What Children Worry About Most

Quote: “It is well known that parents spend a lot of time worrying about their children’s future, but do they know their children are worrying too?”

Watching the Midday News today an item caught my attention. They were talking about a survey done of 10 to 13 years old.

43% worry about their future and 37% about family. In the news item, they were mostly talking about the latter.

It made me think about the time when I was 10 to 13 years old.  That was 1945 to 1948 and it was a particularly bad time to grow up in Berlin after WW II.

Luckily we weren’t bombed out and still lived in our now windowless apartment. My mother worked as a Trümmerfrau during the cold winter months and beyond. 

My father, unknown to us at that stage, was in an American PoW camp. Did I worry about my future? Not one bit it only could get better, I thought. But it did not for a long while.

For me, it was more worries about the family.

Dad returned in May 1946 and brought my two sisters along whom he had picked up on the way from Bavaria. We were a family again for the first time since 1939.  On that beautiful Spring day, the future gave us a glimmer of hope.

It was not to be. Dad had lost a lot of weight and his old job as a taxi driver was not available. No cars, no petrol! After a few months of unemployment, he landed a job with a road construction company and had to work with a jackhammer. That was heavy work for his emaciated body. The food was rationed and meals were never enough for him.

Sometimes during the night he got up and ate food that was for us kids for the next day. That was when the trouble started. My mother accused him of stealing food from his children. Dad started to sell things from the household to buy extra food on the Black Market. Anything could be bought there if one only had the money. Some of the money he took to the racecourse do “double it” as he said. He never had a big win.

So arguments arose often for any reason, or so I thought. Dad became abusive and family life became a nightmare for us all. Finally, my mother could not stand it anymore and she left him. She took us children with her.  On the day before, when I realised we would move out and the family would break up, I started to cry. My mother mistook my weeping and offered me to stay with dad. That was not what I wanted. I wanted the family to stay together.

Dad was especially nice on the night before and he told us about his wartime experiences, especially in Italy. He was a motor lorry driver taking supplies to the front line. The convoys were constantly under attack by American warplanes.  As the convoy proceeded on the high mountain roads along the Apennines  Mountains the planes were actually flying below them and they attacked the German lorries sideways. There must have been carnage.

It took me about fifty years to realise that Dad actually suffered from PTSD. In those days I did not know anything about it. And if he had said anything to Mum she would probably have said to him, “Pull yourself together!”

Through all this time when my parents had marriage problems, Berlin was blockaded by the Soviet Union and it was the time of the Airlift. We had even less than after the war. One hour of electric power a day and that during the night when industries worked less.

We all worried about the family. How would we cope? As it turned out, badly. After Mum had left Dad things became quieter for us. No more fights. I became the go-between who had to see Dad every month and collect the maintenance money for us kids. My mother had no trust in him but he always paid what had been agreed on.

They were divorced in early 1949 but remarried twenty-five years later so Mum would be able to receive a widows pension after he died from lung cancer. So he looked after us even after he passed away. Mum shared half of his pension with us children.

Coming back to the survey mentioned above I can understand that children at that age worry about the family as they themselves try to find and understand their place in the world. Their childhood comes to an end and they become aware that their parents are not perfect and struggle with life’s challenges. So they question themselves, what will become of us?

Especially now with Climate Change giving us all a big scare. Children formed a new Crusade with their Friday for the Future movement. In my time our problems were more immediate and we had not much to lose. But now, the children realise that the future looks pretty grim if nothing is being done.

I worry with them and for them.


15 thoughts on “What Children Worry About Most

  1. The lot of a father as THE responsible bread-winner in those times of social desperation with their own ill health can bring a good man down…

    Our Father.

    That meager kitchen light
    Cut his reflection on the glass.
    He looks…the collar of his overcoat tugs,
    A fumbling with the latch.

    Another dawn interminably,
    The workplace calls him down.
    The trains, the jostle, the silent journeys
    Through winter’s cutting edge.

    Though visible within my memory,
    No touch, no talk, no sound,
    But an awkward gentle smiling,
    That baleful knotted frown.

