Gone are the days of silent children standing still in a line at school. They no longer blindy accept just any order from adults. They have opinions and a voice. I often hear parents, or grandparents, or the gentleman at the grocery store complaining that kids today aren’t the same. Back in their day, kids did what they were told without question.
It’s not that children have changed. Society has changed, and frankly, that is a very good thing. Growing up, my house was silent. My father believed that children should not be heard and we tiptoed around silently until he would leave. Then everyone, kids and mother included, would run around to practice piano or listen to some music. My mother refused to tell anyone, especially my father, for whom she voted because she remembered a time when a woman’s vote was controlled by her husband. My grandmother rarely voted because that was a man’s job. Other families recall stories of not being able to ride at the front of the bus or drink from the same water fountains or pursue the same jobs or education. Abuse from those in control was accepted and not spoken of.
The “good old days” were only good for those who held the control. Children were subservient because subservience was modeled. Wives deferred to their husbands, who deferred to their bosses. Only a small portion of the population had rights and everyone else was kept in line. The paternal hierarchy was held in place and the rest of society amounted to little more than property.
We no longer see legal slavery in our country. All adults now have the legal right to vote. People are supposedly equal to one another and we are seeing minorities step up and expect to be treated as equals. While discrimination still exists, on the surface no one questions an adult who expects to be treated as a person.
Children haven’t changed. Society has changed for the better. Fewer people live their lives in fear and submission. While society hasn’t yet reached the point where children, the very future of our civilization and species, are treated as people, we are closer. I am happy to listen to my children’s thoughts, to work together with them to solve problems, and to share our journeys together.
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Wow. I never quite thought of it in those terms before. Thank you for a very thought-provoking and well thought out essay. I’m going to think about this one for a while and then discuss it with my almost grown children.