Each time our children graduate from one stage to another (i.e. crawling - walking, preschool - school, highschool - graduation) we as parents are excited and a little sad as well. We want our children to grow up, but we reminisce about the "good old" days. I think those mixed feelings are normal for all of us. My question for you is - "Are your children growing up too fast emotionally and socially?" We can't stop their physical growth, but we can affect their emotional and social growth.
Our society is compressing childhood more and more to where children are not children for very long. We only have 18 years in our entire life to be children. We struggle as parents to keep our children innocent. Unfortunately, the events of September 11th stole away even more of our children's innocence.
Children are not little adults. Often, children dress like adults in miniature. Children want to emulate their teen or adult heroes in dress and talk. As parents we are fighting a raging river in keeping our children young and innocent. Society, schools, and parents are pushing children to grow up too fast.
Answer the following questions to see if your children are growing up too fast?
1. Do your children want to wear clothing that is designed for much older children?
2. Do your younger children want to watch TV shows designed for teenagers? Do your teenagers want to watch adult TV shows that contain sex and violence?
3. Are the books your children are reading age appropriate?
4. Are your children involved in so many extra-curricular activities they have no down time to just explore or goof off?
5. Are your children losing that wonderful "childish" sense of wonder about the world or do they know it all?
6. Do your find your children are growing increasingly inpatient and have to be entertained? Do they often say I'm bored?
7. Can you remember the last time you told your child you are not old enough to know about a certain topic and we will talk about it when you get older?
8. When was the last time you told your children, "No, you can't do that until you are older or that outfit is not acceptable to wear in our family?"
9. Do you monitor what music your children listen to, computer games they play, Internet sites they visit - are they age appropriate?
10. Do your children hang out with much older kids who are not a good influence?
Hopefully, these questions have caused you to stop and think about how quickly your children are growing up. Due to society's pressures you will have to make a concerted effort to keep your children innocent. There will be parent and child peer pressure to force your children to do things early. You may not be a popular parent when you say No to something "everyone else is doing." Parenting is not for the fainthearted or a popularity contest.
In closing, let me relate a recent example. I was watching a morning news show and they were discussing summer camps for kids. The guest said more and more kids are looking for computer and science camps, in order to improve their resumes for college. I found myself yelling at the TV - "Why can't you just enjoy camp, instead of it looking good on a resume. When did camp stop being fun and start being work?"
Remember the wise words of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:1 - "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." Childhood is a precious time and it is all ready much too short, keep your children innocent and protect their childhood.
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