A NATION OF LOST CHILDHOOD: Part 2 of “When The Village Rocks The Cradle.”
When our daughter was in elementary school, a lot of the little girls were bringing their dolls to school and playing with them during recess. Their teacher told them they were too big to play with dolls and to not bring them to school any more. We didn’t make an issue of it, but my daughter and I and some of the other parents and children laughed about her ideas. I wondered though, why they were too big to play dolls and not too big to play secretary, teacher or nurses.
This was back in the middle 60’s but it shows that prejudice was rampant even then against a career as a mother and homemaker. Parents however, do not have to allow this intervention by the “Village” to interfere with the rearing of their children. We handled it in a way that made it of no consequence.
I wonder though how much a part it plays in our nation’s children in growing up too fast, and not getting to live their childhood. Parent who let their little first graders wear heels and makeup and revealing clothing and dress like many teens do, and like teens shouldn’t…are just simply asking for trouble. When they get to be teenagers and even beyond, what is left for them to experience that isn’t already ‘old hat’….it makes me shiver to think!
Too many little girls are pushed into adult situations before they are ready for the responsibility. Some of them who still should be ‘playing’ with dolls have the responsibility of a real one before they are hardly aware of it.
Another thing that happened not long after those years, is the kindergarten building was used to make room for the head start group and the kindergarten children moved to the elementary building and the sixth graders were moved up to the highschool building. Damaging? Maybe not, but it seems to me that peer pressure would be even more prevalent and kids are being pushed into the grownup world all too soon and this is representative of a nation that does not nurture its young. We are reaping the results of that in more ways than we can count. I believe a nation can be judged accurately by the way it nurtures its young and respects its old.
Just recently a school in our state held a talent show to raise money for a project. The parents of some of the students were directing the affair and the ages of those participating were from head start through high school. Some of the acts were songs that the young children were pantomining. The songs were of the sort that I would not want my children to listen to even when they were in their teens. Those little children probably did not even know what the lyrics meant, but I wondered about the parents who allowed it. There are so many decent songs they could have used. Some parents, I am convinced, either do not care…or they are just un-enlightened about how to influence their little ones for good.
In the early 1900’s when families began to move away from farms into the urban areas, the boys’ and girls’ clubs were organized to give the young ones something to do to occupy their time. In some aspects this may have been a good thing, since the parents were busy with jobs that did not include the children any more. However in many cases, they simply replaced family time, thus they were not involved in ‘family life’ as much, as they were in the rural residences. The ‘village’ can be harmful as well as helpful if the parents permit it.
Many people say they do not know how to fix it, but it has been suggested by some conscientious statesmen in our nation’s capitol that our nation be re-educated concerning morals and parental responsibility instead of leaving everything to the ‘village’ or to the government agencies regarding our family and its personal responsibility. This sounds good to me and I feel it is the only way we can rear our children in this great nation to nurture its young and respect its old.
©Edna L. Ingram