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Not Growing Up Fast Enough, Perhaps?

I think a lot of the time, the problem is not that children are growing up too fast, it is that modern, mainstream culture has gotten the process of helping children grow up wrong. What's more, that same culture has some very odd ideas about what childhood is about.

The idea that childhood should be a special space that exists separate from adult life is a very new one, in terms of human history. As a side note, it does make you wonder what is so wrong with our society that we feel the need to isolate our children from its workings so that they can be happy - in fact, it's a very good indicator that our work arrangements are not going to make adults happy either.

Whilst it's true that children need and want their own space to play (the same is true of adults), their deepest desire is to grow up and take their place in the world.

Instead, society has turned childhood into a fetish. and youth into an obsession. I think this fetish that adults have for the ideal of childhood is also substantially responsible for the very disturbing sexualisation of children. And the failure of proper mature role models goes a long way to explain the problems that people have mentioned in other Stories in this Group. Without a proper process of maturation, children will adopt behaviours and attitudes that are not appropriate nor respectful. Whilst discipline is certainly important, the removal of good role models is what causes the most crucial problems, in my opinion.

Indeed, many biologically fully grown adults frequently act like children, (which is certainly reinforced by society's obsession with youth), and so they can hardly be good role models even with the best intentions.

What is needed for matters to improve is not even more protection of this notion of innocence (which is purely a false ideal created by adults based on their own issues) but the creation of proper paths of maturation, so that they learn age-appropriate behaviour, and how to evolve into mature, repsonsible adults. In short, to grow up better, and to not have that process delayed or stunted.
TheTardyDodo TheTardyDodo 31-35, M 5 Responses Jun 24, 2007

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Growing up is a continuum, not two states: child | adult; nobody changes from child to adult overnight. As a parent you have to allow your child to travel along the continuum at a pace which suits their development (not their desires), allowing more freedom and expecting more responsibility as they go. <br />
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The world is full of risks, some old and some new, and probably always will be. A parent needs to manage their child's exposure to those risks and, as they come to understand them, allow them to handle them by themself. For example: expecting to monitor all phone calls a teenage girl makes is a recipe for disaster as she will a) find another way of communicating and b) resent the intrusion which will undermine your ability to communicate with her. Much better to make sure that she understands risks and feels able to talk to you when she encounters something unusual.<br />
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You have to trust your children and sometimes you will have to pick up pieces when they make a mistake.

The difficult thing is balancing the magical, carefree and happy childhood we all want for our kids, and instilling the values that will benefit them as grown adults. I think it is possible to have an innocent child that is also aware of what is accepted in society and that there are consequences to their actions. It is a damn hard job and sometimes easier to just "let them do what ever they like" but it is all about the long term view and I think a lot of parents forget that part.

I agree to an extent. As a parent I want my child to be burden free of certain things in the world, but in the same notion my child has a right to privacy on the phone.. um no. To me it seems to many parents are willing to let someone else raise their children. I know it is rough only brining in one paycheck its all we get in my household, but I am taking responsibility for my childrens upbringing. <br />
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When my son gets old enough he won't get an allowance he will earn it. same with my daughter. If my child is rude and disrespectful well they will be punished accordingly. its hard to do it these days though. Everyone seems more worried about other people's children then their own.<br />
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It is a parents responsibility to protect their children from the dangers of the world, but like someone else said that is a diet of all candy, and without any substanance they will never be prepared for the real world. Be like a five star athlete that quit going to the gym.

You've hit the nail on the head. When I was younger all I wanted was to be older, and now that I've grown quite a bit I crave years past. You've spoken before about mental age not matching physical age, and I think this is very applicable here. Even if a 12 year old has the mind of a 20 year old, they are trapped by society to act a certain age, crushing their sense of self, and when they cannot find happiness in the mold set out for them they spend the rest of their lives trying to achieve the age they never were on the inside. Wow, run on sentence! If that didn't make sense, it's because I'm multi-tasking. Law and Order: SVU is very distracting.

Well said! I agree with you and admire your eloquence. I've just recently come to the same conclusion with my children. Realizing that my primary job as a parent to be a role model and to teach them how to be capable, responsible and ethical adults. Before this I too felt that my primary job as a parent was to create a childhood full of happy memories, fun times and <br />
magic. While certainly a necessary component of childhood, I've realized that these ob<x>jectives alone would be like giving a child a diet of only candy.