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Raising a Child in the 21st Century

Updated on June 24, 2013
Here is a Georgia family in the late 1940's
Here is a Georgia family in the late 1940's | Source

Growing up in the 20th Century and Before

Remember the days when your mother would shout out to you, “Be home before dark” as you bolted out the door to play with your friends? Do you remember the days when sticks and stones did break bones; and so did climbing trees, jumping ramps on your bike (without a helmet or pads), and playing contact sports in your front yard barefooted? Unfortunately, those days are long gone. Playing outside was a normal behavior for children who grew up last century and centuries before. We got hurt, and we healed. We learned from our mistakes the painful, yet fun and exciting way. We would brag about our scars.

We grew up living in unlocked houses with lead paint, riding in cars without seatbelts, and swinging from ropes, flopping into the nearby lake or river. We played with cap guns, had pocket knives, and occasionally settled our differences with a fist fight. There was generally only 1 house phone, and we had to share it. We were disciplined when we misbehaved, and sometimes that included spankings. For many of us, spankings and other forms of discipline would be considered child abuse today. We weren’t entitled to a bike or any other new fangled toy on the market. We had chores, and earned the money to buy what we wanted, or we minded our parents and possibly, just possibly, received what we desired as a birthday or holiday gift.

We were taught proper etiquette, table manners, and respectfully addressed our elders as Mr. or Mrs. Our parents and teachers worked together and communicated often. Our friends and neighbors took part in our upbringing. We actually knew our neighbors, and all of the children were raised by the community, so there was always an eye watching, and an ear listening. We were also taught not to talk to strangers, to respect our elders, and to share.

We had a childhood.

Consequences in Spoiling Children

Here we have a 19th century family in Illinois
Here we have a 19th century family in Illinois | Source

Generation X, Y, and Cupcake: Generation Wimp?

Times have drastically changed; some for the good and some for the bad. We have become over protective of our kids. For example, being clean is important for many reasons including keeping your family free from germs. However, we may have become too dependent on items like hand sanitizer. What many people don’t realize is that too much protection from germs will lead to the failure of the body’s natural immune system to work properly, making us more vulnerable to illnesses. This concept is similar to a vaccination. When a child is vaccinated, they are given a small dose of the disease so that their natural anti-bodies will fight it keeping the disease from returning as a full blown infection.

Drugs for newly acceptable mental health conditions seem to be handed out to children quite frequently. In some cases, it just may be that they need more love and attention. Hyperactive behavior in a child could indicate he or she would be healthier, mentally, if involved in sports or the arts. Please understand, I realize that there are legitimate concerns where it is absolutely necessary to give a child prescription medication. However I find it hard to believe that our kids need so much medication just to have the ability to pay attention in school.

Modern times reflect that kids lack adult supervision, become latch key kids, or are being raised by their grandparents. Work ethic has dramatically declined, and the lack of appreciation for gifts and opportunities has risen. Child obesity and the lack of physical activity have put the health of our kids in danger. I believe this is a much more serious issue than falling off of a bike or playing outside barefooted. Unfortunately, the local school systems have their hands tied due to lack of funding. Sadly, many districts have been forced to limit or eliminate physical education, arts and music, and sports in schools.

School boys in the 1940's


Our kids and grandkids lack discipline, structure, and ambition. They are our future, and unless we change the way we are raising them, we could be in deep trouble as a society. Motivate and encourage your children. Show your children they are loved by setting boundaries, setting positive examples, and setting a structured, healthy lifestyle. It is important to raise your children to be disciplined and self sufficient. Earning one’s way gives a feeling of self accomplishment, self esteem, and ambition to continue to strive for higher goals. The greatest achievers are those who are disciplined.

(KJV) Proverbs 22:15

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him.”

I am thrilled that you have found my work to be of interest, and I certainly hope the read was enlightening. I am interested in reading your thoughts and opinions on the piece, so please feel free to leave your remarks in the comments section below.

"Be kind to one another" ~ Ellen

God Bless You ~ Margaret Sullivan


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