Wed 3 May, 2006 06:54 am
Very important article on Selah Homes, because this aspect of TFI's organizational culture has never been documented in any of the published studies about the group.
My understanding is that Selah Homes usually don't have as many kids as the PR homes--is that correct? Yet the kids who do live in the Selah Homes grow up under house arrest, basically kept within the compound having little or no contact with other kids.
Yes. However, this article needs a lot more information. Anything describing the specifics of their MO would be good.
My understanding is that Selah Homes usually don't have as many kids as the PR homes--is that correct?
This was true when I was in WS. The children rarely went out and, when they did, it was to places "normal" children go (ie, amusement parks, etc). The idea was that a bunch of children screaming in English in a foreign country attracts attention.
The last WS Unit I was in had around 60 or 70 people and only five (I believe) of those were under 14. The children were usually off in one corner of the compound and we only saw them during lunch and dinner. They had one full time nanny (a teenaged girl).
I asked a friend of mine who was in a Selah Home to take a look at your article and determine whether he could make a contribution. You'll hear from him if there's some additional information available.
One reason I'm interested in the Selah Home and children is because this is how Rick grew up. He talked a lot about his social isolation from other children and how deeply it hurt him. (A group of 6 children in a compound of 60 or 70 adults is serious social isolation.)
Research on resiliency in people raised in abusive, stressful environments suggests that kids who experience high levels of social isolation from their peers are less likely to thrive and survive in adulthood. In other words, there is a reasonable hypothesis that children raised in Selah Homes who leave TFI have a much higher likelihood of suicide, violence and serious impairment in their adult social functioning than others who grew up in the group and leave. By serious impairment, I mean stuff like drug addiction, homelessness, prison, etc.
I don't know what difference it really makes to those who have left TFI to think about the cadre of kids raised in Selah Homes as a particularly high-risk group, except to prompt a little more aggressive outreach to young adults who don't have an extensive network of childhood friends to support them in their transition.
Another Degree of Social Isolation
As one of the children born in the early days of the Family/COG, I would like to point out that one could often be quite isolated, especially from one's "peers."
I have always felt that having to beat the streets from a young age gave me some resourcefulness that a Ricky Rodriguez did not have an opportunity to develop. In that sense, I had certain survival skills that he might not have had.
However, going out since I was yea high and charming grown systemites into giving food, shelter clothing and/or money may make you less inept at getting by when you're stuck without resources of your own, such as on leaving the Family, but will not necessarily result in not being isolated.
As one of the children born back when there were few other children, I seldom had companions my age. The way things played out for me, I usually lacked companions of my gender as a child. As a "field" kid, I would meet systemite kids, but it was always as an outsider on a "mission" to witness and under the obligation to be a good sample. I was an emissary, I did not get the chance to develop "system" FRIENDS.
Even today I struggle to relate to people in my age group. I am generally better at dealing with people older than me as confidantes. While I have gotten much better at having relationships with "peers," especially if they are of my gender (or gay), I am still at a TOTAL loss when it comes to romance.
When I hit puberty, the Family in the area where I was started to put the kids my age together, bringing them from relative isolation in "homes" filled with adults and younger children (who often were our job). When I was packed off to the germ of the area "teen home," I was gobsmacked by the idea that I would live with two other people of my age and gender. Unfortunately, we were soon preyed upon by the people into whose care we had been placed (and I now suspect, which I did not at the time, that they used the lure of less loneliness).
Bottom line, I consider myself relatively fortunate compared to someone like Ricky in that despite the horrible sex abuse I suffered (like he did) and material deprivation (which he did not have to the same extent), by going out to "witness" or "provision," I could see for myself that the "systemites" who were supposedly so miserable and whose lives were so pointless, often seemed to be less miserable than I felt, and parts of their lives that I had the chance to see seemed much less pointless than mine. It was a very stylized interaction, but interaction in the end, and one little part of me that was less crippled than a WS kid might be.
But you said, interestingly, that the research "on resiliency in people raised in abusive, stressful environments suggests that kids who experience high levels of social isolation from their PEERS are less likely to thrive and survive in adulthood." You conclude, perceptively, that possibly "children raised in Selah Homes who leave TFI have a much higher likelihood of suicide, violence and serious impairment in their adult social functioning than others who grew up in the group and leave[...]." But I just wanted to fill you in on another group of children who, scattered over the globe in the 70's and early 80's in a separatist group, also experienced "high levels of social isolation from their peers."
I would guess that coming later, with the cohorts of children that grew ever larger in the 80's and at least to the early 90's must have brought its own challenges. I do not want to claim they had it better. For example, I probably got much more parental attention as an oldest child who never had many siblings. But it was attention from a very single-mindedly "sold-out" Family member, so it cut both ways. I always knew I had to be a good Family child to please.
A propos of not much, I am reading a book where one of the characters reminds me of so many FG's (and yes, some SG's): "he put the "mental" in "fundamental"."
To my knowledge (have some friends with friends in WS), WS didn't, as a rule, accept many people with kids thru the earlier years, a few people had them while they were there, and some of those kids grew up and had kids. but once they started taking in a bunch of SGA's about 5-7 years ago, that all began to change in a snowball kind of a way. From what i understand, there are a lot of children in WS right now (mostly under the age of 15) from second generation people who work there.