In recent years, many people have debated the role of parents and what it takes to raise successful children. Some have maintained that parents have little power to determine the sort of adults their offspring become, adding it’s what kids experience outside the home–in the company of their peers–that matters most. However, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have proposed a theory which argues that soccer moms and Little League dads do matter in determining how successful a child will become.
In order for children to gain the intelligence needed to compete, though, humans needed a longer developmental period to allow the brain time to become more sophisticated and the individual to gain experience. Geary and Flinn propose that parenting became the means by which offspring were afforded the opportunity to gain this experience. “Parenting not only provides for a child’s basic needs, it also provides a protective context where children can practice and refine–often by interacting with peers–the social and intellectual skills they will need to compete successfully in adulthood,” Geary explains. “Children who don’t get this type of help from parents or other kin are at a real disadvantage.”
“Social competition is still very much a part of society, but it has evolved beyond basic needs,” Flinn indicates. “Among the items humans compete for today is social status. Parents are sensitive to the status of their children as compared to others. By providing that cradle of support, parents allow their children the opportunity to find and exploit their strengths. They want their children to interact with their peers. Understanding how to form friendships and alliances is a critical skill for social success.”
While Geary and Flinn agree that youngsters’ peers influence their personalities, they insist that parents do matter. “Children need parents,” Geary says. “They need them to train, educate, and demonstrate how to compete and succeed in society. There’s no other way to develop that social context without the family.
Many of us see that depression among young people is now so bad that many have effectively had their childhood stolen from them. Society is making children stressed, forcing them to grow up too early and sexualising them. And hence there needs to be a review of the way children are treated.
“I think there are a lot of reasons and some of them are to do with society and the way in which we push young children into almost adult-like decisions and role models,” he said.
At the end it is really an individual thing but clearly there is a whole way in which childhood is being sexualised through advertising, through products,” he said.
Dr Freier says advertising can affect how children see the world. “We need to let children be children and not steal their childhood away from them for whatever reason,” he said.
“I think we need to help children develop that deeper sense of well-being that is more than just defined by being a consumer.”
Dr Freier admits there are no simple solutions to such a complex problem. However he says society needs to look closely at possible solutions.
“There may well be things that we could do more helpfully as a society to benefit children in their development,” he said.
In many of the discussions many people were commenting about how confronted they feel by taking their primary-school-aged children to school and seeing quite exploited images of women on billboard advertising and trying to explain how that fits into the world to young children.
I think there are some things as a society that we all witness and observe happening but we need to find out what impact these things have.
When we think of a family, we start with the “Guest with a capital G” as Rector Major, Fr. Pascual Chavez put it we need to begin with God whom we often think is outside the family. He is part of the family and its meaning system. In fact it God who puts everything together for us to have a good environment to grow especially for the children.
Secondly, we have the grandparents who play a vital role in moulding a child’s personality. Their sense of direction, their sense of history helps the child to form a security system. This makes the child grow with ease and with an assurance that he/she is part of a great humankind that has a long history.
Similarly, there are brothers and sisters, relatives of the family and even guests who are able to have a definite role to play in the life of a child from that family.
Unfortunately in the more recent times this linkages between various members of the family or people who are close to the family and who brought about positive changes have diminished or have been cut off. As a result of which we are witnessing the sad plight of these children.