"While reading Louisa May Alcott's book Little Men to the children during lunch, my daughter insightfully comments on the character Daisy.
"Mom"she says "this must have been at the time when children were allowed to be young."
"Tell me more about that sweetheart."
"Well, Daisy is 12 and she can still play with dolls and her Aunt likes to read her stories. It is not like today, where every one is in such a hurry to grow the children up, and want them to talk about the news and worry about adult things." she quips.
My heart broke listening to her insight that the window is so short for childhood.
And it is getting shorter.
Have you noticed the pressure placed on our children in today's fast paced society?
Children are expected at a very young age to understand complex adult situations, politics, world concerns, and national crises. They are entertained with media of disturbing images, coquettish relational dynamics, and child characters burdened by the world on their shoulders. Children are dressed as little adults, and not exactly modestly clad. They are abandoned to peer groups while expected to negotiate those relations bereft of adult guidance and direction.
Free play is often removed because of the anxiety for children to excel at younger and younger ages. The average 3-6 year old has scant few hours in the day to dig a hole, climb a tree, sit in a swing, sing, dance in circles, build with blocks, day dream on a couch, dress up as their favorite book character, or roll around in the grass.
The average 7-12 year old has no time for such childish pursuits.
What is the solution? What can we do about this? How can we reverse these trends in our own families?
It is very complicated. And yet, we can start with something simple. A dose of patience.
Seems simple, but as I try it myself, I find it very challenging.
If we could meditate on the fact that our children very soon will be older. If we can just believe that there will come the day for that life stage. Then, we can rest in that knowledge.
If we can realize, they will never again be children, that the innocence of their age will quickly pass, we will become advocates of an unhurried childhood. We can engage this life stage with a focus vigilance against anything that would seek to destroy it.
We can slow down, and let them be children.
Then, when they are older, when they are ready, they can jump into the adult stage with joy. Having fully realized their childhood, they can become adults unimpeded and with gusto. Having waited for the season of friendships, world pursuits and adult problems, they will find themselves anxious to get started on their maturing.
Can you try with me to slow down and give your children the childhood they so long for? Can we, together, find patience and trust in God's timing to guide your way?
May we all be able to see, when we look back on our children's first years, a childhood.
"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When became a man, I put childish ways behind me" -1 Corinthians 13:11