The Evolution of Childhood

I keep hearing this often from adults who get nostalgic about their childhood, want to be a child again, and lament at the supposed “loss” of childhood that today’s kids encounter. As an example, take this post from my Twitter friend Haroon Bijli. This post was inspired from a conversation on Twitter with @Bijli and @LyricalMutiny.

Consider:

  • I never experienced in-house cattle like my parents did for unlimited milk-supply. Kids these days need to be taught where milk originally comes from.
  • Unlike my elder siblings, I did not learn swimming in a huge village well from elder cousins.
  • When I grew up, there was no computer, no iPad. When my dad grew up, there was no calculator.

And so on. You get the picture. Now:

  • My kid will never get the experience of drawing water from a well in the village.
  • My kid may never taste raw milk drawn from a buffalo live in front of you.
  • My kid will never know the joys of collecting Jungle Book stickers from underneath soft-drink bottle caps.
  • My kid who has tried flying a kite will probably have a kid in future who will probably be flying a remote-controlled UFO.

Point is, I did not have the childhood my parents had. My kid won’t have the childhood I had. Does this make any one childhood better or worse than the other?

  • My kid may one day lament about how her kid doesn’t have the childhood she had.

One valid point was raised in the conversation on Twitter, about kids becoming couch potatoes. All kids seem to do these days is watch TV or play on iPads and do nothing else. No physical activity, whatsoever.

If that is the case, it is certainly bad. But it’s not the kids’ fault. No kid is born to be a couch potato. One becomes a couch potato only by learning from parents.

Are you actively engaging your kid in playing outdoor games? Are you practicing a musical instrument along with your kid? Are you practicing the dance steps your kid has learnt in school? And so on. Your kid will always do what you normally do, as a way of life. If one’s way of life is a couch-potato, one’s kid will be the same.

Today’s kids will never do what you did as a child. You did not do the things your parents did when they were kids. Should we keep thinking that our childhood was somehow great and it is lost forever for future generations?

Aren’t we being myopic and self-centered? The world changes and so should we. Each and every childhood is special. We’re just too grown up and inflexible to realize and adapt to change, which is a constant of nature and life in general.

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  • I respect the points you made there and yes, you’re right, it’s not their fault and we all cant live the same childhood..

  • Exactly. Kids are very good hypocrisy detectors; telling them to go play outside while you gaze at shiny rectangles is not going to go anywhere. I should know; being guilty of the same practice.

    Oh, and Gold Spot FTW! I still have my Jungle Book book, and many of the stickers intact.

    • “Kids are very good hypocrisy detectors” -> very well-said 🙂

      Wow…so nice to meet another Gold Spot Jungle Book treasure hunter!

  • I disagree. They never engaged in any form of activity with me. I still had an inclination for arts and cultural activity. In the blistering heat of Saudi Arabia, I still used to take my cycle out. And I did all that just because I wasn’t allowed to be a couch potato or use the computer whenever I felt like. My dad was strict with me but not with my sister. She turned out to be the lethargic one. Same house, different results. It all boils down to the upbringing.

    • From the rest of your comment, I don’t think you are disagreeing with me at all.

      • Wasn’t the point being made in the post about “your kids will be like what they see you do”?

        • Yes, kids are more inclined to accept upbringing through actions more than through words. But this is a generalization and there will always be many exceptions, such as where upbringing through language without reaffirming action will still get results. To put it in different words, what is more likely to result in a desired behavior/trait in your child – talking or action? I’d say the latter. This was, however, only one point in the post, not the theme.

          Sorry I had not understood your first comment correctly so I stand corrected.