Home Alone: Exposing the "Latch Key" Phenomenon
Becoming a single parent is rarely ever a wish a little girl’s heart makes, yet somehow it’s the reality most little girls who are allowed to grow become. Why? Is it because girls aren’t prepared well for womanhood? Or is it because she grew up feeling alone and she attracted a life of loneliness? Let’s think about it. We attract who we are. If we think that we are alone, then whatever kind of relationship we acquire, most times we end up losing it or attracting lonely day walkers who don’t have clue to make a relationship work much less raising a family. The truth is, we attract the people in our lives who will teach us a lesson or hopefully wake us up!
In the mean time the children born into the relationships we conjure up are practically left to raise themselves. Why? Because parents who are lonely are also emotionally absent. Recently, I watched a movie on Netflix entitled Pihu, by writer and director, Vinod Kapri, a film releases in India in 2018. It’s a story about a 2 year old girl who is left unsupervised by her mother who is lying still on the bed, presumably dead by suicide. The little girl (Pihu) is left to wander in her home, becomes hungry and has to eat left overs from the plates of party goers who attended her 2nd birthday given by her mother with her father not present. Her father calls her dead mothers phone only to curse at his wife. Her sister also calls but with no real sense of care. There is an image of a suicide note written on the bedroom vanity stating that there was an intent to take the life of Pihu as well but her mother couldn’t bring herself to take Pihu’s life. Pihu is in danger because of her age and desperation for food and general care. She escapes death at every turn until her father senses the severity of and books a return flight home to take responsibility for his family. He find his wife dead and his daughter, Pihu, barely alive. Overall, there is a breakdown in this family’s value system, and there is no village to support them as a whole. Pihu is left “latch key” as are many children in their own home.
As a single mother, I too, found myself being a mother to “latch key” children when I wasn’t able to be there on time due to work requirements. Once I saw it was not ethical or morally acceptable. I terminated my job until I could come up with a better solution. Sadly, I am not alone. So many single parents, men and women are placed in this position. Why? Why aren’t children made a priority? Why don’t parents decide to work together for the good of their family regardless of their differences? Where is the village? Who is to blame?
I say we are all to blame. When we bring children into the world, they should become the priority. When one parent exhibits a behavior that is not rational or needs emotional care and attention, then we need to pay attention. As a society we have become so cold, lack compassion and empathy, and are therefore, blind to the needs of others. Stories like Pihus’ is an eyeopener and should alert us of our failure to care for one another. We have to do a better job at communicating, by learning to talk to people fearlessly. By speaking our hearts to one another purposefully and fearlessly, we open the door to truthful conversations that are needed to relieve intense pain, sadness, bitterness, resentment and anger. We can heal ourselves if we choose to. Our health, home and happiness is our responsibility. There are steps to take to become spiritually mature. We will take about them in another post.
Until then, feel free to listen to the full review of the movie and the rest of my “latch key” confessional. By exposing the “latch key” phenomenon, we will open communication in homes and hopefully prevent the dangers affecting our children. We are their protectors. It’s up to us to grow up, be civil and teach our children how to protect their hearts by creating an environment for them to grow up and talk to people fearlessly.
Crystal E. Melville
Community Chaplain - Life Coach