Juxtaposition of Family Structure

In the 1870’s when Laura Ingalls grew up, children were an integral part of the family.  They were loved and cherished but as they grew, they were relied upon to do their share of  chores so the family could sustain itself.  Despite the assigned chores, they were still children and treated as such.  However, they were treated with respect and their opinions were heard, perhaps not heeded, but definitely heard.

Fast forward to today and that parent child relationship seems to be skewed in some families.  Children don’t seem to see themselves as an integral part of a family, but rather as an entity entitled to do whatever they want and get everything they want.  Real life during their late teens and twenties is going to be very shocking.  Their sense of entitlement won’t get them very far in the working world.

In a nail salon last week, there was a small girl getting her nails, finger and toe, polished.  I didn’t pay much attention until I saw her earrings which dangled down bouncing every time she moved her head.  They weren’t small and discreet, but rather medium-sized for me whereas on her they looked bigger.  Later on, I heard her mother say she had just started kindergarten and was having a hard time.  It was stunning to realize that this child was just five years old.  I had thought she was six or seven and just small in stature.   It has to be said that “mom” looked over dyed and done up.

Still, when does this little girl get to be a little girl?  In some societies, earring are put on a child when they are still infants.  Since that is their tradition, it should be respected; however, that isn’t or rather wasn’t an American tradition.  It seems that a child should be old enough to put in her own earrings and learn how to care for them herself.  I doubt that a five-year old is ready for that type of responsibility.  It is easy to understand how a little one would want to be just like Mom, but Mom should be adult enough to say, “You can get them when you are XXX age” rather than just giving them to her when she wants them.  Of course, it’s easy to say yes and much harder to say no or even not yet.  That is what separates adults from children.  They want it now and it is our job to decide when the object of their admiration is age appropriate.  Children want parents not an adult best friend.

A recent television show told about a mother providing a day at a spa on a monthly basis for her elementary school age daughter at a cost of $600 per month.  It was not shocking to learn that the family was in financial trouble.  Birthday parties have gotten out of hand with tens of thousands being spent on a child’s birthday.  Many go overboard at Halloween with expensive parties.   Why do we feel our children should have such luxuries?  Where does it stop?


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One Response to Juxtaposition of Family Structure

  1. Doris says:

    Sometimes I think parents use children as proxies for their own egos, as in, "Look what I can afford for my kid." The problem is, as you pointed out, they really can't afford it.

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