After reflecting on my previous article, I continued to consider why today’s parents are so determined to hurry their children through childhood. What caused our obsession to make our kids grow up so quickly?
The ’50s and ’60s have been called the “Golden Age” for children. Parents saw their roles as protectors, and the responsibility was shared by the entire community. I remember that when I tried to check out the book “Anne Frank,” the librarian told me I would need my parents’ approval. She understood that the book contained some upsetting issues for an 11-year-old. Of course, I wanted to read it even more, but I also felt protected by the adults in my life.

In the ’80s, parents and society began to view children as an asset. If we put a lot into their childhood, they would pay us back with great success later in life. Parents now enroll their children in academically oriented preschools before they are born. Some children are involved in so many activities they need a social director to keep track of them all. Most troublesome to me, schools are pressured to advance children a grade or more in school or to red-shirt a 5-year-old from kindergarten for a year to ensure she is bigger and smarter than the other children are.

All of these are symptoms of a society striving to create superkids. But have we forgotten to consider what is best for the children? Given a choice, would they choose to have so many structured activities? Did you?

I fear we have lost sight of how children develop intellectually, socially, physically and emotionally. No matter how advanced or mature we would like them to be, their development is on an inner time clock that neither parents nor society can change. It cannot be hurried.

This is one my last articles for the year, and so I decided to end it with my wish list for our children:

We again embrace our responsibility to protect children from harmful influences.

We allow children to have ample time to play and explore free from the structure imposed by adults.

We quit rewarding children for obligations like homework and household chores.

We give up our agendas for what we would like our children to be and return that right to the kids.

It is the responsibility of us all to see to it that the next decade will once again be one in which our children truly have a childhood.

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