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Between Generations

Things have changed so dramatically in the last 25 years. . .

We used to be able to leave our elementary school aged children home by themselves for a few hours before or after school without having to worry that CPS would be called because we were “neglecting them.”

Our children used to be able to walk or ride their bikes a half a mile or mile away to the school playground and play by themselves unsupervised without us having to worry that CPS would be called because again we were “neglecting them.”

We used to be able to choose whether or not to take our child to the doctor for an illness or use what home remedies our parents used for generations without having to worry someone might call CPS because we were not “providing appropriate” medical care for our children.

We used to be able to spank our children when they did something wrong, or have them sit in the bathroom with a bar or soap in their mouths, or have them stand in the corner without having to worry about someone calling CPS because we are “abusing” our child.

Isn’t leaving children home for short periods of time, or letting them play at a nearby park unsupervised fostering independence and building character?  I have lots of fond memories of  many hours of park play unsupervised and I don’t think I am any worse for ware.  We worry about safety.  That someone might snatch our child from the park, but could me not prevent that by sending them in groups? Was it really “safer” 25 years ago? We have brilliant technology nowadays and our children have cell phones so we can find out where they are in seconds. . . we can put GPS trackers in our children’s shoes and watches and track where they are on our computers.  We have surveillance camera’s virtually everywhere.  In fact I just noticed some at a park around the corner from my parents house where I used to play as a child.  So why can’t we let our children play without us?

I rarely remember going to the doctor as a child.  When we were ill we got to be sick and miserable on the couch or in bed with Mom checking on us to make sure we weren’t too bad off, until the bug passed.  If it stuck around too long, then we made the trek to the doctor (but this was rare).  No one said this was wrong.  No one said this was neglectful.  It’s just the way it was.  Doctors can’t cure a cold, they can give you ways to treat the symptoms, but as long as you don’t have a dangerously high fever shouldn’t you  be able to just treat the symptoms at home, naturally (like people have done for thousands of years before the invention of modern medicine?) without having to worry that someone will tell you you are abusing your child and threaten to take them away?

We used to be able to discipline our children as we saw fit.  Children were smacked on the bottom and hands.  They were made to sit and stand in corners.  They were made to sit in “time-out”.  Sitting in the bathroom with a bar of soap in your mouth for cursing was not an uncommon practice.  I remember getting smacked on the butt, smacked on the hand with a wooden spoon, sitting in timeout, sitting in my room, being grounded and sitting in the bathroom with a bar of soap in my mouth.  And do you know what?  I think I turned out okay.  So why is it that if I use the same types of punishments today that my parents’ used on me as a child that there is a chance someone might report that as abuse?  (Disclaimer: There is a difference between hitting and beating.  I am not in anyway advocating hitting or beating your child.  I will tell you though if my child is about to touch a hot stove I am not above smacking their hand to stop them from burning themselves. I do not advocate repeatedly hitting your child with your hand, belt or other object to me that is beating and it means there is more wrong with you than the child, but that’s another blog post and some therapy. . .)

When did our society become so soft?  How do we keep it from becoming softer? How do we teach our children independence if we can’t let them roam?  How can we teach them right and wrong if our list of consequences for them is extremely limited. Why do we now have to take our children to the doctor for every little minor illness? When did it become okay that the government seems to want to take our rights as parents away? Because the government’s track record of raising “wholesome well-adjusted kids” they have taken from their parents is gleamingly spotless, right?  Why is it the ways of our childhood are no longer the “right” ways? How do we change and get things back to a simpler way?

What do you think?

Children’s Parties

The babe is fast approaching the two year old mark and the internal debate of to throw or not to throw a party for him rages within me. I’ve hosted a few parties in my day and I never find them to be “fun”. I am usually so busy running around to make sure all my guests are entertained that I rarely find time to enjoy myself.

In this case the party would not be about me, rather it would be about the babe. So I ask myself, how would the babe feel about a party? Honestly, I don’t think the babe would care either way. My husband and myself are still his main world, with his teachers and Grammy following in at a close second.

I have received upcoming birthday invitations from two children at his school plus two more invitations from friends with children ranging 2-5. (Yes, my son has a better social life than his parents do.) When I received the invitations from the school children I thought to myself… “These parents are insane! There are 12 kids in his class plus whatever family friend kids they would invite… I can’t imagine 20, two year old’s running around my yard” (and we live on almost a ½ acre.) After attending one of the parties over the weekend I quickly became convinced that a small party for the babe with just family will suffice quite nicely… and this is how I came to this conclusion…

1. Throwing children’s parties, even at your home, can be costly!Most people feel obligated to provide some sort of entertainment be it a petting zoo, bouncy house, or other rent for the day something or other. Tables and chair rental (if you don’t own enough), cakes, food, decorations, party bags… all of these things add up quickly, even if you do everything yourself.

2. We are currently working on paying off our debt, not accumulating more. A rough estimate is that a “simple” child’s party can costs $200+. (And what I’ve seen some parents spend is far beyond that, especially if they host the party at a place designed to entertain children or buy a bouncy house.)

3. We have a pretty large family. If just my immediate family were to come (this isn’t even my husbands) there would be 10 people. So I don’t think the babe would miss out on having people around to celebrate him.  (I’ve also heard you should have as many children as your child’s age, which really would make a party a lot more manageable).

4. I am not convinced the babe will remember his 2nd birthday… in which case I’d rather wait and spend exorbitant amounts of money when he is older and might actually remember.

5. I should have already sent out invitations if I want to have a party…apparently I am not as organized as other mothers because my child’s birthday is 4 weeks away and I didn’t decide until last week we weren’t having a huge party. If we were having a party, I’d already be behind in sending out the invitations because like a wedding you should have them sent out 6 weeks in advance…

I decided that in lieu of a “children’s” party the babe, the hubs and I will play hooky on his birthday and take a trip to the zoo. Then the babe will have lunch and cake surrounded by family on the weekend before or after his birthday (we still haven’t even figured that part out). I want to keep it simple and enjoyable for all involved.

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