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Thread: Is childhood truly terrifying or just a culture of fear?

  1. #21
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    pinktoe, no harm done or meant. His life issues now I am hands off and do nothing not medical, money, appointments, bills, food. What I do give is a happy safe solid roof over his head. I live life now as if I die today, he needs to continue and he will do fine. Sometime it takes as huge event to change someone. Actually this week University of Michigan Depression Center gave him the best news of a life time that he is headed in the right direction so to say.

    So all is great and wonderful

  2. #22
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    I think it's more than kids -- as a culture we have become risk-averse.

    I was watching a video yesterday about the design and manufacture of a car I used to own back in the early 80s. More than once it showed doting parents taking their two toddlers to a picnic by loading them into the back of this hatchback -- unrestrained and surrounded by little more than the glass and metal of the car's body and the (metal) back of the back seat. Now, in the late 2010s, you see car-seat manufacturers and some parents' Web forums not-so-subtly push the idea that you're not a good (grand)parent unless you fork over $300-400 (or more) for a car seat. The $60 one isn't good enough (it is).

    When I was growing up, certainly there were kids approached by people with less-than-pure intentions (some of them even wearing religious garb, but no need to go further there). But it seemed about as random as winning a lottery. Kids were taught not to accept rides/candy/dog-petting from people they didn't know (this didn't always work; see parenthetical comment above) and we roamed around fairly freely. My biggest boundary was a busy street. But suddenly nonstop coverage of a couple of kids (out of millions in America) disappearing seemed to make everyone afraid that it could happen to every kid at any time. Don't get me wrong -- those events were tragedies. But the long-term effect of that were to make sure kids were monitored at all times and always in controlled situations. No more "be home by dark" or "call if you're later than curfew". Still the vast majority of us pre-cocoon grew up okay.

    Even adults get into the act, launching class-action suits for investments gone bad not out of malfeasance but out of incompetence or greed, or joining social groups out of a fear of not being labeled "appropriately", or taking over their kids' fights with school administrators or after-school sports coaches, or retreating from even the hearing of potentially-unpopular points of view at high schools or colleges.

    I find it interesting in when we enclose the bubble around kids (when we think people are watching) and when we don't. While our infants and toddlers are protected by the equivalent of a space capsule in our cars we have yet to put seat belts on school buses. And while we're making sure every treat they eat is wrapped commercially (no homegrown "don't-know-what's-in-there" snacks for our kids!) or feeding kids Pedialyte when they "don't wanna" eat what's served for dinner, we fail to lock up medicine chests and gun cabinets and smartphones, thinking, somehow, our kids will never find what's inside.

    I don't tie it to just the way we raise kids. But it certainly has had interesting results.
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

  3. #23
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    I think there have been some pretty strong fear reactions to school shootings too - understandably. That scenario would have never even entered our minds when I was growing up.

  4. #24
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkytoe View Post
    I think there have been some pretty strong fear reactions to school shootings too - understandably. That scenario would have never even entered our minds when I was growing up.
    Those, too. But I don't believe we'll see a change in that in our lifetimes.
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

  5. #25
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    October Sky, by Homer Hickman Jr., is a memoir about a boys pursuit of ametuer rocketry in a coal mining town in West Virginia. The movie, Rocket Boys was based on it. It's one of the closest reflections of what a joy being a child used to be. I actually grieve over what we've done to our kids. Maybe that's why I'm always reminiscing about my childhood.

  6. #26
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    You might have enjoyed my Dad's stories. As a boy, he and a friend set off a rocket that took out an electrical line to town. As a Dad, he was still interested in chemistry and rockets and showed us all kinds of things. Mom did not like it much since most was in our kitchen and dining room.

  7. #27
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    I think childhood is innately a time of great vulnerability. Some children are lucky and have supportive, healthy families and a confluence of good luck and fair skies. Others are not so lucky, and some children have terrible or no childhoods-- if you were a Jewish child born in Germany in 1933, your childhood was truly terrifying. (If you were a Lutheran child in Dresden watching your siblings melt from the Allied firebombings, your childhood was truly terrifying as well.)

