Perceptions of childhood

This is probably just a continuation of my thoughts from yesterday but there have been some trends going on that just bother me completely. We do not have to delve far back into our ancestry to figure out that societal views of children have changed drastically. We have become a country that basis its general ideology on popular culture (pop culture for short). We have allowed ourselves to be influenced by what we are told is the best thing for us since sliced bread. If we don’t buy this and if we don’t buy that then how are we to measure our success. We have been applying this same thinking to our children.

Step back some where between 20 and 30 years ago. We had already left the family farms behind the generation just prior to that. We had become full industrialized. Enter the technology era. Enter “hype” or “hysterical” news broadcasts. Ratings went up the more sensational the news. Commercials showing how hot, sexy, and cool it is to own the latest technology. The push to have kids enter kindergarten so that they could be on top of the job market, that was actually changing rapidly from factory to technology. Realize that even to date only a handful of states actually require kindergarten. Many require localities to offer it but it is not required. At this time Headstart was coming into being, its goal originally was to offer some advantages to the lowest of the socioeconomic classes. Children whose parents may not even have a GED, poverty stricken and typically there was substance or alcohol abuse at home. Most of these programs were originally aimed at inner city children where the problems seemed to be concentrated. If you lived in suburbia or rurally you were “lucky” to have a program.

Nursery school and become day care and preschool options as both parents had to enter the workforce in order to keep up with the Jones’. Inflation and economic problems of the mid to late 70’s never really went away, they were masked by a bull market on wall street and around the world (pre-cursor to today’s economic strife). So the need to find someone to watch our and actually raise our children became a commodity. The push to make sure that our children were prepared to enter the growing competitive job market so they could have the big house, big mortgage, expensive gas hog car, etc.

For most people my age this was when it began, we may have already been in school and it was those of our generation that were a bit younger that really began to feel the push. Children were once again a commodity. Left more and more to their own devices with stricter rules and harsher punishments for not meeting standards, not set by our parents but by society. The push to be on the college track became harsher. You must graduate high school and either go to college or go to trade school. You had to work hard to get that high paying job because look at all the things you can buy. A false sense of security was created, you could get the training, the piece of paper and all would be well. Companies began to push for degrees and specified training making it even more competitive.

Now jobs are almost non-existent. Leisure time is really not leisure time. Kids are being pushed harder and younger to get top grades, learn to read, do busy work aka homework and they are burning out faster and younger. Drop out rates, suicide rates and other factors of a deragatory nature have increased since then.

School became a place of being politically correct, basically we don’t want to offend anyone anywhere. Schools became a place where children were learning their personal values. Parents have been encouraged to seek their own time without the kids because there will be someone else to watch them. The break down of the family has ensued. Not because of a lack of scripture in the school but because of the encouragement to let others raise our children. To let the state dictate how they should think, how we as parents and adults should think. We should shun those that are different or who have the backbone to stand up and say hey this isn’t right, I can make my own decisions.

Thinking outside the box is discouraged. Disparity between classes has grown, there is a vanishing middle class, we are returning to a time of Upper and Lower class only. We have allowed our children to become that which many of were taught is wrong.

How does this ramble pertain to its title so far? Well, if we (my now 30 something generation) have been taught to let no obstacle stand in our way to fulfill what has become the American Dream where does that leave our children? With strangers, nonfamily members almost from birth. We continue to pursue our dreams and feel that we only need provide the basic life sustaining needs to our children. With little or no compassion or room for them to explore the world. We have been put in a box and we have put our kids in a box. We only have time for them at our convenience. Their needs going unmet they seek out their peers and others whose values are no where near what we would like to see our children exhibit. Yet when they do we punish them for their behavior. Their selfish, self loathing behavior. So of course when are rushed for instant gratification we have been taught is our right, something we are entitled to, then our kids want the same. However, young children have always wanted instant gratification their world is narrow it pertains to themselves. what are now considered preschoolers (20-30 years ago a 4 years was still a toddler and preschoolers didn’t exist) are expected to behave as little adults.

Kids are no longer allowed to be kids, we have been indoctrinated to believe that the only way to succeed is to cram as many facts and figures down children’s throats as inhumanly possible. We also have been indoctrinated to believe that we only have to provide basic necessities to kids and they have to earn the rest of it. Well after all didn’t we have to earn all that? How many of us actually had to work real hard for things growing up? Not many to be honest. Our parents loved us unconditionally and didn’t feel the need to bribe us to do things. We did it because we loved and respected our parents. They took notice of how we felt, what things made us excited, etc and provided them. If you weren’t perfect it was ok. Now perfection is a must, you must make your parents see you as a little human not as a second class citizen only to be recognized for successes and failures. But aren’t our children’s success, failures, happiness, etc a reflection of our own needs, wants and desires? When we tell them we have signed them up for music lessons, sports activities, etc because it is good for them. Are we really doing them a favor or are we living vicariously through them? Public school kids are rushed from school to one activity after another and then still have to have a meal, get home work done and find time to sleep. There are many homeschooling families that really are no different. School all morning, this activity and that activity. OMG the kids want to watch TV, we just can’t let that happen. we must control it too.

WE MUST CONTROL OUR KIDS OUR WE LOSE THEM TO…TO…TO… To what I ask? That they might need to chill out and relax a bit? That they might be interested in or passionate about something that we don’t think matters? Think back on your childhood. Think back to those things you were really interested in but were discouraged from because some adult said it was a waste of time, it wasn’t going to land you the job you needed to buy stuff, what ever excuse.

Think about how we were actually controlled coerced into doing things we really didn’t want to. Sorry but my generation has been the one to most frequently change jobs/careers. Why? because we weren’t happy. The things we set out to become became childhood fancy. We were discouraged from following our hearts and dreams and making them a reality. Why should foist these same misconceptions on our children? Why should we send them away to someone else to teach at younger and younger ages? Why don’t we just take our children back and say we have had enough?

Fear, being different from societal norm makes people afraid. Where is the support? What will people think? If most of you haven’t figures out by now, I really don’t give much of a hoot what other people thik. Well, less now than ever. We need to stand up for our children and stand beside them and support their dreams and passions. We need to love them no matter what they do. We need to show them that it is ok to mess up but that we will be there beside them no matter what. We need to make sure that our children love and respect us by showing them the same. So what if they won’t clean their room, eat the veggies or whatever mundane thing we expect of them. Go clean their room if it really bothers you and guess what they will eat veggies when they are ready. Live in the moment, the here and now and share life and explore the world with your kids. The future will take care of itself, besides who can guarantee that tomorrow will ever come?

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