You’re probably wondering why we chose to touch on the subject of parenting and how it can affect the child indefinitely. The reason for that is because everybody experiences some form of parenting at one point in their lives; whether it be neglectful, loving, or just with their absence, parenting is a universal concept. Every person is a product of their upbringing as it molds them into the person they are currently. We decided that analyzing Jimmy’s neglectful parents is a great way to rationalize his behaviors throughout the novel. In addition, we found a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control that one in four children suffer from parental abuse causing “at least one psychiatric disorder [by] age 21” , and ultimately having a “negative effect on the ability of both men and women to establish and maintain healthy intimate relations in adulthood” (CDC). After coming across this study, we wanted to test the validity of their conclusions by applying them to Jimmy’s life in Oryx and Crake. We chose a website as our digital resource because, much like the topic, it is a universal medium. A website can be easily accessible on various devices that many people own, such as laptops, mobile devices, or desktops. Moreover, we used the design of the website to correlate with our vision of a timeline that displays Jimmy’s life in chronological order which functions as a support mechanism for our research question by including several social interactions that Jimmy is involved in with his parents throughout his childhood and how they later affected him throughout his life. In this case, it was clear that Jimmy’s experience with the neglectful style of parenting tremendously affected his life starting from his childhood, through his young adulthood, and continuing into his adulthood. We hope that our resource will act as a guide to show how Jimmy’s upbringing affected his adult life and how this same situation could happen to children everywhere. One thing that really stood out to us is the fact that the effects of Jimmy’s childhood can be seen all throughout the novel. For instance, earlier on in the novel, Jimmy creates a little comedic sketch about his father and mother’s daily lives. In this sketch, he mocks his parents by giving them unique personalities, such as when Jimmy defines the characters by stating that
“Evil Dad blustered and theorized and dished out pompous bullshit, [and] Righteous Mom complained and accused” (Atwood 60).
This quote provides insight on Jimmy’s thoughts of his household as he is dealing with neglection due to a forgetful father and a depressed mother. This is drawn by his use of negative terms such as “evil”, “blustered”, and “complained”. It is also apparent that he is substituting this emptiness, or otherwise known professionally as being diagnosed with an “attention-deficit disorder” as stated in the ProQuest article, by layering their absence with a mask to appeal to others in hope to gain fulfillment in that area (Mustillio). Another instance of this occurring later in the novel is when Jimmy is a young adult. When talking about his mother, Jimmy explains that
“[a]s he grew older and more devious, he found that on the days when he couldn’t grab some approval, he could at least get a reaction. Anything was better than the flat voice, the blank eyes, the tired staring out of the window" (Atwood 32).
Jimmy’s actions show how his mother’s behavior impacts the decisions he makes as he is accustomed to his mother’s neglectful tendencies when he describes specific features that she exhibits when he’s around her. Therefore, his desire of any reaction from her, either positive or negative, shows that he wanted nothing else but approval from his mother.
Our research question is further supported with scientific evidence. Brigid Schulte from The Washington Post explains a study done by the National Academy of Science on how “[t]he effects of child abuse and neglect… can profoundly influence victims’ physical and mental health, their ability to control emotions and impulses, their achievement in school, and the relationships they form as children and as adults” (Schulte). This is directly related to Jimmy’s life as we can see how his parents’ behavior altered his relationships from childhood through adulthood.
Another resource that provides a plethora of evidence supporting our research question describes the impact of parenting styles on child development. Mary Venus Joseph and Jilly John state that “[p]arenting style is one of the most important factors in child development”(Joseph). They also provided a table that explains the four different parenting types- authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and uninvolved. They described uninvolved parents as “uninvolved figures that are neither responsive nor demanding. They often fail to monitor or supervise the child’s behavior” (Joseph). This parenting style correlates directly with the style Jimmy’s parents adopted. Later in the research article, it is stated that “the worst developmental outcomes were associated with a neglectful, uninvolved style of parenting.” Uninvolved parenting is the parenting style that has the most negative effects on children. Therefore, we knew that Jimmy would be a great case study on the subject of uninvolved/neglectful parenting and its long-lasting effects.
Atwood, Margaret. Oryx and Crake. Melbourne: National Information Library Service,
Materials. Production Group, 2004. Print.
Mustillo, Sarah A., Shannon Dorsey, Barbara J. Burns, and Kate Conover. “Parental Depression and Child Outcomes: The mediating Effects of Abuse and Neglect. “ProQuest. Journal of Marriage and Family, Feb. 2013. Web. 4 Apr. 2017.
Joseph M. V., John J. (2008). Impact of parenting styles on child development. Global Academic Society Journal: Social Science Insight, Vol. 1, No. 5, pp. 16-25. ISSN 2029-0365.
Schulte, Brigid. “Child Abuse Changes Brain Structure, Can Last a Lifetime.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 12 Sept. 2013. Web. 03 Apr. 2017.
"Violence Prevention." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control And Prevention, 05 Apr. 2016. Web. 08 Apr. 2017.