Café Wrap: Upbringing

How does a person’s upbringing from age one thru ten affect the rest of a person’s life?

We covered this topic at our most recent meetup of the Socrates Café on Zoom.

Initially, comments about the effects of our upbringing took the negative track. That is, “What if childhood is less than optimum?” Suppose a child is abandoned or abused in his or her early years. How does this shape their future? Does the child overcome their circumstance? Does he or she become an abuser? Can they break the cycle?

What if a child has few educational, economic, or familial support advantages? How do these affect the person’s adulthood? Can they be overcome?

Does fear play a role? If I am afraid that I will live in poverty, what are the chances that my fear of remaining poor will drive me to succeed? If I fear taking risks, will I fail to risk what I need to in order to become successful? Are there people (who despite a less than perfect upbringing) rise above it? In fact, one patron suggested that fear can be good, citing the book Feel the Fear—And Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D. which considers this idea.

One participant brought up the fact that even infants learn that they have agency when they cry to get attention. They fuss and someone arrives to give them assistance. And those who grew up having a self-reported happy childhood noted that their parents, who read to them consistently, fostered a love of reading and an appreciation for education. There seemed to be a general feeling that upbringing does affect the rest of a person’s life, but the extent to which it does remains unpredictable and can be affected by a wide variety of factors.

Every first and third Wednesday of the month, the Socrates Café at Allentown Public Library meets on Zoom to consider a patron-submitted question of the day. These questions are as varied as there are participants. Many times the question of focus prompts more questions. But it is a way to dissect what we think, why we think it, and how we value philosophical imperatives. You can register to join us here.

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