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.