Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Difficult Being a Child Today?

Is it more difficult being a child now than it was when we were children? Are there more pressures, less innocence, and no time to be kids? I am bleeding from the heart for my eight-year-old son who is in third grade. He is a very good boy, tries hard, and is really quite smart, but he is not a fast worker. He is working on grade level, understands his assignments, and is overall a happy child, but it takes him an inordinate amount of time to do his homework. He walks off the bus at 3:00pm and is usually not finished with his homework for a solid hour or more later. This doesn’t include a relaxing snack or a half hour to unwind; this is unloading and beginning homework immediately and working straight through until he’s finished. This is not about blasting his teacher, who I adore and think is wonderful, nor the school, it’s just a matter of the issue of whether our children are missing out on childhood.

Every generation can look back with rosy glasses and reminisce about the good ol’ days. I am not one of those people as a rule, but I do look at all my children have in their lives and I find it overwhelming. From twenty-four hour cable news to social media, from cell phones and texting to Disney stars going down the wrong paths in public forums, children are losing their innocence far too soon. Pre-school clothes are indecent, boys’ clothes are offensive, and adult clothes are laughable. Appropriateness is missing.

The litigious society in which we live is restricting my children’s playtime. With the reasoning “no recess today because the wood chips are slick from the rain” my son’s school kept the children inside again earlier this week. Add that to the list of “too snowy” “too rainy” and “too windy/cold” and my son’s school hasn’t had many outdoor recess days in the last four months. Physical education is either one or two days per week depending on schedules, so there is little activity for my son. For those of you with children, and boys specifically, it is nearly torture to sit in a classroom all day long, come home and sit for more time to do homework. Children need to be active; it clears their head, gets the blood pumping, and is part of their nature. We spotlight obesity and Type II Diabetes in our society, yet my child is not getting nearly enough physical activity during his school day. We supplement with two nights of Karate and one weekend morning of swim class, which my son adores, but he could truly benefit from more activity during his school day.

Sexual scandals, drug problems, a television star who is #winning with #tigerblood while, in reality, his life and health are deteriorating at a rapid rate, are the stories circulating in the world. Even the horrific scenes of the recent earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan are far too disturbing for my eight-year-old to handle. It seems that everywhere one turns there is a crisis, a natural disaster, a person who is self-destructing and an audience profiting and watching with great interest, and no way to shield oneself from these constant images.

I refuse to give into the negativity and hopelessness. My goal with Chief 187 Chatter as well as a parent is to concentrate on all that is positive. What he is too young to handle I shield him from, but I do use other stories and incidents as teaching tools. He’s not too young to learn that drugs and alcohol are harmful to him at a young age and drugs are never a solution. I teach him about self-respect, respect of authority, and what real #winning is all about. We model by example the necessity of a strong body in tandem with a strong mind. We preach hard work through our own work ethic. We show compassion, live with discipline, and encourage through tough times. And, when it seems like there is only “work”, we bust out the fun, the silly, and the relaxing. Society may be trying to rob my children of their childhood, but I will not allow it.

Do you think it is more difficult to be a child now than when you were a child? Do you find the sources of information, the influences, and the dangers lurking are robbing the children of today of their innocence far earlier than when we were children? Weigh in with your opinions of then versus now.


  1. I'm not a "back in the day" kinda person either, Chief. We had no A/C, we drank out of a hose on hot summer days and had lots of idle time on our hands. That gave me the time to dedicate myself to musical disciplines on one hand, but it also gave me ample time to do things I shouldn't - skip school, smoke dope and whatnot. And my folks had no idea because there weren't the technological tools for them to use to keep track of me like we as parents have today - Cell phones, online grading monitors from schools, etc.

    I once skipped a class in high school 20 straight days and they had no idea. Today, I know exactly what my kid worked on each day, what grade he got and what kind of homework he has to do.

    Mine are a bit older - 17 and 12. They do well in and out of school. My oldest is ranked #5 in his class of 650+ in a large public high school here. They both make good choices in friends. I have found that while there are things from the outside that are outrageous and often times inappropriate, shielding them from these modern realities is both impossible and impractical. Do I like that they watch Family Guy? No, but they're going to watch it anyway, if not here some place else behind my back. They're kids afterall. The main thing is to know what they're into, provide a framework that quantifies good and bad behavior and continuously help them to connect the dots. And never accept "Nothin' much" when you ask them what's going on.

    This society isn't changing back to a less media-driven, kindly place anytime soon. Let them play with Legos and HotWheels as long as possible, but realize that shielding them from this outside world in the long term is only going to leave them ill-equipped to deal with its dynamic nature when they're older.


  2. I posted my comment under Tuesdays Blog.... I guess computers make it difficult for some of us to be adults!