Somebody Think of the Children!

I wanted to chime in on the months-old internet debate about which current practices we will one day condemn. My answer is our relative disregard for the development of our children. I think what will truly surprise future generations are not specific practices (such as the fact that not all children had health insurance until 2009), but our general disregard for nurturing our youth and ensuring that they develop into functioning adults.

Right now, society’s standard method of raising children is throwing them into a school building for eight hours a day and filling their heads with academic information.  We do this in order to satisfy the interests of various powerful adults. Then when kids get home from school, most parents leave them alone to play video games, happy with the assumption that school is teaching them everything they need to know.  This hands-off, adult-centered approach completely ignores a child’s  social and emotional development — the types of development which will actually affect their future happiness and contributions to to the world.

Being a child is one of the hardest things a person ever has to do. With so little life experience to draw on, events are often interpreted in incorrect ways. Remember how when you were a kid and you got into a fight with your sibling, for the next few hours you legitimately believed that they hated you, despised you, and wouldn’t care if you were dead. An adult would never draw those conclusions from a fight because their life experience has taught them that fights are fleeting moments.  We should be doing more to help children progress from a child’s view of the world to an adult’s view.

Our species would be better off if parents and policy-makers spent a little more time watching the Discovery Channel. Mammal parents stay with their children nonstop when they are developing and all they have to do is teach their young how to hunt, avoid being hunted, find shelter, and engage in simple social interactions. The life of a human is infinitely more complicated than that of a leopard. When society does eventually realize this, we will be appalled by the way we shirked out duty to educate our children about life.

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