Extended Childhood

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Registered: 09-26-2009
Extended Childhood
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Thu, 07-01-2010 - 11:18am

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Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Thu, 07-01-2010 - 12:58pm
In dire circumstances, I'm sure they could. The question is, would we WANT them to be. "Lord of the Flies", or even "High Wind in Jamaica" anyone?
Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Thu, 07-01-2010 - 1:24pm

DS was an Eagle at 15 so he'd have some basic skills others may not have,

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-09-2009
Thu, 07-01-2010 - 3:05pm

<<>>

I'm pretty sure that 130 or more years ago, when children were expected to be living adult lives by their mid-teens, that the childhood years leading up to that point had been heavy-duty training for that eventuality. And they weren't training the children because of some principle, but out of necessity. We don't have to get our kids prepared to be grown-ups by their mid-teens, so we don't. Just like we don't have to be prepared to be middle-aged by the time we've reached our thirties, anymore.

Also, those 15 and 16 yr old "adults" had a lot of family support. They were usually living with either their parents and extended family, or their in-laws (if they were a married female). They were more "adults-in-training" than full-fledged adults, and their pecking order within their particular household was generally pretty low.

Avatar for ribrit
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2001
Thu, 07-01-2010 - 8:35pm
Mine could. I was by that age. My mom was in the hospital from when I was 13 until 16 or so. My dad would work and then head to the hospital. I was living on my own by 17 and off to college then. I worked to pay for everything from school lunches to shoes to pencils from 13 yrs old on.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2003
Fri, 07-02-2010 - 12:42am

My 16 yo. probably could. He will be off to college in a year and plans to live in another city. I want him to be fully prepared by that point to live on his own, so we have been preparing him for the last few years. He just learned how to use a

Linda
mom to
Alex (16), Rachel (14), Matthew (12)


iVillage Member
Registered: 10-16-1999
Fri, 07-02-2010 - 8:47am

Could they have survived at 15 or 16 pretty much on their own? Probably. But the mature thought processes weren't there to keep them from making really horrible decisions. Those 15 and 16 y/os who carried their weight like adults 130 years ago did not have the legal standing to act on their own as adults, and they didn't get to make a whole lot of important decisions - they simply worked like adults. And in some situations it wasn't all that long ago that kids did that. My grandfather became very sick when my father was 12, died when he was 14. My father and his brother (who is 2 years older) pretty much ran the farm and supported my grandmother and their two younger sisters at 14 and 16 y/o while still going to high school (both of them graduated with honors, my dad in 1954). Today that situation would probably be seen as some form of child abuse, but then it was called doing what it takes to ensure the survival of the family.

I think the bigger issue with "extended childhood" is that kids are not expected to take responsibility for themselves or expected to earn all of the expensive toys that they want, so they have no concept of work and the value of things, even when they get to be 19 or 20 y/o. If I had it to do over again, I'd have expected my 3 y/o to pick up his toys (with my help) rather than just waiting until he went to bed and then do it myself... waiting until he was 10 to do that sort of household chores was way too long - he'd developed way too many bad habits by then.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-26-2009
Fri, 07-02-2010 - 12:33pm

One of the points the author made in the book was that they were ADULTS, not quasi-adults. One example was

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Fri, 07-02-2010 - 12:45pm
...my grandpa who came here from Poland at 16, alone, no money, just knowing 7 languages and ready to work...no, I seriously doubt ds17 could handle something that drastic right now...
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-09-2009
Fri, 07-02-2010 - 1:19pm

<<>>

I'm sure that there were exceptions to the rule, just are there are today. However, most of these 15 and 16 yr old "adults" still lived with family. They were not given the most responsibility, nor was their opinion given the most merit. The older, more experienced adults were still "in charge".

<<>>

Of course. I already stated in my earlier post that the years preceding their entry into adulthood were heavy-duty training. Another side-effect of childhood toil, and adulthood beginning by mid-teens was a much shortened life-expectancy. In 1880, average life-expectancy was 40.5 yrs (http://eh.net/encyclopedia/article/haines.demography). Most people were already feeling old and tired out by the time they were 30. Is that better than today, when people can reasonably expect to be active and able in their 60s and 70s?

<<>>

I need examples of how you think that they are lacking. I had similar concerns about my own step-kids (no chores, lots of stuff given to them, often rude or a lack of gratitude shown). Turns out that they were just fine (both moved out when they were 18), and that maybe I should have given them more credit. Just because their own upbringing, and the level of responsibility placed on them, is different from your own youthful experience doesn't mean that they will struggle appreciably when it's time for them to leave the nest.

You know, you aren't the first person to think that the younger generation are going to heck in a handbasket:

"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for
authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place
of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their
households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They
contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties
at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

ATTRIBUTION: Attributed to SOCRATES by Plato, according to William L.
Patty and Louise S. Johnson, Personality and Adjustment, p. 277
(1953)."

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Fri, 07-02-2010 - 2:58pm

What is meant by the term "adult"? Does it mean someone who can support himself financially, i.e. get himself to a job and home again, earn his keep, feed himself the basics, and manage to keep a roof over his head? Sure, it's possible for some people to do that at 16yo. Others never learn how to do it. The man who drinks his money away and avoids his responsibilities to his family is nothing new - Irish literature alone is full of that.

To me, adulthood is about a lot more than paying your own way. Adulthood means being emotionally mature, having an understanding of the world at large, engaging creatively with society, understanding that people have different motivations, being able to expect things of people that are appropriate to *their* experiences of life (not just your own). I've known people who thought they were mature at the age of 20 because they were paying their own way through college, but made absurd demands on other people emotionally (and still do). I know people who paid their way through college but have been divorced more than once, don't speak to their extended family, and haven't raised their kids to manage their way out of a paper bag, because they don't know what's important to focus their attention on.

Giving my kids the room to develop emotionally and intellectually has been very important to me, because I can support them financially now and teach them how to support themselves financially later; but once they're out of my house, I'll lose a lot of the opportunity to teach them how to evaluate their choices in life (whether that's high school or college classes, living situations, jobs, how they spend their time), to expect more of themselves and less of others, to give to other people with less reserve than they'd like, to rely on their own intellectual and emotional resources while enjoying mutually interdependent relationships. Those are among the many things that make an *adult* - not just the ability to pay your own way.

Kelly

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