Children and their changing roles throughout history


Children in today’s society seem to be much more pampered and less responsible than they were a few decades ago. They also seemed to have lost much of the value system most of us took for granted growing up. By examining the roles of children in the past, we can trace the origin of the problems we have with today’s troubled youth.

In ancient times, children were treated like little adults and given many of the same responsibilities as their parents. The youngsters worked side by side with their parents in the fields from the time they could walk. Boys serving as soldiers were not uncommon in some countries. Marriages were performed when a person was approximately twelve years old in the hope that they would be able to reproduce in the few years they had left to live. Young people these days were exposed to the harsh realities of life practically from birth.

Death was also a daily event when the average lifespan was approximately forty years. Only one in five children survived to adulthood, so the loss of siblings was also a common occurrence. Many parents did not live to see their children grow up due to loss of life in battle and childbirth, and many children were raised by adults who had little or no blood connection to them.

All of these factors prohibited most children from being pampered or spoiled. The daily struggle to survive curtailed any frivolity. This is not to say that these parents did not value or care about their children. Any child who survived infancy was considered a great asset and human nature dictated that these children could have been highly prized.

Discipline was also much more vigorous than it is today. Due to the dangers that were present in the scenarios of yesteryear, disobeying the parental rule could often lead to death. As a way of protecting these youngsters, many parents physically beat them to make sure the rules were followed.

In the modern world, daily survival is not the struggle it once was. Parents have become more forgiving and loving than their predecessors would have dreamed of being. All children enjoy playing with toys and receiving a quality education. Many experts emphasize that parents should allow their children to fully enjoy their childhood as a vital step in becoming healthy and happy adults.

Due to this child-rearing attitude, various problems have developed. Some young people today seem to have no respect for anything, and many are ending up in jail before their eighteenth birthday. Drug and alcohol abuse is rampant. As adults, many of these children find that they cannot cope with “real” life.

As a parent, there are a number of ways you can help your child become a successful adult. The most important thing to remember is that all children need rules, and penalties must be imposed if these guidelines are not followed. This does not mean that you should physically punish your child in any way. You can decide on an appropriate punishment, but the punishment must be given. If you set a set of rules and don’t follow them, you could be sending your child the message that the rules aren’t important.

You can also give your child some responsibilities around the house. This is a great way to teach your child many of the cleaning skills he’ll need as an adult. Teaching your child respect for herself and others, as well as good manners, is key to her continued social success.

As a parent, it is your job and your privilege to teach your child everything they will need to know as they grow. Having a good parenting plan can prevent your child from ending up in situations that both you and your child will later regret.