By Candy Clarke
No, this isn’t an attack on parents or the school system. It is simply a question loaded with a great deal of concern and based on years of personal observation. As adults, whether or not we are biological parents, we need to ask ourselves some serious questions.
In addition to a child being described as being human offspring from human parents; the dictionary also defines a child as “somebody under a legally specified age who is considered not to be legally responsible for his or her actions.” Further definition explains a child is “an immature adult: an adult who is regarded as behaving in a childish or inappropriately childlike way.” A much shorter definition is given for the word, adult. An adult is defined as “fully grown life form; somebody who has reached the legal majority, generally 18 years of age in the United States.”
So, culturally and legally, we accept there is a vast difference between children and adults.
Why, then, are we so quick to accept the behavior of immature adults? Why are we so quick to try and make children exchange their childhood years for being “ a little adult?” These are just a few of the questions I have regarding our culture’s treatment of children.
Children, whether biologically birthed by us, or surrogated to us as a member of our community, are a gift to all. As with most gifts, some are treasured by the recipient and some are perhaps, appreciated, but not so treasured. Why the difference? Who knows; maybe it is as simple as the adage “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” If that is the case, I invite everyone to use their individual sight ability (both physically and mentally) and take another look. The children we see today will be our leaders twenty to forty years from now. With that thought in mind, another look should give one an entirely different perspective.
From the time a child is born, they learn by watching others within their environment. This observation process of learning crosses all biological, economical and societal barriers. What are we teaching our children by our examples? What are we passively allowing others to teach our children?
Certainly, we can all be more cognizant of our personal behavior, but what about other individuals? Hopefully, we all start to teach right from wrong to our children by setting good examples. However, every time we interact with society, other influences have an opportunity to confuse a child. We can tell children it is wrong to steal, but it’s much harder to explain why Mr. X, our friendly neighbor down the street, is stealing from the local merchants. We can tell them it’s wrong to lie, but when they hear lying from others, or on television; it’s much harder to explain why these things happen. If it’s difficult for well meaning adults to explain; how, then, do we expect a child not to be confused by conflicting behaviors? Watching the commercials on television, by themselves, is enough to cause confusion.
The wise author of one of my favorite poems is unknown; however, the sentiments remain as strong today as when the poem was first penned. It’s titled simply Children. “I believe in Children… There is faith in their eyes. Love in their touch and hope in their attitude. I thrill with them at life’s joys, run with them through tall grasses, and bow with them in worship. They are the fragile dreams of yesterday, life’s radiant reality today and vibrant thread of tomorrow. Yes, I believe in children.”