    The evening family rosary;
    Pray God maintain our health.
    HIS prayers I’d say were directed
    To stay the creeping stealth
    Of years, that cut a swathe
    Through the patience of the man,
    The blocks, the bricks, the working tools
    Raised welts of callouses on his hands.

    When the cup of love went empty,
    Would do to fill it up with wine.
    He drank to forget the future,
    He drank for Auld Lang Syne!

    The weakness was his, they tell us;
    The drink, the swearing, the hand
    That struck us fiercely stinging…
    But I see the courage in the man.

    And though his “achievements” were empty,
    And poverty enriched our band,
    I’d do worse than esteem his persistence,
    Nor prefer I memories of “better” men.

  2. Pingback: What did I worry about during my growing up Years? – AuntyUta

  3. I think for children it is extremely important to have some good family life. If parents separate, at least they should be civil towards each other. It is so upsetting for children when they become aware of constant, very nasty family fights!
    Berlioz, you say that the children today worry about their future and that you worry with them.
    Too right, there is a lot to worry about. We had a tough time when we were that age in the 1940s, but you are right, we did not worry so much about the future.
    I write about it here:

  4. An interesting part of your biography, Peter. I too like to reflect on the years gone by. Many children don’t seem a happy lot when they grow into their teens.

    I nor Helvi came from divorced or broken families and had happy backgrounds. Families do break up all around the world, many children survive the break-ups especially when couples engage in endless fighting and violence. Family violence is very bad and so are the suicide rates of the young in Australia.

    There are people far more qualified to give possible reasons for that, I always believed that the domestic architecture that seems to promote isolation with houses on individual blocks far away from the hustle and bustle of ‘life’ has a lot to do with it.The aching loneliness of the young seem so obvious and driving around one can almost sense the environmental loneliness and isolation.

    And then, the dismal conservative way we allow ourselves to be governed…I could go on!

    • Thanks for your comment, Gerard. You are making a very good point by pointing out that the dream home on a quarter-acre block adds to the isolation of people. But this is the whole point of capitalism, give everyone some property and they won’t vote Labor anymore.

  5. Peter, this is so powerful and poignant. Thank you for sharing about that time in your life and about your feelings. I am sitting here, reading your words, and crying.

    I, too, worry with, and for, the children of today. It seems “the world” is taking steps backwards instead of forwards. Or, maybe, it is the leaderships doing. ??? However, or whoever, it seems important things should be getting done that are not getting the necessary attention. 😦 And things that are not as important are being passed off as important. 😦 I find all of this so confusing. And worry for our future generations.

    You are such a good writer, Peter!
    I’m glad Uta directed us from her blog over here.
    (((HUGS))) for you and Uta! 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting, Carolyn. We all have different memories of our childhoods. In those days, for instance, the Americans were the good guys but now with Trump with his hands on the levers of power we have to worry. Here the country is burning and the PM goes on holiday. He doesn’t even say where he is. Of course, children and teenagers are worried. He told them not to listen to Greta. There is no need to panic, he said.
      Hughs to you too from Uta and me.

      • You’re welcome! 🙂
        Yes, I feel like you do.
        I find all of this frustrating, angering, sad. 😦
        Please keep writing when you are able to…you have much wisdom to share and you are a great writer!

  6. Kudos for bringing a relevant topic.to the forefront and at the same time strength of character to share your upbringing in such difficult circumstances.
    Thanks and much appreciated for sharing

    • Thank you for commenting. Times have changed but what has not changed is the struggle children have adjusting to the circumstances they find themselves in. Peer pressure and their parents’s expectations are sometimes in opposition. The best parents can always do is a loving relationships with their children, then the children might listen to them.

      • Thanks again. Value your input and shall keep it in mind considering I am a father to a three year old

  7. As usual I enjoy reading your blog. It helps my understanding of the times and some people
    that I have known including myself. Its not easy finding someone who would understand the emotional and physical trauma associated with being there in those days. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Reblogged this on AuntyUta and commented:
    Reading this again after nearly three years, I became very emotional about the disruption of family life due to bad war and after-war experiences!
    I ask myself, who profits from war? How can wars be avoided?

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