May 25, 2010

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I have a serious gripe about the childhood experience in the new millennium.

It's absolutely and completely devoid of innocence. In fact, the concept of innocence as a basic right of childhood has disappeared. Whatever happened to the good ol' days when children were allowed to be children? They wore children's clothes. Played children's games. Talked about things children should talk about. And worried about things only children should worry about, like, How am I going to clean my room quick enough to go outside and play? Or, Will Johnny play with me when I get outside? Or, How fast do I have to pedal this bike to make it home before the streetlights come on?

Does anybody else remember these glory days?

Instead, today most parents are dressing their children like mini-adults, in smaller versions of the trashy stuff adults wear. I see little girls in miniskirts, tight jeans, high-heeled shoes and wearing training bras before they have anything to train. I see 4-year-old boys with pierced ears and diamond studs -- sometimes two. Everybody is in a rush for children to grow up.

On any given day in the parenting blogosphere, you'll find someone, somewhere asking if 10 years old is too young to start waxing legs, or some other mommy-angst over eyebrow- or lip-waxing for 8-year-olds. If a child is being teased because of excessive hair growth, then I may understand a parent giving it some consideration (depending on the child's age), but this excessive attention on grooming at such an early age is dangerous. It increases a child's self-consciousness rather than their self-confidence, as far as I'm concerned.

Meanwhile, our conversations, popular music and clothing have oversexualized our children and introduced them to "grown folk" concepts long before they are ready. Then we wonder why 14-year-olds are raping 7-year-olds, and what this world is coming to. My 10- and 6-year-olds barely watch any TV as it is, but when Disney Channel's Hannah Montana started kissing boys and Zack and Cody started "dating," I quickly cut those shows out of the approved rotation.

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