“We were only there for 3 years,” says Joella (Johnson) Edwards, one of the House Parents at Eagle Village in the 70’s. “But it was a packed with many adventures. The one thing that I remember most is the boys when they could enjoy being the little boys they were. Many of them had to grow up on their own. So they never really got to be little boys.
“One day Mike had the tractor hooked up to the flatbed trailer. He and the boys were off to pick apples in the orchard down behind the house. And the boys picked up sticks and started playing like they were pirates and the trailer was their ship… The boys got to be boys.”
What was true in the 70’s is still true today- many of the kids we serve don’t get to be kids. They start taking care of themselves, and even other siblings, at a young age. Kids in elementary school find themselves responsible for meals, getting everyone in the household to school, and sometimes taking care of their parents.
Psychologists call this role reversal parentification. Excessive parentification with no emotional support can be a form of emotional neglect and, in some cases, can have lasting implications for victims. Not only can it hurt a child’s development, but it also appears to have connections to anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and other issues later in adulthood.
The continual rise in this problem can be accredited to numerous factors. One that has grown rapidly in recent years, is the Opioid Crisis. As opioid use spreads so do the stories of kids forced to find a way to keep their home functioning while their parents are under the influence of drugs.
While kids are in our care at Eagle Village, we want them to just be kids.
That is why we invest in making our houses into homes, offer school right on our campus, and take the kids out on adventures to have fun. In the moments where we watch them play baseball in the fields by the houses, trade Pokémon cards, or just toss back their heads and laugh we know we’ve gotten something right.