Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The Midnight Kids

I know I'm old fashioned and a fuddy-duddy but why are parents letting their nine, ten and eleven year old children to still be 'playing' outside at eleven - twelve p.m. and even through to two to three a.m? Do they not care, do they not know their children are not at home safe? Or do they think that a nine year old is capable of living life on the streets and it's okay? Though I do not believe that children should be molly-collied, I do not believe either that they are mini-versioned adults. Mini-Me-Adult clones (as Mini-Me from the Austin Powers films) children are not! They should be loved and looked after by their parents. And though children wandering the streets late at night was part of Victorian culture (so was deporting a starving man to Australia for stealing a loaf of bread) and therefore they had to 'grow up' and face the despotism of town and city life, it should not be part of a culture that has a moral and social application of being more, shall I say, enlightened.

Children need our guidance as well as our protection. Parents need to take on the obligation of being parents, not just whilst their children are cute and cuddly in their nappies and buggies, I was going to say prams but you don't see many of them about now days, but also when they can walk and squawk, sorry talk :), when they can cuss and swear like any true bloodied trooper, and when they can harass and attack and cause criminal damage and physical harm to those younger and older than themselves. What on earth are parents about when their young children are wander the streets like latter-day vagabonds? What would those parents do if their children were hurt in anyway by any means? Blame the schools, the police, the local council, the church, the dustbin-men, sorry dustbin-persons or refuge assistants, blame anybody and everybody but themselves. Parenthood is amazing. You give birth to life and you see that life grow. Parenthood is IMPORTANT, SPECIAL and DEMANDING of your time, energy and most important of all parenthood calls for self-sacrifice and responsibility for another. Time to step up to the task parents and REALLY BE PARENTS.

On the note of 'children being out late is unacceptable', 'Operation Staysafe', see link below, was intended to stop children becoming victims of crime or being drawn into criminal behaviour. Though the children in this case were over nine years old and some would consider themselves, as would their parents, as 'old enough to do what they want', the shocking thing is the lack of taking responsibility for their actions, either by the 'child' or by the parents being responsible for said child.

Yes. I was a child and a teenager once. I was also self opinionated (nothing changed there), self-indulgent and self-centred. I got drunk and unruly and out of my depth at times. But I had a home to go to, and was welcome and loved in my home. I was more afraid of upsetting, if not disappointing my parents, especially my Mum, than of the local police! But I knew the boundaries, I understood the reason for the boundaries, and I, like all children and teenagers today, needed boundaries. The culture has changed only in so much as drink and drugs and sexual exploits are considered the only way to be enjoying yourself. If you're not pissing your head off, getting high, or shagging someone then you're not living. That is the culture we are adhering to. That is the culture we are accepting as the norm. Yes drunken debauchery has always gone on, it may have been swept under the carpet and ignored as a 'youthful bon-adventure' as it is now days, and it may have been frowned upon and strict civil and social laws or regulations implemented, but it was never seen as the thing to do, to aspire to, to excel in. Life is hard for both parents and children now days. It always has been. Maybe it is time for communities to open their eyes and work with the legal and the social and civil structures to endeavour to bring some sense of self-esteem and respect of self to the young. Not by copious indifference of attitude, as in 'the young will be young', but by offering a sense of pride and ambition, a desire for aspiration not banality. Maybe it is also time for the parents to be parents and not keep trying to be best friends with their children. Most children have friends. What they need are parents, social leaders they can find aspiration from, not leaders who want to be 'little teenagers' themselves and to be seen as 'cool' or 'wicked' or 'fit' (whatever the in term is :) ). Time to step up.

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