Thursday, December 08, 2005

Teach children or risk losing them

"There is always a moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in...."
- Graham Greene

There are many such moments throughout our lives, though they become fewer as we get older.

When we are children, they are like what adults now call Aha! moments, occasions when disparate facts collected randomly come together to reveal some truth or reality about the world around us.

Children want desperately to learn about the world of adults, the world into which they will grow and expect to play a significant role. Yet parents too often want to deny their children this knowledge so that they may maintain the "innocence of childhood."

Parents who want to keep their children innocent of the realities of life act as if their children are pets. It's the responsibility of parents to teach their children what the world around them is all about, not to keep this knowedge from them.

Parents don't have to disclose all the worst aspects of life in their community as news and tabloid media do to get more attention. However, they do need to teach the generalities to children in order that the kids have some concept of what people are like and why they should trust some strangers and avoid others. Without the background of knowledge, telling a child never to speak to strangers, for example, could lead to tragedy in some situations (such as when a child gets lost).

The job of parents is to prepare their children for adulthood. That involves teaching all along the way, not waiting until it is too late to teach some truths because parents think they are too harsh to teach earlier.

Children need to be cuddled as we might cuddle our pets. But they also need to be taught as if there is a life course they must pass in order to become adults.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to teach the critical realities of parenthood to those who hold that sacred responsibility.
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