Are We Failing Our Children? (Part 1)

By | January 9, 2013

I didn’t find out about the shooting in Connecticut until late afternoon that Friday. It was one of those busy writing and child-attending days when you cannot wedge a second of anything else in. Also, I try to avoid excessive use of “news of the day” because I find the tone alarming and often unnecessarily so. This time is was alarming but real and beyond saddening.

I read and it touched me deeply. It didn’t make sense. It still doesn’t. Sasha is six years old and all those children were six too… I had trouble looking at his hands and face and chest without cringing with pain. How could someone…? It could not make sense and I do not expect it ever will. My heart goes out to anyone in any part of the world that has to go through that. There is no right way to say it and then again, saying it without learning from it is a capital sin.

Where to go from there? I know I have to make the best of every day and guide my children to do the same. I also have to protect them. From anything that could hurt them that is. That is by far the most daunting task I have ever faced with my sons. I have questions but no answers yet. And I do not mean at all protection against people with guns.

The aftermath of the shooting prompted discussions about how to keep our children safe. Physical safety was mostly discussed. More children know about stranger danger and sexual predators than ever before, and more and more understand that guns can kill so they should stay away from them. Some of the dangers are brought forward you’ll say. True, but that’s barely scratching the surface. Warned as they are about what’s lurking in the unknown of the world, our children are exposed to a lot more than we can possibly understand and review before hand. From the moment they wake up to the time they go to bed, they are immersed in a world that is as beautiful and exciting as it is dangerous.

Not playing queen of doom at all, just being realistic. Here are a few of the things that trouble me:

  • The world of internet is open to every child that is capable of handling a device with buttons or touch screen. Exploration of everything they want to explore is right there. If they want to that is, and they do. Their minds are green still, but they are privy to information that could and does affect them in ways we cannot yet fully understand. It is remarkable to see young minds mastering computer skills early in life, but is there a trade of some sort that we are not aware of and might regret later? I hope not. I fear the opposite.
  • Girls grade four and older wear make up (at school and in other circles) and clothes that should not be worn by children their age. Marketing campaigns targeting children treat them like they are already teenagers or young adults offering them lines of clothing and make-up that a few decades ago were regarded as inappropriate. Yet we have come to see it as normal or at least of keeping up with the times. It’s not. It is not prudishness that dictates we should be worried, but common sense. We are losing a battle we had not idea when and how it started. Insidiousness is its main assault weapon.
  • We see children get lost in a world of social media and while we can’t really grasp its ways completely, something tells us we should hang on to our children before they give in to the lure of “perfect” online friendships and scenarios that do not mirror real life in the least. But children are growing up in different times and they are fully immersed in it, there is no consensus among adults whether social media is a blessing or a curse. Are we losing our children to social media? Would boundaries make it better? What kind of boundaries and who will reinforce them when children are not at home? When internet accessibility outside the home is as obvious as the presence of the very air we breathe, do parents have much to say?

There is an odd feeling of losing our footing when it comes to many aspects of raising our children and we’re not sure whether we should try harder or how to go at it. Innocence lost too soon was the cry of many a generation, but every now and then I fear we are witnessing the approach of the last frontier by our children: Access to things and knowledge that are beyond their understanding (ours too) and beyond our means to protect them.

The impact of the shooting is Connecticut was a strong one for me: Parents there lost their very young children suddenly and unfairly. Their consolation, if any, is that there was nothing they could do at that moment to save them.

What’s going to be ours, should we need one down the road?…

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4 thoughts on “Are We Failing Our Children? (Part 1)

  1. Béla Kiss

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll have to suggest that you check out Neil Postman’s book, ‘The Disappearance of Childhood’ which touches on these topics. It talks about how our conceptions of childhood have changed through the ages and how they continue to evolve – in not necessarily good ways.

    Here’s a short description of it on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Postman#The_Disappearance_of_Childhood

    I like the quote that was pulled for the final sentence in the article:

    “Resistance entails conceiving of parenting as an act of rebellion against American culture”

    Reply
    1. Daniela Ginta Post author

      I am amusing myself to death at the moment with Postman’s vision on media :-). Will add “The Disappearance Of Childhood” to my list. And I agree, common sense parenting seems to go against the American culture, the North American culture to be precise. It’s a bit disorienting at times, but I am not ready to set for a major fail yet either…

      Reply

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