Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Taking Back Childhood

Taking Back Childhood

"The true measure of a nation's standing is how well it attends
to its children--their health and safety, their material security,
their education and socialization, and their sense of being loved,
valued, and included in the families and societies into which they are
born." According to the 2007 UNICEF report, quoted in Nancy Carlsson-
Paige's Taking Back Childhood: Helping Your Kids Thrive in a Fast-
Paced, Media-Saturated, Violence-filled world, in a ranking of twenty-
one nations the United States came in next to last. America in the
twenty-first century is not a child friendly country. And the children
dwelling on the wrong side of the largest wealth gap since 1929 are
not the only ones leading precarious lives. According to Carlsson-
Paige all kids are put in peril by factors such as:
*a commercial culture in which children are taught to value themselves
and each other by what they have and marketers undermine parent-child
relationships in order to sell more merchandise;
*a violent culture which encourages use of force to get one's way
while undermining empathy for others and frightening many kids,
undermining the security they need to thrive;
*a media saturated culture in which even infants and toddlers are
plunked down in front of screens and advertised single use toys that
enable only scripted play take the place of open ended materials that
empower children's creativity and social skills...
As Carlsson-Paige shows us, although there is a lot of bad stuff
being done to our youngest generation we caring adults are far from
helpless to counteract these societal evils. She gives plenty of ways
we can prevail and protect. There are two things I especially like
about this really user friendly book. The author uses her knowledge
of developmental psychology to help us understand the ways children
understand situations that may be not obvious and may seem counter
intuitive. She also talks about the need for activism on the part of
the larger society as well as the individual family. She includes a
comprehensive list of organizations that have this as a mandate.
I would recommend Taking Back Childhood to every adult who cares
about kids.
On a personal note, last week was a fabulous celebration of Pride
(LGBT) Week up to UMaine. I loved the presentation by Kristen Beck
who is a 20 year Navy Seal who came out as transgender. She was
amazing and inspiring. She challenged us to not stand by when someone
is being hurt for being who she/he is by thinking "If not me, who? If
not now, when?" I was lucky enough to talk to her personally at a
dinner after her talk. She made me feel like we all have a role to
play in ending prejudice.
A great big shout out goes out to Kristen and the wonderful, gutsy
work she is doing.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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