Too many times we hear the sad stories of child actors who have gone astray in adulthood, and too many times the cause is defined as that actor not been given the chance to live a typical childhood/being rushed into adulthood. But how often do us regular folk get to experience childhood as we should?
In the short 33 years I’ve been alive, I’ve witnessed a shift in children and teens’ attitudes towards life, respect, material things, sex, and their sense of self. I know of children younger than 10 years old who are on Facebook, have email addresses, cellular phones, designer clothes, etc. So many children are exposed to subject matter beyond their years, and then go off emulating these things in their day-to-day life.
My 7 year old niece told me a story recently of a fellow student she liked (in her words, “loved”) but encountered problems with another student/friend who once “dated” the same boy. This other girl and him stopped “dating,” and when she learned my niece liked this boy, she told the boy that my niece was saying bad things about him.
Did you catch all that? If you didn’t, don’t feel bad… instead wrap your head around the significance that a 7 year old child recounted all of this to me, and completely understood it. It’s insane that a child of that age should be on this level of behavior.
I don’t recall having concerns like that at her age. When I was 7, I only recall caring about Smurfs, coloring and drawing, my pets, collecting rocks, and how to keep my baby brother out of my toys. I didn’t care about getting a haircut like all the other girls in my school, wearing name-band tennis shoes so I could fit in, wearing tiny shorts, or having the latest technological gadget. I listened to Michael Jackson, not Lil Wayne or Lady Gaga. I watched movies like Ghostbusters and Footloose, not Twilight.
Just because our children are not being raised as celebrities does not make them immune to being robbed of a childhood. We need to ensure our kids experience the carefree nature of this part of life and don’t have to concern themselves with adult stresses. I believe part of how we can do this is to be a child again with them. Show them what it’s like to be in the moment and have no worries. Both child and adult win with this philosophy, for sometimes grown-ups need to touch base with that childlike essence of life.
What else can we do to allow our children be just that and not dive into adulthood prematurely? What can you do for yourself to experience the joys of youth again?