He did not only write on the physical isolation, but the other aspects of separation also seem to make the storyline in "I stand here ironing." Even the outsiders could realise that the woman never treated her eldest daughter in the same way that she treated the rest of her children. "The old man living in the back had once said in his gentle way; you should smile more at Emily when you look at her"(Olsen 2).the result of being treated differently made Emily a sad child who rarely smiled and the mother now regrets ever treated her differently. If she would have looked at her with the same joy and love as she did to the other children then maybe her eldest daughter wouldn't need help anymore.
However, detachment from parents can also yield some form of independence in children. Having been left at a tender age to defend themselves against the world, children get to learn to do things on their own (Ryan et al. 23). Emily's comic ability may be attributed to the fact that she has been alone almost the whole of her life. She has therefore mastered the courage of creating fun and laughter out of a situation. She began to be asked to perform at other high schools, even colleges than at city and state-wide affairs. The first one we went, I only recognised her the first moment when thin, Shy, she almost drowned herself into the curtains. Then the control, the command, the convulsing and deadly clowning then the roaring stamping audience..."(Olsen 5). Parental detachment, in this case, seems to have had a positive impact on Emily.
Even though Emily's talent in comedy and her command for comic words can be attributed to parental isolation or instead detachment, it is, however, true those talents are the natural God's gifts which can be given to any child regardless of whether they received parental love and care at their earlier ages or not. "You ought to do something about her with a gift like that. But without money or know -how, what does one do? We have left it all to her, and the gift has often eddied inside, clogged and clotted inside has been"(Olsen 5). Emily's mother mentions that Emily's talent has long existed just that she had never let it out or used it before. Moreover, being detached from her parents seems to have contributed to the holding back of the girl's talent for longer. The unnamed person, on the other hand, would not have called for the mother's help if Emily was standing on the right ground with her comic talent.
In conclusion, it is right to note that the negative impacts of parental detachment on children outweigh the positive effects. Tillie Olsen in his "I stand here ironing" explores the theme of parental detachment, clearly depicting the harmful effects which come with separation between parents and children. Olsen does not only highlight the physical detachment from parents but is also keen on other forms of parental detachment such as the emotional neglect by parents. Even though the other side of the argument may pinpoint the fact that Emily's detachment from her parents made her bold enough to explore her comic talent, it is, however, clear that talent is an inborn gift which can be awarded to any child regardless of the roles of their parents in their lives. Tillie Olsen therefore clearly stipulates that parental detachment from a child most so at their earlier ages negatively affects them in the different ways. Every responsible parent should consequently ensure that children receive maximum attention at an earlier age to avoid adverse effects such as low self- esteem and withdrawal. Depression is another impact associated with the different aspects of parental detachment. The protagonist would have developed to be a healthy child if her parents would have earlier made the various decisions. The mother feels that it is too late to change and to make whatever is held inside her daughter to glow. Tillie Olsen represents regret as the result of not playing the parental role correctly.
McLanahan, Sara S. "Father Absence and the welfare of children." Coping with divorce, single parenting, and remarriage: A risk and resiliency perspective (1999): 117-145.
Olsen, Tillie. I stand here ironing. ProQuest LLC, 2002.
Ryan, Richard M., and John H. Lynch. "Emotional autonomy versus detachment: Revisiting the vicissitudes of adolescence and young adulthood." Child development (1989): 340-356.
Wilsie, Carisa, et al. "Parent-Child Interaction Therapy in Child Welfare." Parenting and Family Processes in Child Maltreatment and Intervention. Springer, Cham, 2017. 107-125.
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