Advantages of a Rough Childhood

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How did Oprah and others, who have had a terrible childhood, become such productive and successful adults? In fact throughout the world there are people who have had horrible childhoods yet rose to become productive adults. People such as Benjamin Franklin, Larry Ellison, and many more. There are also examples of this in Harper Lee's acclaimed novel To Kill a Mockingbird; Consequently, there is research that suggests that having a rough childhood can make a person into a stronger adult than they would be without; However there is the stereotype that people born into a terrible home grow up to be disastrous slobs. Those with awful childhoods can become productive adults because of their trauma.

Throughout the ages there have been countless individuals who overcame a difficult childhood to become productive, successful adults. Take for example Abraham Lincoln who was born to parents that owned less than the land they lived on. Lincoln had to walk for miles to find any book to read. Consequently, he learned resilience and persistence that allowed him to pull the United States together during the War Between the States. Another person who overcame an adversarial childhood is Scrooge McDuck. He may be fictional but his fictionality does not alienate him from being a great example of using a difficult childhood to become a strong adult.

Scrooge McDuck worked as a shoe polisher in Glasgow Scotland in the late 1800s. He decided to turn his life around when he was paid an 1875 U.S. dime, which was worthless in Glasgow at the time. There and then he vowed to never be taken advantage of again. He has  Frain 2 since earned billions of dollars and instead of being taken advantage of he has taken advantage of others. Both of these people used the lessons they learned in their not-so-easy childhoods to rise up and become more than the circumstances of their birth. Tom Robinson from the novel To Kill a Mockingbird is perhaps the best example of a person born into a rough home that productive adults. He was born with what was the worst disadvantage a person could have in 1930s Alabama, being born black. Mr. Robinson didn't let the color of his skin stop him from working hard to make a living.

He even says I picks for Mr. Link Deas. (Lee, p 217). He works hard everyday picking crops on land he does not even own. As an African-American in the 1930s he almost definitely had a horrid childhood full of harassment; however, he does not let that stop him from making an honest living picking crops and raising a family. Robinson had to learn additional skills and work longer, harder hours than the white citizens of Maycomb ever did.

Everyone who was born into a rough home had virtually everything against them but most did not let that stop them. Atticus Finch from To Kill a MockingBird who is widely regarded as wise even says to his son I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. (Lee 128). Those who have had atrocious childhoods often don't have the same development at those who had more fortunate upbrings and thus are at a disadvantage in school, at the job market, or even in the work environment after they have secured a job, but most try anyways. Sometimes, this knowledge that they have it rough, is what helps them overcome their disadvantages.

There was Frain 3 recently a study conducted where people who had an inclement or uncertain childhood and people who had a more privileged childhood were tested to see how they perform switching between tasks. The people who experienced unpredictability in childhood were substantially better at switching tasks than those with safe homes.


Being able to switch between tasks is vital in today's world, where everything is interconnected through the internet, and being able to do this quickly can allow them to be more successful than their peers. Parents that had terrible childhoods will often want their children to have the opposite upbringing they had. Take for example founding father and orphan Alexander Hamilton who grew up with no set structure in his life. To ensure this did not happen to his son he gave him a very strict schedule with only one hour a day to do with as he pleases.
So, Oprah and every other successful person from humble to downright awful beginnings managed to delete the circumstances of their origins and become better, stronger, more productive adults than they ever could have been by learning lessons from their disadvantageous childhoods.

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Advantages Of A Rough Childhood. (2019, Mar 13). Retrieved March 5, 2024 , from

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