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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Kids growing up too fast

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.

5 comments:

Izzy said...

I am 12 years old, and I wholey agree with you. Kids nowadays are growing up too fast! I'm the only girl in my school who doesn't wear skinny jeans, make up, or dye or straighten my hair. I just said that to show there is hope that a few middle schoolers actually do have morals.^ ^

Jim McAllister said...

Atta girl, Izzy,
You sound like a smart girl. Keep doing what you are doing and enjoy your precious childhood. It will be over soon enough without rushing it. Tell your parents I said "Thanks" for pointing you in the right direction. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Your phrase simply excellent

Anonymous said...

At the end of year 4, I thought I was in love and everyday I use to go behind the school canteen and kiss him. But now that I am almost 15 I thoroughly regret my actions, because I never got the chance to have a true first kiss with someone that could actually mean something in my life. I am in year 9 and in my year there are over 250 girls and I am basically the only 1 who doesn't wear make-up and I am proud of it. You don't need make up to look pretty. I don't dye my hair, however not many do in Sydney as they think it looks disgusting. I always look back and reminisce when I see child playing happily and innocently. I grew up too fast. I see people aged less than 12 making out at the train station like an animal. What is wrong with them? They swear every second word, it horrific. There is no sense of restraint or self esteem, all they want is a boyfriend and to be cool. You can walk down the street and see four year 6 girls. They cake their face, wear stilettos, shave their legs, wear micro skirts which barely cover their ass, and a mid-riff / off the shoulder shirt, with their hair in a ponytail at the top of their head to the side. THey look TERRIBLE! they have no morals. What happened to the world?

Jim McAllister said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for checking in all the way from Sydney. It sounds like the young girls there are similar to the ones in the US. They seem to want to grow up in a hurry or at least THINK they are growing up. A lot of parents think that is cute without any regard for the possible repercussions of such behavior.

I look at their behavior as immature; much more immature than if they acted their actual young age instead of trying to be something they aren't. It's a hormonal thing at their age and I applaud you for taking your time and not falling into the same trap they have. When you meet the right guy, it will have a lot more meaning than smearing makeup on your face, dying your hair, and sneaking some kisses in the dark.

Hank in there; I'm sure you are gorgeous without the phoniness and eventually some nice guy will come along and appreciate your maturity.