    I think parents do the best they can, for the most part, and that varies too. I "do not grieve over what I've done to my kids"--I raised three boys the best I could, and they are functional adults (knock on wood) as much as I am a functional adult. I know of no parent who does not agonize over what they do--maybe that's the difference, but honestly, that beats the neglect that was endemic to the 50's and 60's. I loved wandering over the neighborhood as a child--but in that way was lucky most of the time, not so lucky some of the time. I did not want my children to have to be as unprotected as I was.

    They thought I was more protective than many parents when they were in high school in the 90's. They also told me they knew they were loved because I protected them, and felt that many parents were leaving their kids alone too much and the kids were drinking, drugging, etc.

    On the other hand, they all worked from the age of 16 and never got another penny of spending money from that point, moved out after high school and college, paid their bills, made their own way. So they seem to have turned out okay.

  8. #28
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    I do think that being consciously aware of being loved and valued by someone important in a child's life is the most valuable gift one can give a child.

    Clear rules and a clear understanding by both parent and child on street smarts and appropriate behaviour are absolutely essential. Many homes had/have troubled parents who conduct themselves in a troubling way so it is not the outside world alone that is the problem. This is and was an ongoing reality.
    What is bothering me is the loss of confidence in the goodness of our world creating such a fearful state in parents that hover over their kids teaching them the state of fearfulness that destroys them.
    When others' personal fearfulness can undermine the values that conscientious parents are taking great care to teach their children and triggering legal public interventions through police and child welfare authorities, that is morally, ethically and invasive beyond health for a society and our children. By all means, ensure that children are cared for and monitor situations that are of concern but what is happening is a call to welfare authorities based on observations that are interpreted by the lens of one's own fears and not the reality of the actual situation.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by razz View Post
    I do think that being consciously aware of being loved and valued by someone important in a child's life is the most valuable gift one can give a child.

    Clear rules and a clear understanding by both parent and child on street smarts and appropriate behaviour are absolutely essential. Many homes had/have troubled parents who conduct themselves in a troubling way so it is not the outside world alone that is the problem. This is and was an ongoing reality.
    What is bothering me is the loss of confidence in the goodness of our world creating such a fearful state in parents that hover over their kids teaching them the state of fearfulness that destroys them.
    When others' personal fearfulness can undermine the values that conscientious parents are taking great care to teach their children and triggering legal public interventions through police and child welfare authorities, that is morally, ethically and invasive beyond health for a society and our children. By all means, ensure that children are cared for and monitor situations that are of concern but what is happening is a call to welfare authorities based on observations that are interpreted by the lens of one's own fears and not the reality of the actual situation.
    You are so right that sometimes the problem comes from within the home itself, sometimes from the world at large. In either case, we must guard against over generalizing and acting on those generalizations.

    In the case that you mention of the bus, since I was not there, I don't know why the original intervenor called DCFS. It could have been the bus driver, it could have been a bystander. If the children were legally underage to ride the bus alone, then the parent broke the law. I think under those circumstances, it is inevitable than someone is going to call DCFS. Society gets together and puts the age restriction in place, and then if someone breaks that, then an investigation may come about, and they may or may not judge the parent neglectful.

    But I think it goes by the law, the age. And of course since we weren't there, we don't know the particulars, whether the children were not dressed for the weather, whether they had a phone to call in emergency, whether there was a kindly neighbor who also rode the bus at that time. etc.

    It so depends on the child, of course, how mature they are at any given age. To me, I would go by the law and the standards the community agreed upon.

    If someone reports something that is against the law, then I don't think they are imposing their own fears and values, I think they are attempting to protect the children. Let DCFS straighten it out.

    But that's just my opinion, of course, and I completely agree that "being consciously aware of being loved and valued. . . is the most valuable gift one can give a child."

  10. #30
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    I think the "lost confidence in the goodness of our world" is simply Americans excepting reality. After World War II Europe went through that stage and they still think of us as Pollyanna "everything is just fine" types. It's not reality.

    I was raised in that world where everything was just fine. It was quite an adjustment for me the last 10 years to accept the fact that the world really isn't a very nice place.

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