Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What's your problem?

A nine or 10-year-old girl on Strictly Baby Ballroom said she liked dancing because 'it made her forget all her problems'. What problems can she have at that age? And at what stage do you identify falling out with your mates or grazing a knee after tripping over a skipping rope a 'problem'?

My wife lost her father at 11. Now that's a 'problem', but I'm not sure she would have given her grief that label back then. Are we too quick to have 'problems' in this age of emotions running high?

I blame the soaps. Neighbours being on so early has brought many issues not usually discussed until a child is older into the home whether we like it or not. I remember my wife's niece asking me what a lesbian was when she was five years old. I told her to ask her dad. I don't think I'd heard the term - or least understood what it really meant - until I was about 12.

And let's not forget the death of Diana as a catalyst for hysterics and getting away with murder. Or am I being a bit harsh?


Clair said...

Don't get me started...I really think kids on pills are a largely a product of paranoid parenting (see Too many parents today don't want anything even vaguely unpleasant to happen to their children, even the normal childhood worries, so they shield them from life's knocks, even though not experiencing them makes children think the world revolves around them and nothing must ever go wrong. Hence they grow up to be the sort of people that keep most of us blogging. And as for the parents - they're so afraid of telling kids off and said kids 'not loving them any more.'

Kids grow up far too quickly these days, and I agree, they shouldn't have 'issues'. What kind of life is it for a ten year old girl when she worries about being fat and not having a boyfriend?

I'd count myself as a successful graduate of the school of Prozac and counselling, but I do think better parenting would have stopped me from becoming a bit of a nut-job in recent years.

Gwen said...

I don't really know a lot obout this sort of thing, granted but my boss's mum committed suicide when she was a teenager - she was bi-polar. I don't think my boss was put on any pills. In those days you just got on with things.

Ian S said...

Well at nine or ten I was being physically and mentally bullied, so I certainly would have wanted to forget my problems. It's a cliche, but I think we sometimes forget what it was like to be a kid. What seems trivial to us grown-ups can be stomach-twistingly awful to a kid.

Putting your kids on Prozac is clearly indulgent bollocks, though. If a kid has seperation anxiety, then you have to do more enforced seperation. Send them somewhere fun for one day a week or something, they'll soon get over it.

Whilst there are some terrible examples of parents out there, it's worth saying that you get no training, and "your parents fuck you up" was a mantra before I was born, so it's nowt new. What's also not new is that every parent I know (going back generations, here) pretty much agrees that worry, guilt and love are the three mainstays of parenthood. Worry that you're not getting the balance between safety and freedom right, and guilt that you're not getting the balance between giving your kids the right life experience and spoiling them.

A lot of what has changed (or is perceived to have changed)is as much to do with society - both the one the parents grew up in, and the one the kids are growing up in, as it does the parents.

Kids are more valued now than they were a hundred years ago now, which is undoubtedly a good thing, but a lot of adults are probably also more insecure as you're less sure of your place in the world these days. (Oh for t'days when you'd just automatically follow your dad down t'mine.)

Then of course there's 24/7 media coverage of everything awful which has probably always happened to the same extent, but just seems so much more damn prevalent. Then there's the publicity that pedophilia gets, ever busier roads, drugs and kids on BMX's with guns.

If you're a non-parent, think of the most precious thing you own being put on top of a precarious plinth in the same room as a hyperactive three-year old toddler. That's how paranoid you can get on a bad day.

But yes, you have to use your intelligence as a parent. (I sometimes wish having enough of it was a pre-requisite for parenthood until I remember how intelligent some serial killers are. )

I often see some scrunchie-haired Mum telling little Chardonnay to shut-the-eff-up. That's exposing your kid to the real world.

Which is worse?

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think psychiatric medication is great (I found Prozac a lifesaver)but not for kids whose brains, afterall, are still developing. And seperation anxiety sounds a bit vague and unclinical, unlike the genuine DSM-IV disorders that warrant clinical intervention.

Good blog btw. Came here via Andew Collins link.


Five-Centres said...

Thanks Ryan. Welcome to the Five-Centres world!