Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Childhood Lost

When I was a child, I’m talking prehistory here folks, kids were kids. We rode our bikes wherever we went, we had hoola hoops until we began senior high, we obeyed our parent’s and we weren’t rushed to grow up—at least not to the extent the children of the new millennium have been. We respected our elders and police officers were our friends.


The pill changed attitudes. Sex education got its toe in the door of most schools and we children learned where babies came from. (Here’s something to think about: When my mother was born, it was illegal to share birth control information or even explain where babies came from) I remember sitting in our guidance class, boys snickering on one side of the room, girls solemnly on the other, while a blushing middle-aged woman gave us the goods on pregnancy, gonorrhea and syphilis. Talk about an eye opener. And, all using stick figures and grainy film… LOL


To be honest, we didn’t learn much because the poor woman teaching was way too embarrassed to answer questions and she spoke in a whisper. The boys hooted, the girls blushed.


Today, we’ve got AIDS and some diseases we’d never dreamed about in our liberated ‘Free Love’ 70’s culture. Today we have girls 12 years old waxing their legs, and more. There are beauty pageants for babies, youngsters and pre-teens. Pre-teens made up to look like much, much older girls, stuffed into dresses that an eighteen year old would love. Yet, let a boy or man look at these harlequins of maturity and he’s called a pervert. Mothers berate the girls for not doing well in these pageants while plastering more make up on them. Read about a 12 year old who's already a veteran of this insanity.


Oh and let's not forget body image. It used to be married women who dieted to 'get their figure back' after childbirth. When I was a teenager, I don't remember anyone dieting. Now, it's not uncommon for a ten year old to be counting calories. Anorexia was unheard of in my younger years. Today, it's rampant among all ages, even the very young.


Sex sells! Yes, it does, but along with sex comes responsibility. What on Earth inspired a pageant that encouraged young girls to act much older? What parent thought bringing little Sally up as some pretty doll would make her happy, or make the world a better place?


The AIDs scare has made sex a roulette game. Do it and you could die. But, the advertisements and encouragements from ‘responsible’ adults has dragged these kids forward at an outrageous speed. They no longer have time to be kids.


Add the internet, with its free porn and sexually explicit sites, and you’ve got the makings of one hell of a wasted generation. Parent who would like to raise their children properly, discipline them, monitor what the view or who they see, etc., have been handcuffed by idiotic laws that won’t allow them to do it. Touch your child and you could be charged with abuse. Spank little Johnny and find yourself in jail, and Johnny in foster care, which could truly destroy him.


The pendulum has swung too far, one more time. We’ve gone from ‘you can’t explain what causes babies’ to creating miniature sex objects in our children. Explicit sex if fine, but along with it, you need education and maturity. I was a firm believer in giving a child as much knowledge as they asked for. If my daughter, at age three, asked me where she came from, I didn’t go into a long spiel about biology; I told her the hospital in town. If that wasn’t good enough, she’d let me know. It’s up to the parents to take back the control they were meant to have and to use it wisely. If that means we need classes for people, then let’s have them.


I pray that the next generation will find some middle, sane ground and let their children have their childhood, as well as the education they need. What say you all?


19 comments:

  1. Great post, Jude.

    I agree that children are pushed to grow up too fast in so many ways, especially when it comes to sex and body image.

    Lots to think about before Thursday :)

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  2. Interesting blog post, Jude. I'm not sure what the middle ground would be and it's hard to see society moving backwards, but I agree kids are growing up too fast. (I hate those little kid beauty pageants by the way.)

    Another example is the fact that when I was a child, kindergarten was just coming into being. For my husband a few years earlier, it had been optional. In kindergarten, a child was exposed to the ABC's, numbers and such. Now, we have full day kindergarten and a child is expected to know not only his ABC's but also his name, address and phone number before he gets there!

    So now preschool for 4 years olds, which was once optional, is almost required if you want your child to be on the same level as the others. Why can't we let kids be kids for a few years? Do they really need to start that structured learning (and sports) at age 3? That's a hot button topic for me.

    Have a great day!

    Jamie

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  3. I'm not so sure about the age school starts at being a huge problem. I suppose it depends what you're used to.

    Compulsory education starts at five in the UK but, in Wales at least, most children start full time Nursery school at age three.
    And my mother taught me a lot of the basics before I went there.

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  4. Its a very interesting thing to read the blogs here, including what I plan to post tommorrow, from those of us in the business of writing stories depicting passion and often sex. I have this squirming feeling that we kind of want it both ways, we want our kids to stay pure and yet we are a part of the pop culture which is corrupting. In my own defense, I guess I'd say that what is needed is the depiction of seuxality in a valued way, not a shallow way, which is our creative challenge. There's sexuality as presented by great writers and movies like The Reader, and then there's Flava Flav with a clock around his neck being followed by a harem of women in sleazy clothes. How do we have one without the other and which side of the fence is our stuff regarded?

    I hear what you;re saying here, because I'm saying the same thing, but I realise we're caught in the middle.

