Bad Parenting 101, or How to Screw-Up Your Kids with the Help of Ghosts

‘Now, I know I shouldn’t leave you alone with ghosts, but if I were a kind and reasonable mother, we’d hardly have enough for a ten-minute short film let alone ten episodes!’

I finished watching The Haunting of Hill House a few days ago. I enjoyed it tremendously (it has the right balance of creepiness, terrifying jump scares, psychologically traumatic events and emotionally tortured characters), but, as usual when it comes to horror films about families living in large spooky houses in the West, I was outraged by the way the parents treated their children.

If your children are scared witless because they’ve seen a ghost or monster at bedtime, why would you insist they continue to sleep alone? What sort of sadist does this to small children? I don’t care whether or not you believe in ghosts/ that your house is haunted — if your kids wake up night after night screaming, why would you leave them alone in their beds?

In Hill House, the parents say stuff like, ‘If you see [the ghost] come tell us and we’ll deal with it’ or ‘No, you didn’t see a ghost; it was a nightmare/your imagination/a shadow etc.’ How unhelpful! Can you imagine your parents saying that and then leaving you alone in a dark room? No wonder the Hill House kids grow up totally fucked.

I know the heartless parents are necessary to the plot: The Hill House storyline would be a lot different if it were set in, say, KL. There would be major exorcism carried out immediately, and the whole family would camp out in one bedroom until the problem was sorted out. Maybe the children would grow up to be famous mediums with their own temple.

I remember our priest, Father Martin, blessing our house before we moved in. This house was known to be haunted and so Father Martin blessed every room, even the outhouse! But the ghosts hung around anyway. They didn’t do much more than turn doorknobs and cause lights to go on and off though.



2 thoughts on “Bad Parenting 101, or How to Screw-Up Your Kids with the Help of Ghosts

  1. The typical parental comments to their children following hauntings reminds me of the fatuous advice given to youngsters (and indeed adults) after they report bullying: ‘Ignore it and it will go away,’ ‘Tell an adult’ and ‘Hit them back’ — all by and large useless and lacking reassurance. But then, as you say, there’d be no story if such matters were properly addressed from the start!

    Liked by 1 person

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