Growing up just twenty years ago the world was a vastly different place. We hear all the time that today’s children don’t go outside and play enough. They are cooped up indoors because it is unsafe to run around the streets like their parents did. Or we hear others lament today’s culture that emphasizes the computer or the IPAD as toys rather than “old-fashioned” playthings like blocks or even the Barbie Dolls of past generations.
Perhaps there is some truth to the notion that the world is less safe. Perhaps there are more exciting toys for kids to play with but does that mean that the nature of childhood has changed?
The subject of childhood was paramount to author, Ray Bradbury, and his novel, Dandelion Wine, is his celebration of the wonder of summer for adventurous little boys. The kind who get up at the crack of dawn to run barefoot through the grass, playing until their mothers and fathers holler for them to return home. It is set in the year 1928 and it depicts a very different time for youngsters.
“Well as anyone knew, the hills around town were wild with friends putting cows to riot, playing barometer to the atmospheric changes, taking sun, peeling like calendars each day to take more sun. To catch those friends, you must run faster than foxes or squirrels.”
Sounds quaint, right? It also sounds kind of terrific to spend your days running around with your buddies, playing outside.
Okay, so maybe we have lost a little of that adventurousness as we have gone to a more digital society.
But childhood itself has not changed. Nor have its playful children. As a society we may boast more gadgets, more ways to stay connected and even more toys, but our children are the same. Deep down, they still want the same things we wanted when we were little. They long for playtime, for friends, for fun, for security and for love.
As our world becomes more technology-driven and thus more complex, the grounding love and devotion that comes from a home in which two parents can provide a harmonious relationship is even more important than ever. If that is not possible due to differences between the two parents, then it is tantamount that even when the parental union is absent, each of the parents’ influence upon the child is not.
What would you like to give your child to better enjoy their childhood that you feel is currently missing?