When I was ten or eleven years old, girls my age were considered "little girls." They wore frilly little dresses, patent leather buckled shoes with little white socks, and usually had their hair in "pig tails." Playing with dolls was not uncommon and they had no interest in going to a mall, because malls didn’t yet exist.
I know parents who have girls this age who are now pestering their parents for mini skirts, thongs, and cropped tee shirts. Also popular with these kids are short shorts with words like "Juicy," "Hot," and "Yum," printed on the rear end. Obviously, dolls and pig tails have disappeared from the equation.
This is only part of the desire of young girls and boys to pass up childhood. As Karina Bland points out in her recent Republic column, it is not unusual for kids to be "hanging out at the mall unsupervised, and going to boy-girl parties." Most of these kids have cell phones and computers and may even have a site on MySpace. Gone are the days of board games and toys.
Karina says that many experts blame the parents for allowing kids to become this way. I agree. Kids are impressionable and when parents allow them to see programs like "Desperate Housewives" they may want to emulate the characters on that show. Some parents think it is "cute" for kids 9 or 10 to date. Here are more statistics: 55% of parents say childhood is over by 11. 75% of parents allow their kids to drink alcohol before age 18, and in Arizona, half of the eighth graders in 2006 had tried alcohol. 54% of children are allowed to dye their hair and wear makeup before age 14.
Some parents justify this behavior saying "It’s harder to say ‘no’ to a child than it is to say "Go ahead and do it.’" What? So, you don't say "no" just because it is hard? What happened to sensible, disciplined parenting? I can’t say I am surprised that parents take this attitude. In Scottsdale and Phoenix I have observed kids controlling their parents for years. The parents are too lazy or disinterested in their kids to "lay down the law." A lot of parents also have their own agendas which don’t involve their kids. It’s selfishness on their part as they refuse to give up their precious time and interests for the sake of their kids.
Maybe I am behind the times and this is now acceptable behavior for kids and parents. I see mobs of kids in the malls. There are usually boys and girls hanging together. When I was a kid, there was no way my friends and I hung around with girls. We were intimidated by them! Taking a girl to the movies was a special occasion. That was a different era but I think it made a lot more sense than some of the stuff I see today. At least we had a childhood.