Adults should grow up about kids
By Susie O'Brien
March 27, 2008 10:30am
A new study says we're letting our kids grow up too fast and now our 11-year-olds are getting their ears pierced and dying their hair.
And our 16-year-olds are having sex and watching adult movies.
But just a few months ago parents were copping it for letting their kids stay at home too long and making lunch for 20-something layabouts. I think it's about time we give parents a break.
Kids are always going to be wanting to be older than they are, and mimicking adult behaviour is a legitimate part of being a child.
I have to admit that as a parent I am not that excited about my daughter looking like a real-life Bratz doll and wearing high heels before she even hits high school.
But it's not really the end of the world, and I am sure I will win as many fights as I lose on this issue with my gorgeous, feisty girl as she grows up. What matters more to me is whether she's happy, well-adjusted, has good self-esteem, and is doing well at school.
And herein lies the problem.
Children are just being judged by what they wear and watch, and not what kind of kids they really are.
Most parents have enough to worry about with rising interest rates and sky-high grocery bills, and don't need to get grief about letting their 16-year-old stay the night at a boyfriend or girlfriend's house.
People generally don't make such decisions lightly - and parents should be given credit for doing what they think is best in what is often difficult circumstances.
At least they know their kids won't be roaming the streets with strangers.
In any case, does it really matter if 12-year -old girls are wearing earrings and a bit of make-up?
Most of them probably sneak it on and have to scrub it off before they leave the house.
The British study - done to promote a new book - also breathlessly announced that three-quarters of teens have scant regard for authority and often rebel.
But isn't that what teens have been doing since the 1950s?
What really bothers me about this false hysteria is that it's based on a totally bogus notion of childhood.
I am sick of the Country Road catalogue vision of the perfect childhood of the past, which the corrupted kids and parents of today just aren't able to live up to.
Surely the values kids and parents adhere to are more important than whether kids spend Saturday floating sticks in the stream or playing tennis on the Wii?
And rather than blaming technology, as all the experts seem to do, we should be accepting that it's an inescapable part of the modern world our kids are growing up in.
Like most parents I spend a lot of time trying to give my kids a memorable, loving childhood like my own.
When I was growing up we didn't have videos or computers or iPods or Xboxes, and my early days were filled with days waiting for a turn on the trampoline, wishing for a Barbie and fighting with my sister over the Lego.
But although my kids do use and enjoy technology, their childhood experiences are similar to my own - except now their trampoline has a safety net, Barbie has a briefcase as well as boobs, and Lego bricks cost more than the real thing.
My kids watch too much TV, use mobile phones and occasionally watch a movie that isn't rated G, but it doesn't mean they're mini-adults.
It's about time the older generation - which seem to spend a lot of time judging others - just grows up.