Thursday, April 10, 2014

Parenting for the Future

In decades past, children matured much earlier than they do today. Back then, the majority of parents raised children to become adults who were productive members of society. Girls married earlier, and boys began working for a living at a young age. It is worth pointing out that children WERE READY to begin these chapters at an earlier age than the children of today. Too often today it seems that parents are just raising their children to become, well, much larger children.

American parents of the 21st century have been conditioned to believe that children should be sheltered from the bad things that life has to offer. The idea that parents should forbid their children from playing with sharp objects, watching movies or playing video games with "adult themes," and associating with other children whose behavior is questionable, is beaten into our skulls. Are we raising children, or are we creating adults? If our children are never exposed to adult ideas before they reach adulthood, how are they going to know how to deal with them? Shouldn't we instead be educating our children on these dangers and coaching them on how to make smart decisions when they are faced with these situations? We can't shelter them from reality for their entire lives, and why would we want to? Death, sex, drugs, violence...life throws these taboos into our paths without regard to whether or not our parents have prepared us for them.

I sincerely believe that sheltering our children from these very real things is short-changing them and inhibiting their ability to become functioning, emotionally and economically healthy adults. I am certainly not saying that we should start allowing our children to watch rated R movies. Another difference between the current year and 1950 is the amount of adult themes that our children have at their fingertips with today's technology. But isn't that also something they need to be prepared for by the time they reach an age where they will be able to  reach it with or without our consent? Shouldn't we educate them on the bad things that the world has to offer, and why they shouldn't accept it? Further still, shouldn't we be teaching them by example how to be parents should they choose to one day?

But alas, what do I know?

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