Grow up!

Grandad Sept-75

The BBC has written a piece about childhood being too short – taken from a website run by and for mothers. If you ask almost any mother, childhood is too short. Some of us may have found certain phases far too long as we went through them, but by the time our beloved offspring have reached later teenage years and beyond, it is a common experience to see it as time passed far too fast.

According to the article, childhood ends at about 12. That sounds about right to me from my own experience – puberty starts, the world shifts a bit, things which seemed obvious become less so, the hugs become about as frequent as the shouting, the future starts to loom, and I wanted to be treated differently from a 4 year old.

In the good old days, I’d have gone to work – into domestic service, or into the factories. I’d have been expected to do a job day in day out, to take some responsibility for myself, always with others in charge and overseeing me as I grew up. And that is perhaps the point. Children weren’t grown up at 12, but they were often moved away from their home into a different environment, and expected to operate in a different way. Apprenticeships served a similar purpose.

I’m not advocating a return to the days of shoving small children up chimneys. But most of the point of being a parent, as far as I am concerned, is to make sure that my beloved offspring can stand safely on their own feet, preferably without trampling on anyone else in the process. That means leaving childhood behind well before they leave home, so that they can learn to function as adults in some small ways before they launch themselves into the big wide world and really learn to fly. The more I can help them, the better.

2 responses to “Grow up!

  1. Oh, I so agree! The result of this modern desire to keep children as children for too long is the 18 year-old whose parents virtually accompany him or her to college and can’t let go. My DH and I always had as our aim to enable our children to live live successfully without us and the sooner the better. 🙂

  2. Yes, I’ve been slightly surprised by the number of parents taking their children to higher education establishment open days and interviews – part of the fun for me was the train or coach journey (and it helped me understand how easy or difficult it would be to get home in a hurry!).
    I’m a great fan of letting children be children – but of encouraging them to grow to independence too!

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