"In the early 1990s, a team of psychologists set out to determine how a mother's attentiveness affects her children as they grow up. They took two groups of monkeys and placed them in two different environments. In the first environment, the mother always had access to food. She could focus all her attention on her baby instead of constantly looking for food. In the second environment, the food was harder to find. The mother had to spend so much time looking for food she often neglected her child.
The results were tragic. The second group of babies grew up with noticeable despair and anxiety issues. Their brains literally looked different. Their brain cells couldn't regulate emotions like their healthier peers'. Once they became adults, the second group of monkeys was shy, clingy, weak and socially awkward. They had trouble making friends, and they never became leaders. They were forever scarred—and their potential forever stunted—by their distracted mothers."
I've seen this impact in my work as a teacher and counselor, with boys and girls, boy in boys' ranches, adults in federal, state and municipal prisons and jails. Some people do not have the ability to see options, to examine ideas, to experiment with different processes. They appear to have learned how to be helpless as defined by Martin Seligman, Learned Helplessness Research
Ed Lindaman stated, "Options without awareness yield me no freedom".
Any organism with a brain can be taught learned helplessness. Experiments on rats, pigeons, dogs, monkeys, octopus, fish and humans reveal that all can very easily be taught how to be helpless. Learned Helplessness Demonstration. Helplessness is a learned behavior.
I am not talking about the helplessness that comes from disabilities, or age; Learned helplessness is about a behavioral trait, one that can produce depression and anxiety.
Parents with resources, enough food, shelter, health care, education and discretionary money may have time to spend with their children, teaching them how to communicate, solve problems, resolve conflicts, they teach how to explore options, examine ideas, experiment with processes and take action that makes a difference.
Parents without money resources, working several jobs, not spending time with their children, have difficulty learning these skills themselves and are unable to pass them on to their children. Some parents are so depressed and anxious that they may not work outside the home, and may not have the initiative to learn the skills themselves.
Martin Seligman has a training model that I find works very effectively and efficiently, Learned Optimism.