The Stolen Childhood (part 1)
Today most children in western society have all their needs, in material terms, met; and there is no longer malnutrition as there was in the past. Wrong nutrition probably continues. However they are suffering a new kind of deprivation, one that is part spiritual, part emotional and worst of all they are being gradually deprived of an actual childhood.
A generation or two ago most children grew up with “stay at home” mums and often within an extended family, so they were among people with strong emotional ties. Also before the age of the screen there was considerable interaction between members of the family and children. There would be nursery rhymes; songs and other activities the children could participate in with adults. Another fact: there were more children around so not only had they siblings to play with, but their neighbours’ pals. I am not saying it was totally idyllic; poverty and deprivation were often rampant and children’s health often poor. But on the positive side they were with people and other children within a community and a family. They also importantly learnt how to interact with others and develop emotional responses. Most importantly they learnt how to communicate and the ability at a very young age to react to people of greatly varying ages. The electronic age has seriously jeopardised these communication skills.
Another important factor we have lost in our society is discipline. This is enormously important to children because it gave them a strong sense of security. Nowadays with the child centred philosophy in education and in the home there has been a decline in discipline. We of course don’t want to return to the harsh draconian implementation of discipline via corporal punishment or other unpleasant methods, but we do want to sanction unacceptable behaviour, which unfortunately is rife at home and in schools today. The chaos we find nowadays especially in schools is not only damaging to the child’s academic progress but also, more important, a child’s emotional development. Childhood has become more insecure which in turn will create more insecure adults.
Today we find ourselves in a society where children have become the victims of adults because those adults themselves never developed during their childhood. This manifests itself in their selfishness and the constant urge for self-gratification in today’s parents. They also treat children often very much as a child treats a doll; it becomes a possession, something that is an extension of their own vanity. Then through a sense of guilt they make every attempt to compensate the child with a myriad of material possessions. They again fail to understand the child’s real needs, so the cycle continues.
Many of these problems would be considerably helped if there was a return to religion, namely Christianity. However destructive modern life is to a child, Christianity provides a solution. It will also allow our children to join a community with values. It will also be the antidote for the pressure poured out by every section of the media for a hedonistic and totally selfish lifestyle, which destroys children and their childhood. Such hedonism stops parents enjoying the actual joy of bringing up children!As a final thought we should stop forever using the TV or computer as an electronic baby sitter; we are losing the joy of interaction with our child and the child is being deprived.