    C. Sanchez-Garcia

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  5. Hi Kim, thanks for stopping by and posting. When I was a child, very few children went to kindergarten and there was no such thing as nursery school. Coming from a very small town might have had a little to do with it.

    When we moved to more civilized places, not much btw, it really was the same. I'm not sure there was even a kindergarten, but I do know, I never went.

    Regular school starts when a child is six in Canada. I began a little early, birthday in the wrong month, but I had all that time to be a kid, and man did I take advantage. LOL

    I do think you're right. It depends on what the child is going to learn in those really young years. 3 is, in my opinion, too young to require formal education. Five is young, but by then a child has learned a lot from simply being around parents and other kids.

    I could really go on about this for a long time.

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  6. Jamie, I really don't see giving our children time to be children as being a step backwards. I mean think about this: When little Timmy doesn't understand all of his work in grade three, is he held back? Not here. He's pushed forward and winds up unable to do the next years work because he missed some important bits for the previous year. We have young adults graduating from high school who can barely read.

    What have all these kids learned? It doesn't matter if you know the work, just stick around long enough and it'll all be fine.

    Is life like that? Is a boss going to tell Timmy he doesn't need to know his math or english when his job is focused on those subjects? Not likely.

    So, instead of starting them off at 3, let them start at 5 and if they fail their final exams, have them stay behind until they understand the material. Simple.

    That to me would be progress.

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  7. Jude-
    What I think is interesting about your post is I'm pretty sure the majority agrees with you. Most everyone I talk with agrees that children shouldn't be walking around in heels and bathing suits and that discipline at home is being decided by the minority. The daycare where I live has now been told by the state that they can't put a child in time out, they can't put a child in the corner because it makes them feel secluded (um, isn't that the idea?) and taking away five minutes of play time is next in line. So??? Just how is a teacher/daycare person supposed to discipline? I'm sure there are tons of people out there that can just sit down and carry on an adult conversation with their two year old, but mine ain't one of 'em. LOL

    The pagents are insane as well. And see? So far, everyone agrees with you. So who in the world is making all of these crazy decisions and rules for us?? Do they even have kids?? And if they do, are they like that lady who's had 14 babies and is all over the news? Yeah, THAT's who I want making critial life decisions for me!

    Laura

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  8. GArce, I don't see it as having it both ways. I see it as parents taking responsibility for their children. I'm a huge believer in teaching kids all they want to know about sex. I'd hate one of mine to grow up thinking gay was a bad thing if they were gay. I would have hated it if my daughter got pregnant because she didn't know what made babies.

    Yes, I write some pretty risque things, and I wouldn't necessarily want a child reading it. But, my kids both know I write erotica. Yes, they're older, and it hasn't always been easy to explain, but I'm extremely glad I did.

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  9. You must have misunderstood my comment. I don't think children need formal education so early- 3 is too young IMO. But that's what's happening these days with preschools and kindergarten...

    I could go on and on about this but never mind. LOL

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  10. Yes, our children are pushed to be more adult, but I think I HAVE the center ground. Let me explain.

    For my kids' safety, there are things they have to know. I don't see educating them on VD as taking away their childhood. I don't see explaining to a three-year-old that they have private areas that no one should be touching and what to do if someone does as taking away a childhood but rather protecting it.

    What DOES strip our kids of their childhood?

    Not the internet, but the parents who are so uninvolved as to not supervise and not care what the kid does there. Same things with music and TV and books. I write sex in my books, but I don't sell them to kids. I don't market them to kids. I have warnings on my site to discourage kids, and if their parents are too frickin busy and disinterested to watch what their kids are doing, they get what they deserve. Unfortunately for the rest of us, there are far too many permissive or uninvolved parents around.

    The world is geared toward this crap. A parent, to raise a child with a childhood, has to SEARCH for underwear for a 5 year old kid that isn't high-rise or bikini and skorts instead of micro-miniskirts. A parent, to raise a child with a childhood, has to pick and choose which shows are appropriate for that child, what music is...has to put the foot down and say, "You do not leave this house unless I know where, when, with who...and APPROVE of it and of what you wear."

    I agree that the law has conspired to make that job harder, but it's not impossible. You just have to want it...and you have to remember, from day ONE, that you are a parent and not your kids' best friend, open lines of communication or not.

    You have to set the rules, set in stone, from age one, because when that kid is 16 and taller than you are, he has to know you are still the boss. He's not going to know that, if you weren't the boss when he was four...or two.

    To this day, my friend's 17 y/o son listens to me better than her. Why? This 6'3" young man (compared to my 5'4" and his mother's 5'9") remembers that I was the no-nonsense one when he was four. I still am. All it took was one reminder that I don't stand for that, and he was back in line.

    Brenna

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  11. Brenna,

    Your post made me laugh. I too was the mother who always had rules, for anyone's kid who entered my house. My son hit 6'3" when he was 14 and I used to make him sit down when I lectured him. Dumb, maybe, but I just disliked feeling that short. LOL

    I totally agree with so much of what you've said, but it's still incredibly painful to sit by and watch a generation of children being neglected by, it seems, everyone. Parents have to hold down two jobs... a lot of which provides money for stuff the kids and they really don't need. There's just no time to treasure what is really important.

