be a child
Kids are kids, or at least they should be. When I was young, kids (I mean under 13) were kids: totally innocent, no worries or worries (except for coming back in time for tea and doing what my parents told me), no idea what I wanted to do or what the world was like, happily playing cops and robbers or making rose perfume with my friends and my dad’s roses. However, it seems, in my experiences over the last 10 years, that the age of innocence is gone.
Children today tend to be worldly wise and old before their time. They want mobile phones and social media accounts at the age of 7, they (our daughters – 7 and 4) want to wear makeup and high heels. It seems to me that children want to grow up. They don’t want or enjoy being children and are too impatient to wait until they are teenagers. Somehow at the age of 7 or 8 (this also happened with my ex’s son) they stop wanting to be children and want to magically become 16! I’m always trying to tell our 3 kids: “Enjoy it while you can, these are the best days of your life” – at the risk of sounding like my mother, but God was right! Even explaining that instead of going to school they will go to work which isn’t half as much fun, bills coming in, hardship etc but they still want to grow up.
What are we doing so that our children do not like or get bored of being children? Well, the SATs start in schools around age 7 or 8; exams for children that age are ridiculous. We all know that exams are not fun and that they put a lot of pressure on people. Schools have performance charts to excel, and therefore teachers put a lot of pressure on our kids.
We’re not strict parents, so it can’t be that. Perhaps more relaxed modern parenting techniques mean that children see more and therefore understand more about adult life and find it an exciting idea, so much so that they want to be adults. However, I have noticed that it is more girls than boys who are like this – we are told that men are always behind women in terms of maturity and so that could be the reason for the difference. (Our 4-year-old is the way she is because she idolizes her sister and wants to be like her.)
So what else contributes to the development of our children, especially when it comes to girls? Is society making our children want to grow up TOO FAST? It could be – I’ve noticed that commercials on children’s television show 7 or 8 year olds doing things that we wouldn’t have done until we were 12 or 13 years old. There are scooters geared towards this age range (7-8 years old) with makeup trays on them. Media also has a part to play. Things aimed at boys are generally less mature than things aimed at girls of the same age; for example, movies; High School Musical, Camp Rock, Hannah Montana, all seemingly aimed at teenagers. However, due to this problem, these films fall short as they are apparently too young for the modern teenage girl. Therefore, they appeal to younger children (especially girls) in the 7-8 year old age range, and these movies cover relationships and issues related to high school life. Movies are exciting and fun and thus make being older more appealing. In addition, our children try to imitate what they see on the screen, such as dancing and singing, attitudes, and even accents.
With our 7-year-old daughter, she’s already started coming home from school and telling us who her boyfriends are and who she’s been kissing at school; it’s nice that she’s open about it and she’s comfortable discussing it, but for me and my wife it’s scary. My wife has had conversations about things with her for about 4 years before when I would expect to have these conversations. She has asked for a bra several times (!) And she is 7 years old and she is very skinny. The other thing I’ve noticed, and I know all girls want to be like their mother, is that she has a matriarchal streak that has developed, and you can often hear her trying to be the adult with our other two children, talking in very grown-up tones, and saying the kinds of things you’ve heard my wife and me say.
It’s scary to think that our children’s age of innocence is fading away, and it’s a shame. I remember childhood days, playing innocent games without a care in the world. Our kids are growing up so fast these days that we need to exercise mindful parenting to try to slow it down. If boys stay at their current rate of development, and girls’ rate of development continues to increase, we will have age-gap relationships for boys, rather than a 2-year gap between most couples ( as was always the case in the 1960s). , 70’s and 80’s) there will be a 4-5 year gap (maybe more) between most couples in 2020 when our children mature and start to settle down. That’s a doubling/tripling in the developmental maturity of girls in just 50 years; if that continues, in 2070 we will see our 16-year-old daughter’s first boyfriend be 26-30 years old as the norm.
These are not statistics, just my musings, but a truly scary thought nonetheless. So please be a conscientious parent and try to prevent our children from growing up too fast: keep toys and media exposure as close to innocence as possible and that way we may be able to slow down the rapid development of innocence. maturity of our son and prevent my predictions from coming true, thus saving the innocence of childhood.