The word teenager didn't exist before the mid 1900's. Early in this century was when the inevitable creation of the teenager began even though there wasn't an actual word for it; it was when the industrial revolution, the dawn of the automobile, government legislators, radical reformers, educators, and emerging advise and parenting strategies came together to form a new group of humans whether knowingly or unintentionally it happened and teens emerged with a whole new perspective on life, liberties and the pursuit of fun. Before this time there were adults and children, there were one room school houses that integrated everyone, there was less focus on labor laws and rights of children-I am not saying child labor is right or acceptable, the point I'm trying to make here is that children were allowed to work, encouraged to work, in-fact it was required of them.They were given the opportunity to learn and grow on an adult level, encouraged to find meaningful work and accomplish it. They were taught to be an integral part of society and how to effectively live and grow into adults
Enter today's youth, and you have an ever downward progression toward adolescence, teenagers, and young adults who can not do anything for themselves, have to be given the opportunity to have ample time to have fun in their lives, ample time to have idle time to just "be a kid", indulged by their parents(protectors and providers) who do everything and anything for their little dears until they are old enough and accomplished enough to stand on their own two feet and become productive members of society. Adolescents and teens
The degradation of responsibility has trickled in from the mid 1900's, with oh so many steps put in place in order to protect our youth...people have protected our youth to the point of making them one of the most undervalued and under-respected members of society. Today youth are not allowed to work, they are only allowed to learn what they are told to learn, they are taught that they don't count and can't be productive because they have to play until they are about 26 which is now the magic age that most adults are able to stand on their own and be productive whether they like it or not. In my grandparents age and to some extent even my parents, kids had to participate in life, they worked in their homes, they worked for friends families, on farms, in stores, many found jobs in their life, not to make money to indulge themselves with wants, but instead to bring home extra money necessary for the whole family to live. "Teenagers" were getting married, having families, holding down jobs, joining the military(which at 18, they are still adult enough to make that choice if they want, but not other adult choices because they can't possibly know what they want to do with their lives).
It seems like I have been rather harsh on youth and their self indulgent lives...how did they get there? Parents and other well meaning adults in the world...they have been on a never ending downward spiral into the depths of safety, protection, enabling, and in some cases just doing basically everything for their children and the lives of those around because they can't possibly be able to complete that task, without some kind of adult intervention. I don't completely blame the kids, they have been taught and conditioned to believe that they are unequipped for the adult tasks.
If you are struggling with the idea that your children are more capable than society is deeming possible and would like to see your children head down the path to discover how big the world is and exactly how much they can do, accomplish and be on their own, this is a great book to read. There is also a blog (themoatblog)written with Kay's wonderful insight and many other guest bloggers with wonderful information to offer parents.
We will be employing this experiment into our lives to help us as parents, as well as getting our children to learn to love work and service of others.