    Thanks so much for stopping in.

    Hugs

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  12. Laura,

    Yes, I agree, pretty much everyone is agreeing with my post and I've ranted enough on the topic. I really don't understand how parenthood got so messed up. How teaching children became such a matter of herding them all into their little boxes of sameness. It's incredibly sad and I hope it changes before my grandchildren suffer any more than they already have.

    Thank you so much for coming by and sharing your thoughts with us.

    Hugs

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  13. Jamie,

    I think I better apologize to you. I know you don't think 3 is a good time to get a child going to school. I was on a rant... no duh, right? I also know what you do for a living and I applaud you for the patience you must have to deal with both the kids, their parents and whatever government agency makes your rules.

    Hugs

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  14. Jude-
    I love that..."herding them all into their little boxes of sameness". So true! It's exactly what my husband have been saying for years...our kids are being turned into sheep (or lemmings if you like). I taught middle and high school and it really worried me some of the things I heard come out of those kids mouths...and they thought I was too old to have any idea what their cryptic references meant. LOL Seems they kept forgetting I had kids, too. I'm doing my best to keep up with all the ins and outs so I'll know what my kids are up to!

    And to tag on to the point you made that our kids childhoods are short (and precious)...that's why I quit teaching and have come home to teach my own kids. I think we were just so split with work...exhausted when we got home...it just wasn't fair to our children or to us! We want to remember all the cute things they do when they're small. It isn't going to happen twice!

    Laura

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  15. My son was in daycare from 4 months old. Not my choice but we needed both small paychecks.

    He was in what amounted to preschool simply by default but I would have taught him his letters by kindergarten, which I had to pay for because they only gave free 1/2 days but he needed full-day plus before and after-care. These cost about the same as my mortgage but there was no way I could stay home as a single mom. What this did allow us was a chance to see his current problems starting at a younger age (they wouldn't have been as easy to see at home). So, for him it was good.

    I feel the same about that as I do about the sex issues and the body image (boys get it too). We can't change things like that quickly (maybe for the next gen but not ours) so we have to make sure we teach them all we can and repeat it as often as we can and hope they pick up enough of it to protect them.

    Is it all too early? I'm sure it is but I'm sure that's what they said a century ago too. I would love for him to grow up when I did, the way I did but it had it's bad things too.

    In the long run it's up to the parents early on and up to the kids later. Teach them young, teach them well and hope you did it right.

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  16. I'm with Brenna. I have a 17 yr old son and a 13 yr old daughter. Jeans and T's for the son so that isn't an issue. I have to search out clothes for my daughter though. We have few restrictions on what they watch on TV but no TV in the bedrooms. That way if somethings is on that brings up a question, it's talked about with me.

    My son was in daycare until he was 5 when I became a Stay at home for a couple of years. I pulled him out of the first center because I didn't like the rules. The next one was wonderful.

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  17. What truly shocks me the most is the clothes these little girls wear. I see 6 year olds dressing like they are teens.

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  18. Whew! Jude, you've unleashed the flood!

    When I was a kid, my mother used to make me wear snow pants to school in the winter, bulky things that made my skirt stand out in a silly way and that were definitely rather old-fashioned (though nice and warm in the New England winter).

    I complained to her. "Mom," I said. "Nobody else wears snow pants!"

    "So what," she replied. "Do you want to be a sheep?"

    At the time I was annoyed, but now I am grateful for her wisdom. I had a wonderful childhood, partly because she and my father were strong-minded enough to resist social pressure (included pressure that I exerted!) and raise my siblings and me according to their own values. Our television time was limited; we were encouraged to read and play outside and build things; we spent quite a lot of time doing things together.

    Garce, I really resonate with your comment: ", I guess I'd say that what is needed is the depiction of sexuality in a valued way, not a shallow way," The message we get so often is that sexiness is about what you look like, not who you are or what you feel. It is just so ass-backwards (pardon my language)!

    Great post and tremendous comments!

    Warmly,
    Lisabet

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  19. When I was a kid (she types, knowing that's been typed so many times already in these comments), I think my parents had the middle ground that Brenna referred to earlier. I could read anything, and I do mean ANYTHING, I wanted. Didn't matter how violent or sexually explicit it was, comic book or magazine or book, I could read it. In fact, I was constantly stealing my dad's books to read, and he's the one who got me hooked on adult sci-fi and fantasy at the age of ten (and those books did have quite a bit of sex and violence in them, though not like the erotic romance novels of today). However...

    I had to do chores, I had to keep good grades, I had to work at a job, I had to behave, and I got punished if I screwed up. I can't really talk about the overly sexual clothes, since I never did wear whatever was in fashion, but I did get to wear a ton of makeup, which my mother never said a thing about. And I think I turned out okay.

    Although I'm sure there are some out there who will say that a woman who writes porn on a regular basis is really not okay. But if my kids grew up to be like me, I wouldn't mind.

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