I have every respect for people who do what they can to educate and assist parents and society in general in how to raise children in safe, healthy, non-abusive surroundings. As the title of this post says - Being a child shouldn't hurt. Rarely does a day go by that I don't read or hear about a child that was neglected or abused, and my heart truly goes out to these often very young and innocent children.
On the flip side, I think we have, as a society, swung the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. Having had three children of my own, and with 7.8 grandchildren (number 8 should be born in a week!) being raised by those children, I get my share of questions on how to get the grandkids to do this or that, or how to deal with a behavioral problem, or simply what to expect when. Occasionally, having given advice, I'll get a "but times have changed, Mom" response, and I cringe because times certainly have changed... and yes, I do blame much of the changes on the liberal and permissive trends of parenting over the past couple decades.
Every child has the right to feel loved and every child has the right to feel safe. But, every child needs to learn that rights and responsibilities go hand in hand. Every child needs to learn respect for their elders (and btw, those elders need to behave in a manner that makes them worthy of that respect.) Every child needs parents who act like parents rather than just friends. Every child needs to develop a sense of ambition that will drive them to achieve the best they can, instead of being rewarded for simply showing up. Every child needs to learn to set their own boundaries and respect the boundaries and feelings of others. True success in life comes from skills like mindfulness, tact, and being a good team player.... and it is the adults of our society who must teach them those skills.
Some children will turn out exceptionally well no matter how they're parented, but others need to learn through experience. Our children need strong adults to teach them to deal with the realities of life. There will be disappointments. There will be others who are better than they are at certain things. They will have to work hard at some point for the things they want in life. Not everyone will like them. Most times there are no do-overs.
In my humble opinion, I think society does its children a disservice that also borders on a form of abuse when we don't teach our children how to cope with life and respect authority. As a result we are raising a generation of children who believe that they're in charge. They shouldn't be reprimanded lest it damage their sensitive egos. They shouldn't be punished for doing something wrong lest the punishment involved damage them physically, mentally, or emotionally. And of course, they should automatically be forgiven, whether or not they are sorry or even understand the repercussions of their actions.
No, being a child shouldn't hurt... but I think we need to take a good hard look at how much our children are being hurt by not learning how to deal with life through appropriate, positive results producing methods. We need to help them understand that the world is complex and that not everyone can be right/the best/(insert your favorite word here) all of the time. We need to find a happy medium between being kind and gentle, and preparing our children for the real world. Children need limits - finding the best way to get them to heed those limits is a very individualized process, since each child has his or her own basic nature to deal with.
It's a shame that many parents seem to have become afraid of their children, having to second-guess their parenting decisions so that they won't live in fear that someone will disagree with their methods and/or misconstrue their intentions taking the situation out of the hands of the parents. Easy answers? There are none, but I believe there needs to be a middle road between abusive and over indulgent parenting. Abuse - no. Healthy limits - definitely.
In honor of today's recognition of International Day of Innocent Children, Victims of Aggression Day, I'm sharing items from some shops that contribute a portion of their profits to child abuse prevention or other children's programs. Please support their wonderful causes if you can!