Today’s Kids


Gone are the days of silent children standing still in a line at school. They no longer blindly accept just any order from adults. They have opinions and a voice. I often hear parents, or grandparents, or the gentleman at the grocery store complaining that kids today aren’t the same. Back in their day, kids did what they were told without question.

It’s not that children have changed. Society has changed, and frankly, that is a very good thing. Growing up, my house was silent. My father believed that children should not be heard and we tiptoed around silently until he would leave. Then everyone, kids and mother included, would run around to practice piano or listen to some music. My mother refused to tell anyone, especially my father, for whom she voted because she remembered a time when a woman’s vote was controlled by her husband. My grandmother rarely voted because that was a man’s job. Other families recall stories of not being able to ride at the front of the bus or drink from the same water fountains or pursue the same jobs or education. Abuse from those in control was accepted and not spoken of.

The “good old days” were only good for those who held the control. Children were subservient because subservience was modeled. Wives deferred to their husbands, who deferred to their bosses. Only a small portion of the population had rights and everyone else was kept in line. The paternal hierarchy was held in place and the rest of society amounted to little more than property.

We no longer see legal slavery in our country. All adults now have the legal right to vote. People are supposedly equal to one another and we are seeing minorities step up and expect to be treated as equals. While discrimination still exists, on the surface no one questions an adult who expects to be treated as a person.

Children haven’t changed. Society has changed for the better. Fewer people live their lives in fear and submission. While society hasn’t yet reached the point where children, the very future of our civilization and species, are treated as people, we are closer. I am happy to listen to my children’s thoughts, to work together with them to solve problems, and to share our journeys together.

Photo Credit: Anette K

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This post was previously published at Living Peacefully with Children.

About The Author: Mandy

My NPN Posts

Mandy O'Brien is an unschooling mom of five. She's an avid reader and self-proclaimed research fanatic. An active advocate of human rights, Mandy works to provide community programs through volunteer work. She is a co-author of the book Homemade Cleaners, where simple living and green cleaning meet science. She shares a glimpse into her life at Living Peacefully with Children, where she writes about various natural parenting subjects and is working to help parents identify with and normalize attachment parenting through Attachment Parents Get Real.

5 Responses to Today’s Kids

  1. Jessica Lang @ Cloth Diapering Mama  

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is so true. Frequently when we are at a restaurant with our two kids we here older people saying, “when I was a kid we stayed at home” or “restaurants were for adults in my day”. Kids are people, too…they have needs and should not be shushed! :)

  2. Laura

    It’s funny- I have four children, which I don’t consider a large family. However, when we go out in public, I get the most positive comments from people in the 60+ crowd who are done raising their children. They often remark how nice it is to see a big family again, how they remember (and miss!) the days of having children “underfoot.” And then they tell us how cute our kids are! :) It’s nice to see that our children aren’t bothering them and that they don’t mind the child noise and choas we seem to bring with us wherever we go! They seem to like our children being “heard.”

  3. Abbie  

    I have to say that my experience growing up was very different from yours, but I think that’s because my experience was very different from most people in my generation. We were raised on a farm and my parents expected us to help out and we played a role in our whole family’s well-being from a very young age. If there was a problem to solve, my dad always included us in the discussion and expected us to help try to solve it, too. He called it Yankee Ingenuity, and as a result my brothers are both very good with fixing mechanics and building, and while I’m not an expert like they are, I have some pretty good practical skills, too.

    My parents always made me feel like I played an equal role in the family, and while of course my vote was not equal to mom and dad’s, it counted. That’s how I want to raise my child. I want him to feel valuable and respected. I would never want him to feel like he had to tiptoe when my husband is home!

    I’m glad that you wrote this, because I really didn’t realize how different my experience was. I should call my mom and dad and thank them :)

  4. Brynn  

    This brings to mind my recent overuse of the time-out. . . (ugh) . . . guilty sigh. Yes, I have fallen into the trap I think- but am glad that I can recognize this. What an informative article here, as I have not really considered that my toddler-son is most likely modeling much of his stubborn, DIY, pushing-limit behaviors from his stubborn, DIY, pushing limit acting Mama!

    It’s easy to overlook such subtleties when raising children: they are really emulating us. And, now that women are no longer subservient to men and this subservience is not as overly transparent in society as it once was (though, quite arguably is unfortunately still present)- little toddlers are going to stretch their wills as well as their minds much farther.

    Reminder to self- climbing over the couch to access the computer should be taken as a sign that the toddler needs some park-time, not time-out. (guilty sigh)

  5. Mama Mo @ Attached at the Nip

    So, maybe the way to change society’s view of children is to raise ours inclusively. That way, when they grow up, they will raise their own children with respect and love!

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