Be a Child

Children are children, or at least they should be. When I was young, children (by which I mean under the age of 13) were children – wholly innocent, no worries or cares (except for being back in time for tea and doing what my parents told me), no idea about 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. It seems though, in my experiences over the last 10 years that the age of innocence has gone.

Children are inclined nowadays, 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 make up and high heels! Children just seem to me to want to grow up. They don’t want to or don’t enjoy being children and are too impatient to wait to be teenagers. Somehow at the age of 7 or 8 (this happened with my ex’s son too) they stop wanting to be children and want to magically become 16! I am forever trying to say to our 3 children: “Enjoy it while you can, they are the best days of your life” – at risk of sounding like my mother, but God was she right!!! Even explaining that instead of school they will go to work, which isn’t half as much fun, the incoming bills, the hardships etc, but still they want to grow up.

What are we doing that is making our children dislike or be bored of being a child? Well, SATs start in schools at around the age of 7 or 8 – exams for children of 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 tables to excel in and therefore teachers push our children hard.

We are not strict parents, so it can’t be that. Maybe the more relaxed modern parenting techniques, mean that children see more and therefore understand more about grown up life and find it an exciting idea, so much so that they want to be a grown up. I have noticed though, that it is more the girls than the boys that are like this – we are told that males are always behind females in terms of maturity and therefore that could be the reason for the difference. (Our 4 year old is the way she is, because she idolises her sister and wants to be just like her).

So, what else contributes to our children’s development, especially in so far as girls are concerned? Is society making our children want to grow up TOO QUICKLY? It could be – I have noticed the adverts on children’s TV are showing children of 7 or 8 doing things that we would have not done until the age of 12 or 13. There are scooters aimed at this age range (7-8 year olds) with make up trays in them. Media also has a part to play. Things aimed at boys are generally less mature than those aimed at same age girls – take for example movies; High School Musical, Camp Rock, Hannah Montana, all seemingly aimed at teenagers. Due to this problem, however, these movies are missing their target as they are seemingly too young for the modern teenage girl. They are therefore appealing to the younger children (especially girls) in the 7 to 8 age range, and these films cover relationships and issues based around high school life. The films are exciting and fun, and therefore make being older more appealing, on top of this our children attempt to mimic what they see on screen, such as the dancing and singing, the attitudes and even the accents!

With our 7 year old, she has already begun coming home from school and telling us who her boyfriends are, and who she has been kissing at school – it’s good that she is open about it and feels comfortable discussing it, but for my wife and I it’s scary. My wife has had talks about things with her about 4 years prior to when you would expect to be having these discussions. She has asked a few times for a bra (!) and she is 7 and of a very slender build. The other thing I have noticed – and I know all girls want to be like their mother – is that she has a matriarchal streak that has developed, and can frequently be heard trying to be the grown up with our other two children – talking in very grown up tones, and saying the kind of things that she’s heard my wife and I say.

It is scary to think that the age of innocence for our children is disappearing, and such a shame. I remember the days of childhood, playing innocent games without a care in the world. Our children are growing up so fast these days, we need to exercise conscious parenting to try and slow it down. If boys stay at their current development rate, and the development rate of girls continues to increase, we will be having age gap relationships in children – instead of there being a 2 year gap between most couples (as was always the case back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s) there will be a 4-5 year gap (maybe more) between most couples come the 2020’s when our children mature and begin to settle down. That’s a doubling / tripling in the development of girl’s maturity in just 50 years – if that continues, come 2070 we will be seeing our 16 year old’s first boyfriend being 26-30 years of age as the norm.

These are not statistics, just my musings, but none the less a real scary thought. So please parent consciously and try to avoid our children growing up too fast – keep toys and media exposure as close to innocence as possible and that way we can maybe slow the rapid development of our child’s maturity and stop my predictions becoming a reality, thus saving the innocence of childhood.

Source by Dale Preece-Kelly