Have you ever gone through your home, office, garage, store rooms and considered how many things are marked with some version of: Keep Out of the reach of Children.
I just noticed such a warning on a new bag of potting soil. I’ve seen countless others on things I’d never dream of giving to children, and thousands of things children might well use every day, or even once in a while. I don’t have any children around now, so I don’t usually pay much attention to such warnings, but a recent conversation in comments here brought the issue to the front. So, I have a few questions.
Are “children” a homogeneous tribe with identical (or even greatly similar) attributes and vulnerability? That is simply not true, of course. Is chronological age an absolute measure of intelligence and ability to deal with the vast variation of challenges and dangers in this world? Not at all true either, though too many people seem to accept that and refuse to consider the more complex alternatives.
So, who are these “children,” and why should there be any universal prohibitions on their use and handling of so many things? None of us would simply hand a razor blade to ANY person we thought might harm themselves or others with it… so their chronological age is just one of the considerations.
I’ve always wondered why young people are generally treated as infants, in “school” and in most “legal” matters especially, considered incapable of independent thought or making decisions… and then, with the stroke of midnight on some magic date, they are suddenly “adults” and expected to be responsible for themselves…( sorta, kinda… and getting worse every day). And the magic date changes from one thing to another, so that an 18 year old male can be inducted into the army, or a 14 year old can (in some places) consent to marriage or sex – but neither one can legally buy a gun of their own or do a lot of other things. It is arbitrary and gives little or no consideration to their level of maturity or ability to provide for themselves otherwise.
And then we come to another serious question. Who is responsible for these children, of any age? The rational and proven answer is that parents and families are responsible for safeguarding their children from danger, supervising their learning while giving them measured responsibility for themselves as they mature and prove their abilities.
Having successfully raised two sons, now self governors and with children of their own, I offer the following brief outline of how to rationally protect children, and help them mature to true adult status.
Be there, with them and for them. Day care, constant baby sitters or electronic devices, can never replace hands on nurturing by parents. A child who is left crying in his crib, or sees the day care workers (or even grandma) more than his mother and father, often grow up to have abandonment issues, and a great deal more. This is a huge issue, and can’t be adequately dealt with here, but is worth some real thought. And the one parent problem is a vast subject for another time.
Human beings, especially when young, are geared to learn from their environment and the people who surround them. They learn responsibility by observing responsible adults and being given responsibilities, for one thing. This starts very early, and a parent who understands this, supervising and encouraging the child, is preparing them well for the future.
My eldest son – at the age of eight – was completely responsible for feeding the chickens, collecting the eggs, and most of the other chores connected with providing eggs for our own use, and for sale to the neighbors. He started as a two year old, holding my hand in one of his, and a single egg in the other as we returned from the chicken coop. Yes, he dropped a few. He cleaned them up or cried when the dog ate them. But he learned fast and was soon carrying the basket for the eggs and sternly telling the dogs to get down. He took his “job,” a real contribution to the welfare of the family, very seriously, and generally had fun doing so. The boys also had plenty of time to run, play and exercise, of course. We didn’t have a television or cell phones, computers or such. Not that these are bad things, but they can’t replace real parenting and hands on life experience.
Do everything possible to demonstrate rational, mature and self responsible behavior, words and deeds. Not just when children are present, of course, but throughout your life and relationships with others. Children see and understand far more of that than you probably believe, and they model themselves after what you do far more than anything you simply preach at them.
But things are far worse for those children in the long run if they live with such hypocrisy. They naturally love their parents, so denial of the cognitive dissonance becomes part of them, usually making them unable or at least unwilling to accept that such dichotomy is both wrong and unhealthy. So, they grow up confused and unable to recognize such as an unhealthy state of mind, the basis for much of the “mental health” issues today. A great many psychiatrists and others try to help such people, but there is little hope for most of these seriously abused children to learn rational ways of thinking.
If you don’t believe it, take a good long look at the criminal “justice” system (especially the juvenile portion), the “foster care” and CPS insanity, and the horror that is government indoctrination “school” now consuming the lives and character of so many “children” of all ages.
Your comments and criticisms are very welcome!