As the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Christmas sermon bemoaned children’s lack of childhood Philip Johnston in the telegraph asks why adults are treated like children?
But Mr Johnston – both are true, and are two sides of the same coin – a lack of individual independence and increasing dependence on the state.
Children are not allowed to be children anymore – they are rushed into school and away from families. Learning to read and write and formal learning generally happens far too soon. But it isn’t a step towards independence – rather a step towards dependence on schools and being told what to do away from parents. A step towards accepting what others tell them about the world, rather than discovering it for yourself. Children aren’t allowed to play freely and develop in their own personal way – in much the same way that adults are continually bombarded with instructions and fears.
If more children were left to play and spent more time with their families many would end up more independent in the long run, but also more involved in their own family life. The problem for those who see themselves as responsible for us all it that then people are less susceptible to being told what to do and how to live their lives. Those in authority are then perpetually afraid that something will go wrong and they will be blamed.
Those of us who want to take responsibility for our own lives and our families are increasingly pressurised to do things the state way, usually regardless of any scientific evidence for or against any lifestyle choice.
There is a growing body of evidence that bedsharing is as safe as a baby sleeping in a cot given certain safety requirements – but fears of SIDs distorts the evidence and cosleeping is seen by many as unsafe and by some as abusive.
Those of us who take full responsiblity for our children’s education are also seen by some as irresponsible despite decades of evidence from the US that shows above average outcomes for home ecucated children. We wish to provide an education that is personalised for our children, and may use a variety of approaches outside the experience of those educated and working in schools. As a result we have endured a year of accusations of child abuse, mental illness and huge pressures to conform. We face an uncertain future, with legislation pending that will mean that parents are no longer responsible for their own children’s education and require an annual license to maintain responsibility for their own children.