Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Childhood of the Past Was Not Perfect

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For some reason, I get really bothered by the frequent harping on the way people parent today--especially when it is accompanied by how awesome it was when we were children ourselves. The parents of today apparently, according to the critics, had a perfect childhood, and yet we are running around doing most things in an opposite direction and completely failing as parents. I am sure you have seen many of the posts that get shared around social media about how perfect the childhood of yore was and how we have just completely messed up childhood today. 

Don't get me wrong, I recognize that some things that are happening as a general trend these days are not really best for children. Don't even get me started on "everyone gets a trophy." But that doesn't mean that our own personal childhoods were perfection. After all, the very people who were raised in this "perfect" childhood are the ones who are now parenting in an extremely different manner. The childhoods we (we used in broad general terms) had obviously were not perfect enough to turn us into perfect parents. If we really loved it so much, why aren't we doing things the same way? So maybe it wasn't perfect after all. 

The world has changed, even if a good part of that change is really just our perception and knowledge of the world. Is the world more dangerous today than it was back in the apparent "glory days" of our youth? Statistics seem to say no--crime really isn't worse. What is more rampant is our ability to attain information. We know about a lot more of the scary things happening because we have global access to news 24 hours a day. 

I remember back in the days when childhood was supposedly perfect seeing crying mothers on talk shows like Oprah. They would share their horror story of the sad thing that happened to their child and proclaim that if by sharing the story it saves one child's life, it was worth the effort. We don't need talk shows anymore to tell us about those 1 in 500,000 chance events. We can get them on the Internet. Do you think that maybe some of the moms 30 years ago who had death meet their young children because of something they didn't know about might wish they had access like we have today?

I am not a parent who tries to wrap my children up in a bubble. I think we have to take what we know to be risks in life in order to actually be able to live life. We can't possibly protect our children from everything, but that doesn't mean we can't and shouldn't take reasonable measures to protect our children from the things we can. 

My newsflash is this. If our lives were so perfect growing up, we would be actively duplicating them for our children now. 

People by nature want to improve life for their offspring. Every generation has done it, and every generation will continue to do it. 

Now, like I said, I have no delusions that lead me to believe we are the perfect parents today. I am sure our own children will change much about their parenting styles that will reflect the world they live in and things they would want to change if they could. 

We can honestly assess any shortcomings we are facing as a society without trying to throw us back to the lifestyles lived 30ish years ago. We live now. Glorifying the past will not help us accurately assess the present. Let's be real--looking back on our era childhood and claiming it was perfection is like looking back on pregnancy and only remembering the good moments. As humans, we forget much of the difficulty. We can't change it to what it was, so rather, let's try to change it to what it could be. 

Just as our parents before us, we do what we do as parents because we love our children and want them to have the best life possible. And while some things were probably better in our childhoods, there is plenty that is better now. Let's keep the things that are better and try to improve the things that are declining. Let's improve the now rather than spend our time lamenting what was. 

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