Do you feel that children should be sheltered from unhappiness?
We try to protect our children from the harsh realities of life. Is this the right approach or should they be allowed to face life as it is?
A parent needs to have common sense AND a solid understanding of child development AND a close enough relationship with each child in order to know how how and whether any "harsh realities" are "introduced to them". A parent also needs to have the good sense and maturity and understanding of how to have a strong family to know that there are some "harsh realities" that one can refuse to allow in the home.
Many parents either under-estimate or over-estimate a child's intellectual maturity while often, and sometimes also, having little understanding of how/when (and sometimes whether) emotional maturity develops in any one child.
One may say there are "harsh realities" but then there are "ugly realities". The harsh ones can be something like having a very sick family member/grandparent. The ugly ones are things like what's out there more and more today - drugs, crime, abuse, negligence, homelessness, much of the stuff that is "realities" but doesn't necessarily or always have to become part of a child's/family's world (at least while children are young enough that their world is still largely their home and school).
My general belief is that childhood and youth can be compared to a type of incubation or, say, how bird's eggs "work" - if the process of "incubation" is cut short then all is generally not entirely well for whoever/whatever was "incubating".
"Protecting" doesn't, though, mean keeping all unpleasantness hidden from the child's view/experience. It's up to the parent to kind of edit (and sometimes "clean up") some difficult matters and understand how much a child of any age may want/need to know (or prefer not to, at least at the time).
Children who have been adequately but properly protected without being kept completely in the dark (a bad thing) tend to arrive at adulthood strong and able to handle "harsh realities" and/or better handle/understand the "ugly ones".
Children need to be able to trust a parent to be honest (without being ignorant and cruel) if they're not to grow up feeling alone and/or being people who say they "don't trust anybody". (I think most of us have met some of them.) And, even if they don't say it they think it, and it shows.
Some can't think for themselves and only trust what they read in a book by experts. Some listen to everyone and anyone who is not their parent or someone similar to their parent.
BUT, harsh/ugly realities that are in the "wrong dose" at the wrong time are, I think, more damaging.
That is getting tougher today I would imagine for parents. I have no parenting experience to reflect upon. I wonder things with this question. Like what if a child doesn't understand poor for a friend's family economics. Say the friend cannot have a bicycle because his family cannot afford one and the friend was told they are poor by his parents.
But, the friend lives in a house much bigger, there are two cars, and lunches are better because there are potato chips and cookies with them. The first child has a bike, but does not have those good lunches, lives in an apartment, and one family car. Then, those two children ask one or the other mom to explain it. What does that mom do? Tell the child not hers to ask their mom?
What if the children get together and discuss their two answers? How will that affect their lives? Does the age matter or the maturity of the child intellectually?
At a recent family gathering we discussed for some of us five we knew when our parents could not afford nice gifts for Christmas. We got apples in our stockings instead of gifts. But, what age is that discovery made? Two of my younger siblings did not really experience when our family was poorer. One stated they never noticed that. But, as a family we were not as poor when that sibling was raised. Was that a revelation and a learning experience that will affect her/his own parenting in the future?
Sheltering children from unhappiness is cruel for once they are old enough to interact with the rest of the world people will show them the truth about life in this fallen world and the human race.
That said, teaching them by word and deed that love is patient, kind, not envious but happy for others when there is good in their lives, not boastful or proud but considerate of others, is not easily angered because it knows that anger is a killer, that love does not harbor grudging bitternesses, that it does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, that it protects others, offers trust, always hopes for the best in others, and that it perseveres in love toward others when things are difficult rather than failing to continue pray and work toward the good of others is crucial to their happiness.
Of course, they must learn the true definitions of these words if they are to understand the concepts.
Never! I'm very open with my children. I don't shelter them from anything. There are easy common sense, age appropriate ways of explaining anything.
I want my children to grow up prepared for the world, not just the good parts of it. I want them to understand that there is death, hunger, people who hurt others, things we can not fix, and things that will make us uncomfortable.
However we still enjoy life. We don't make everything about the doom and gloom, we just don't hide it if it happens. If a fish dies we tell even our youngest the truth.
It makes it easier for us that there are never issues in the home. My husband and I never yell at each other, and even in our most heated arguments we keep an even tone and communicate. So our children see little to no harsh realities in home unless it is something simple like not being able to afford to do something.
Better to be honest with them, than have to deal with them becoming adults who are unprepared for life.
Each parent determines what is "age appropriate" and the maturity of their child. Some children are scared easily or have nightmares.
For many children their first brush with death is finding out their goldfish has died. (Unless the parents secretly replace them)
Death of a pet is a "teachable moment" for many children.
Ultimately I would rather a child be aware of the realities of life and have some element of "street smarts" than to walk around completely naïve and trusting everyone they come across.
An uninformed child is at a higher risk of being lured away or abused.
You should not shelter them from unhappiness and reality.
Shield them from death, such as making up stories when someone they know dies, and they'll be twice as devastated when someone close dies and they learn the reality.
Shield them from adversity by making things easy, and they will be unwilling to take on challenges because your actions told them you don't think they can do it AND they will be unable to handle failure because they'll give up instead of try again.
Shield them from consequences, and they won't be able to handle being fired for wrongdoing in the workplace or negotiate friendships and marriages as an adult because they did not learn as children what happens when you make mistakes like lie to others, betray their trust or break the rules.
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