Warning: Choking Hazard
It is dangerous
to be a child in this day and age. A lot of things have
changed since you were there… especially the predators.
They have to change – those things that prey on the young
– because down through history parents have been great at
taking care of pretty much anything that threatened the
safety and welfare of their children. Like childhood
diseases. We hardly give them a thought anymore, except
to try to keep up with current inoculations. And as for
wild things sneaking into the cave at night to see what
they can haul off…
Well, most of
us don't live in caves anymore, either. But the rapid
advance of our modern lifestyles and conveniences have
brought along complacencies that are largely dependant on
the false sense of securities we have built up for
ourselves. Phrases like, "Kids grow up faster these days
– they're tougher," are substantiated by the advent of the
Information Age, which makes anything and
everything available at the turn of a switch to anyone and
everyone. Including children.
But it isn't
the children who have changed… only the times.
toddler will put a small mysterious object in the mouth to
test what it might be, just as quickly today as one would
two thousand years ago. And a teenager will pledge
allegiance to a friend over family just as quickly as one
would back in the middle ages. Times change. People
don't. The only difference is, that parents today satisfy
themselves with the fact that they have adequately paid
someone (preferably professionals) to watch over their
toddlers throughout the day while they are at work, or
that their errant teens are only responding (quite
naturally) to what is now referred to as "the rebellious
years." But to think that others can take the place of a
parent – no matter how well paid – is a fallacy only our
modern times have fallen prey to. That's because there is
no eye like the watchful eye of a parent.
No one knows a
child better than a parent, and no one can reach that
child better than a parent. Why is that so? Because
children are made in the image of their parents. That's
the nature of things. Humans come with the incredible
power to "create in their own image," and they do – and
are continuing to do so – every day of the year. For
better or for worse. "In his image created he, him.
Male and female, created he them." And we are
continuing to do that, every day of our lives. But the
truth is, the changing times are affecting the parents as
much as the children, these days. We – like the children
– tend to believe everything we see in print, or hear on
TV. Never in all of history has the individual opinion
been so far down on society's "priority list." What does
the doctor have to say? What does the school recommend?
And what did they say in that latest pole taken by CNN?
are like ourselves. That's why we are so attached to them
when they first come along. Add to that the fact that one
spends nearly every waking hour with them when they first
arrive, it's no wonder we know so exactly what "makes them
tick." Any mysteries we run into can usually be answered
by a spouse who recognizes the off-beat characteristic
from his or her side of the family. Family traits and
tastes perpetuate themselves. But it is interesting to
note that most problems faced by today's families are
brought on by the subtle process of becoming
"de-sensitized" from these natural things. A process that
happens almost subconsciously.
happens because today's parents are spending less and less
time with their children. It started off years ago, when
moms left for the working world, but it has carried on
much farther since then. And for reasons which hardly
sound threatening at all. There is simply more for
parents and children to do separately these days.
Sports, entertainment, and social activities for
respective age groups are mostly what keep people busy
outside the family circle. Add to this the advent of
microwave cooking, and family members don't even have to
keep the same mealtimes when they are all on different
So, does this
mean we should go back to the "way things were in the good
old days?" No, it just means we have to adjust the
changes to meet the needs of today's families. Because
the truth is, most of us like the progression, or we would
have stopped it a long time ago. But in order to do this,
we need to take a closer look at those changes.
Most of the
problems encountered in our modern lifestyles can be
linked back to one major oversight… nobody is watching
the children anymore. Not because we don't care. It just
isn't entirely necessary. That's because – for the most
part – we have traded this old-fashioned pastime for
providing them with something to watch or be occupied
with, themselves. Which frees up busy parents and daycare
workers to the point that only "half an eye" is needed to
keep things running smoothly. As children grow older, one
doesn't even need that. But the new method has long-term
Over a period
of time, it has a tendency to "desensitize" both the
parent and the child. After awhile it becomes more and
more difficult to pick up on each other's personality and
habits enough to be able to detect – much less predict –
what they are really up to. Which doesn't matter too much
as long as everyone is behaving. It's when they're not
that misunderstandings begin to flare at alarming rates.
