How have George and Lydia failed their children in "The Veldt" by Ray Bradbury?

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In "The Veldt" by Ray Bradbury, George and Lydia have failed their children, Wendy and Peter, by allowing technology, specifically the Happylife Home and its interactive nursery, to replace them as parents. Their indulgence and negligence have resulted in the children becoming disrespectful, entitled, and dangerously obsessed with the nursery. Even when confronted with their children's escalating aggression and hostility, George and Lydia avoid taking responsibility and instead rely on outside experts. Their failure to provide love and discipline has led to a fatal outcome and seemingly irreversible damage to Wendy and Peter's character.

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As he talks to Lydia about the supposed neuroses of their children, George observes:

Who was it said, "Children are carpets, they should be stepped on occasionally"? We’ve never lifted a hand. They’re insufferable – let’s admit it. They come and go when they like; they treat us as if...

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we were offspring. They’re spoiled and we’re spoiled.

The irony is that, having accurately diagnosed the problem, George immediately decides to consult David McClean, the psychologist, about Wendy and Peter's morbid obsessions. McClean confirms George's opinion, but his very presence is part of the problem. Instead of taking responsibility for their children's upbringing, George and Lydia have outsourced their parental duties to experts and machines. They are so distant from their children that they have scarcely noticed Wendy and Peter behaving with a cold, sociopathic distaste for their parents which is far more sinister than usual childhood rebellion.

David McClean observes that George and Lydia have allowed machines to replace them in their children's hearts. There is, however, no evidence that the children ever had any affection for their parents. Their parents have not shown them any love, only indulgence, which proves to be a disastrous substitute. The children tolerate their parents as long as they are indulged, but it proves impossible for George and Lydia to assert authority when they have never done so before. Their laziness and neglect have allowed their children to turn into murderers. While this is literally fatal for the parents, the reader also assumes a bleak future for Wendy and Peter, since their characters seem to have been damaged beyond repair.

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Despite their good intentions, George and Lydia Hadley's decision to purchase a Happylife Home to automate their life negatively affects their children's psyche, as they allow Wendy and Peter to completely control their home. Both Wendy and Peter become obsessed with their interactive nursery, which displays images of their thoughts. Lately, Wendy and Peter have been conjuring the environment of the African veldt, which reveals their increasingly violent and hostile thoughts toward their parents. As the children become more and more obsessed with their nursery, their attitudes become more threatening toward George and Lydia, who allow their children to talk back and blatantly disobey them. A psychologist even tells George and Lydia that the veldt is a reflection of their children's resentment and anger, which prompts George to lock the nursery.

Essentially, George and Lydia have failed their children by allowing technology to replace them as parents. They have unknowingly allowed themselves to become obsolete and have raised entitled, disrespectful children. Instead of fostering genuine relationships with Peter and Wendy, George and Lydia have allowed the nursery to raise their children, which is the primary reason why Peter and Wendy develop into aggressive, disobedient people.

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The short story "The Veldt" by Ray Bradbury tells of parents in the future who buy a fully automated home, including a virtual reality nursery that can create any environment the children imagine. The two children, Wendy and Peter, become obsessed with an African veldt setting complete with lions feeding on carcasses.

In the story, George and Lydia, the parents, fail their children by spoiling them with this elaborate house and nursery, allowing these technological devices to take over the primary positions in their children's lives. A psychologist named David McClean, who George invites over to discuss the children, explains it succinctly: that in giving them so much, George and Lydia have spoiled the children more than most. He says, "You've let this room and this house replace you and your wife in your children's affections." He recommends, to remedy the situation, George and Lydia should shut down the room and the automated features of the house so they as parents can reconnect with their children.

The parents accept the advice of the psychologist and close the nursery. However, they fail the children one more time by giving in to their tears and pleadings and opening the nursery for a last session, a mistake that proves fatal to the parents.

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George Hadley bought an expensive Happylife Home that is fully automated, to the point where his wife feels the house is raising her children more than she is. The feature that concerns them most is the nursery, because it is telepathic in addition to being automated. 

The children can control the nursery, and the parents do not like what they see. The nursery has dangerous animals from Africa. George also finds his old wallet in there, covered with lion drool, and doesn’t know how it got there. 

"I don't know anything," he said, "except that I'm beginning to be sorry we bought that room for the children. If children are neurotic at all, a room like that—"

"It's supposed to help them work off their neuroses in a healthful way." 

George isn’t convinced. He brings in a psychologist to evaluate his children, who tells him the children are seriously damaged and he should tear the room down and bring them in every day for treatment. This surprises George, who just thought his children were spoiled. 

"I'm afraid so. One of the original uses of these nurseries was so that we could study the patterns left on the walls by the child's mind, study at our leisure, and help the child. In this case, however, the room has become a channel toward destructive thoughts, instead of a release away from them." 

By the time George brings in the psychologist, it is really too late. His children are sociopaths and he never realized it. He has only supported their behavior with his indulgence of them with this room. Automated houses and nurseries do not replace real human contact. The real way George and Lydia let down their children was not being there for them earlier, allowing the house to do it instead.

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