I just watched a T.V. programme about an eight-year-old anorexic girl. Her anxious eyes, soft smile and understandable inability to answer ‘adult questions’ like ‘why do you think you are like this?’ etc. were heartbreaking.

Why did/does this happen? I don’t know. Her parents seemed relatively normal, if a little detached in a middle class way.

One of the sadder scenes showed the child gathering her things before leaving a treatment centre, following a good recovery. Her mother held back tears of concern and fear of relapse. The father was there in body alone.

The doctors in this particular show argued that the media’s onslaught of diets and lo-fat everything were creating these damaged children. How horrifying a thought that a beautiful child would have such feelings of self-hatred and inadequacy, as a result of profit-driven campaigns.

This got me thinking about kids, feelings, and the general ups and downs of life, mine especially.

I chatted to my wife about it. What do kids need? Love? Boundaries? Discipline? Support? Freedom? All of the above? Fully aware that there would be no fixed answers I was brought back to my child psychology course in college.

There, my lecturer said that a huge part of it comes down to unconditional love – not a structureless free-for-all (which I feel is resulting in an epidemic of terrified, manic kids, devoid of anything to cling to), but a secure, unquestioned and guiding love that sets children on a solid road. I don’t know – it’s all theoretical to me until I become the Daddy.

Discussing emotional and moral development inevitably brought up the subject of religion, and my complicated relationship with the Catholic church (of which I am an export).  I became restless as I recalled ‘First Confession’.

Picture approximately twenty 7-8 year olds queuing up to ask a man for forgiveness for all the bad things they’ve done. This to me now seems controlling, fear-inducing, and cold, and a world away from the true meaning of spirituality and universal love.

A ramble I know, but they’re connected in my brain – society, soul, love, health and happiness.

I did warn that this blog would be spontaneous and unplanned. I’ve resisted re-reading this post a million times.

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