If Kids Knew How Screwed Up Adults Are They Wouldn’t Want to Grow Up So Quickly
My daughter looked into my eyes as we were lying across her bed, doing homework. Reading is one of our favorite activities to do together. We cuddle up and talk about what we’re reading and laugh at the voices we make for the characters who have speaking parts.
We were listening via earbuds and following along in the book, and her earbud fell out of her ear. It was an easy fix as I shifted my earbud to the other ear and kept going. She looked up at me and said, “Mommy, how do you do that?” I nonchalantly fixed the problem without a second thought and realized that she looks up to me for little things. “You always know what to do, and you’re beautiful.”
My heart melted at the being beautiful part, and I remember thinking my mom was beautiful too. But the part that’s harder to comprehend is that we always know what to do as parents. It would be great if this was true, but I wonder if she knew how screwed up my thought process was, what she’d think of me then. I want to protect her innocent thinking and keep her from growing up too fast.
Modern childhood ends at the age of 12, according to BBC. That’s way too early, in my opinion. Why do kids want to grow up so fast? Kids think growing up is the best thing in the world because they don’t know about responsibilities, keeping the house clean, or bills. It’s a good thing too, in my opinion.
Children need an appropriate level of self-awareness and responsibility so they build good character. Our kids do chores as a civic duty to being a part of the family. We all need clothes to wear, so we take turns folding the laundry. We like to eat off of clean plates, so they need to empty the dishwasher when it’s clean. And they’d need to be responsible to load the dishwasher after they’ve eaten too, instead of dropping the dishes in the sink and running off. It’s helpful to the flow of kitchen activity. If the trash is full, be responsible, and take it out. But what I would give for the carefree nature to go outside and play, or take a nap.
The Center for Parenting Education says:
“Children feel lovable when they have a sense of worth, when they feel appreciated and loved for who they are, regarding themselves as important and worthy of being loved.”
It is one of our biggest jobs as parents to teach kids well while not over sheltering them. The goal is to create an environment that doesn’t foster them to grow up too early.
Preserve the Nature of Being a Child
Insecurity during childhood, especially during the teenage years, goes hand-in-hand, but the comparison trap and being on social media may be prompting kids to grow up faster than necessary.
Odyssey wrestles with the issue:
“Teenage girls — barely out of middle school — are getting body modifications done (such as belly piercings), and then wearing crop tops, and tank tops that reveal way too much skin for such a young age. Young teenage and pre-teen girls are wearing full faces of makeup, trying to hide away insecurities that shouldn’t be that big of an issue at this point in their lives.”
Many of our little girls trade being cute for being a hottie as they dress and dance like others they admire on TikTok, which directly targets young girls:
The app’s user base, 50% of which being between the ages of 13–24, has created makeup application videos, adventurous challenges, and self-deprecating skits about social awkwardness, mental health, etc., set to music.
No wonder our kids are growing up so fast. What are we to do about it?
Encourage Where Possible
Encourage without being overly strict. Ever been told you can’t do something just to fight with tooth and nail to do the very thing you were told not to do? Every parent probably feels that this is the very essence of being a kid.
You can’t keep kids off of social media forever, but you can set limits on time use, and encourage downtime. Install parental controls, if you haven’t already done so. We don’t let our kids have unfiltered internet access, but we also don’t have to hover over them to see what they are doing because we’ve approved their apps. Allow privacy, but encourage openness. If kids are on social media, be aware that moodiness may be fostered by online engagement.
Be Aware of Body Image Issues
Kids, who are already in awkward stages of development, have extra pressure to look like and act like others they look up to as being “perfect.” Take extra steps to let kids know they are loved just the way they are. You can encourage healthy eating and model the behavior. How you stock the cupboards can make all the difference. When kids get hungry, they will eat what’s available. Keep healthy food stocked for quick access and kids are more likely to eat it. The words you use matter too. Talk about healthy eating instead of a diet. And most importantly, keep talking.
Have Heart-to-Heart Conversations
Spend time with your children and let them know that you care. In times of being together, you may be looking for time apart. It’s not hard to put a family game night on the calendar or, like we sometimes do, turn off the internet for an hour. Make sure that you come together for family meals, at least on occasion.
One study finds that 40 percent of American families eat dinner together only three or fewer times a week, with 10 percent never eating dinner together at all.
It takes effort to come together, but your kids are worth the energy. Find time to eat together and talk with kids to encourage and model the behavior you want to grow in them.
Learn to Let Go
You can’t keep kids in a bubble. They will grow up, but they don’t have to grow up too fast if you spend quality time together. Encourage the traits you want to see and stay relatable by taking interest in the things kids care about. Take care to develop their self-worth and promote good character with the hope that they won’t grow up too early. Love them to allow them to leave the nest, and they’ll keep you around when they’re older. At least that’s the plan.