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Are We Forcing Our Children to Grow Up Too Fast?

In the field of child development, scholars believe that there are two extreme schools of thought which have to be avoided if only parents can properly raise their children: absolute behaviorism and absolute cognitivism. On the one side of the spectrum, absolute behaviorism is a psychological approach which takes the mind of a child as a completely malleable matter that can be fashioned according to the dictates of an adult.

On the other side of the spectrum, and surely by way of contrast, absolute cognitivism believes that the mind of the child is incurably programmed to acquire skills necessary for later living, notwithstanding care and guidance from adults. The integration of these two approaches is an insightful path to take. Wartofsky therefore contends that adults must be there to guide their “infants and young children” when they try “make sense” of both their external experiences and internal learning, according to their respective frames and paces (Wartofsky, 1986, p. 113).

In view of the felt need to see children through their critical growth periods, being that – according to Sigelman and Rider – “children all progress through the same sequences at roughly similar ages” (2009, p. 283), this paper explores the role of parental misgivings in denying our children their right to undergo a normal pace of maturation. Specifically, this paper takes a keen interest in arguing that, in ways more than one, many adults are forcing their children to grow up, whether consciously or unconsciously, at a pace that is well beyond the rate relative to the age and maturity of a normal child.

An Inquiry into Three Psychological Facets to Support the Case In this paper, I wish to cite three reasons to support the contention which I have hereinabove laid. Such reasons include first, deliberate or circumstantial parental neglect; second, children’s exposure to certain affairs not suitable for their age; and third, adult persons’ mishandling of their issues in the presence their children. While there surely are a myriad of incidences that may be cited to give reasons to my claim, I believe that focusing on these three psychological aspects can already substantiate the crux of the central argument.

First of all, I am of the firm opinion that children are forced to grow up faster than their normal maturation pace when, notwithstanding parental excuses, they are neglected by their parents or guardians during critical growth months or years. This is because parents may fall into the temptation of assuming that children, just like them, can in the long run adjust to their absence. But the truth of the matter is, children are not as strong as we think they are; children are not as ready to withstand parental loss as adults can.

According to Scott Peck, author of the hugely-popular book The Road Less Traveled, “the realization that (one is) helpless, totally dependent and totally at the mercy of its parents for all forms of sustenance and means of survival” is axiomatic in every persons’ childhood life (Peck, 1980, 25). Simply put, being a child entails being dependent. Along the same vein, children – because they are children – need to slowly learn how to explore the world only after they have imbibed a certain sense of security which only parents can provide.

Thus, while it is true that children can adjust to the absence of their biological parents given time, the fact that such absence exacts from children an emotional burden which is too much for them to handle, remains to be incontestably hard truth to accept. Far more critical, there are reasons to think that leaving our children to grow up without the nurturing guidance and presence of parents is akin to asking these kids to emotionally mature at a rate faster than what their slow childhood growth can afford.

Adults are, in a manner of speaking, treating their children like adults when they cannot provide them with presence. And it is like asking them to be independent at a time when they are supposed to be dependent upon parental nurturance. Secondly, adults are forcing children to grow up fast when, because of such parental neglect, they are leaving their kids exposed to affairs and experiences proper to adult. Herein it is certainly self-evident to cite that many children’s early exposure to pornographic materials from the Internet stands out to be a glaring example to cite.

According to a study, more than a quarter of children across the United States of America “claimed” that they “had received no instruction on internet safety” from adults within the household (Dombrowski, et. al. 2007, p. 14). This explains, in part at least, why children become most vulnerable to accessing pornographic materials or worse, from illicit sexual solicitation sporadically scattered around the Internet.

Once more, the crux of the matter lies not in the specific issue of childhood pornography as the parental neglect that can be gleaned from it. Children’s early exposure to illicit relationships or drug abuse can be likewise taken as telling cases of parental neglect. However, the point in contention lays the need to reveal how adults can sometimes conveniently assume that children can weather the impact of their exposure to adult-things as they grow up. The fact is, it is like asking them to grow up so fast.

It is certainly like asking them to mature instantly so they can, in turn, handle certain affairs of adults competently. Thus, that children are left to digest certain things proper to adults, for reasons involving parental absence and neglect, is akin to saying that they can grow up with pangs of human experiences just as adult persons can. Last but not least, and surely related to the foregoing, it must be admitted that adults can unconsciously force their young ones to grow up fast when they mishandle adult issues in their presence.

This happens most especially when kids are left by themselves to make sense of divorce and separation issues, as well as of spousal conflicts, because parents are unwilling to sit with them to discuss – and try to level down – the serious matter in the very first place. Scott Peck, on such account, believes that we cannot leave children unattended especially when they get to be involved in parental and/or spousal issues (such as divorce, death, absences due to occupation, among others) as though they can “grow out of it”. He contends:

And with respect for the complexity of parenting, it must be said that parental decisions (such as divorce or separation) are difficult, and that children often do “grow out of it”. But in almost never hurts to try to help them grow out of it…And while children often “grow out of it,: often they do not. (Peck, 1980, p. 32). When adults therefore automatically assume that children can handle these complex human issues as though they are less vulnerable as adults are, it is therefore tantamount to forcing them to understand things according to our mature frames.

Once more, it is equivalent to forcing them to grow up beyond the normal pace of their maturation. Conclusion By way of conclusion, this paper ends with a thought that affirms its initially slated thesis statement: i. e. , adult persons are forcing their children to grow up too fast, and thereby are denying them of the right to mature at a pace relative to their age and stage.

Insofar as this study is limited to circumscribing the reasons to support the central argument, the discussions zeroed in on identifying three psychological factors that attempts to reinforce the point. In the discussions that were developed, it was seen that parental deliberate or circumstantial absence and/or neglect, which in turn leaves children vulnerable to affairs proper to adults, and mishandling of parental issues contribute to modern society’s tendency to speed up their children’s growth and maturation process.

The ramifications of truncating the need to grow up naturally can be devastating for children. To this end, parents need therefore put higher premium than most on personally overseeing the growth of their children, consistent to demands of their respective age and developmental stage. Works Cited Dombrowski, S. , Gischlar, K. , & Durst T. (2007) “Safeguarding Young People from Cyber Pornography and Cyber Sexual Predation: A Major Dilemma of the Internet”. Child Abuse Review, Volume 16, pp.

150-170. Peck, S. (1980). The Road Less Traveled. A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth. New York, Simon and Schuster. Sigelman, C. & Rider, E. (2008). Life-Span Human Development. Sixth Edition. Wadsworth Publishing. Wartofsky, M. “On the Creation and Transformation of Norms of Human Development”. Leonard Cirillo & Seymour Wapner, editors. (1986). Value Presuppositions in Theories of Human Development. Hillsdale, New Jersey, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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