Which also have a tendency to go hand-in-hand with a lack
of communication. Angry outbursts, hurt feelings, and
misbehavior patterns that seem to hang on no matter what
is tried, are often the result of these.
most parents are aware of the choking hazards that
threaten toddlers (and take care to prevent those
incidents from occurring) not many realize that there are
similar hazards that an older child can "choke on" later
on, that could have been prevented by the same kind of
watchfulness. The standard rule of not letting them take
"too much too fast" applies just as well to a teenager as
it does for a tot… they're just dabbling in different
things. In the same way, the old rhyme that a "stitch in
time will save nine," is true. And whoever came up with
the philosophy that "an ounce of prevention is worth a
pound of cure," was nearing the pinnacles of wisdom when
it comes to avoiding catastrophes. The real secret to
avoiding pitfalls in any society – including our own -- is
still to learn how to recognize warning signs and do
something about them before things happen.
Here's a list
of things that will help:
FIND OUT SPECIFICALLY WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE
DOING. Vague generalities like, "Just playing
outside," or "At a friend's house," could include
activities such as starting fires or watching R-rated
movies. So before you answer with an equally vague,
"That's nice, dear," it might be important to find out
exactly what they were playing, and who's house they were
DON'T ALLOW SECRETS. Unless it's a
holiday where presents are exchanged, children should not
be keeping secrets from their parents. Nor should they be
allowed to keep parents out of their room if they so
choose. It's one thing to give a courteous knock on a
closed door before entering, but any child who knows a
parent can and will move freely in and out of their
room, will not only be careful of what they keep there,
they will also be careful how they behave there.
DON'T LET FEELINGS OVERRIDE YOUR FAMILY'S
STANDARD OF CONDUCT. Being tired, or angry, or not
feeling well, is no excuse for bad behavior. You can be
sympathetic toward these conditions (and even ward off an
incident if you see them coming beforehand) but never
withhold correction because of them. Nurturing
self-control has many more benefits than nurturing
WATCH OUT FOR THE SAMLL STUFF. Do
you detect a hint of disrespect in a response, or a lack
of cooperation in trying to get along? Better to deal
with these things immediately, because – like weeds – they
are much harder to get rid of later on.
MAKE A BIG DEAL OUT OF THE MAJOR STUFF.
Violence, stealing, smoking or experimenting with drugs
and pre-marital sex, are extremely serious offenses… and
they deserve extremely serious consequences. Extending
periods of "time out" or "being grounded" is not enough.
These behaviors call for a form of restitution and – in
some cases – even a complete change of environment and
peer involvement. If you don't, society will do it for
you sooner or later, and the end results can be much more
devastating than it would have been coming from you. Take
these matters too lightly, and your children will, too.
PROVIDE ACCEPTABLE OUTLETS FOR ENERGY AND
ASPIRATIONS. Many problem behaviors stem from a lack
of supervision coupled with boredom. It is better for
children to be involved in too much than too little, and a
structured activity beats long hours with nothing to do
but the "same old things."
BE PHYSICAL. Touch, hug, and play
with your children often. These are natural "barometers"
for true feelings, and will delight them no matter how old
they are. This kind of interaction can also defuse bad
attitudes faster than a lecture… sort of like turning a
light on in a dark room.
predators are more subtle than those we find in history.
They are poisonous messages smuggled in through mixed
media that undermines the values of family living. They
are the ability of your children to keep bad company for
long periods of time before you realize it, and then
resent you for taking them away. They are the natural
wonders of nature pushed so far back from our modern
cities that few children can discover it for themselves,
anymore. They are too many things in exchange for a sense
together over extended periods, these subtle enemies have
the power to choke the life out of normal healthy children
and leave them weakened in many ways. But they are no
match for a normal healthy parent who knows how to handle
them and what to watch out for. You do it by making
yourself more aware of what you are really giving
to your children. And if you should discover a
"warning: choking hazard" sign on one of those
Don't buy it.
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