Saturday, September 11, 2010

Children Should Enjoy Being Children

Over the years, it was often heard in Korea that our children are not allowed to be children. In a recent daily newspaper, pictures show students in middle and high school sleeping in class, noting that they are preparing to go to the academies in the evening and getting the necessary shuteye to be wide awake for the real study, preparing for college.
Spending most of their time studying for college, our youngsters are missing a critical time in their life, being children.

In the column "Daily Life and Faith Life" in the Catholic Times, the writer tells us that when a child acts like grownups  most adults will consider it praiseworthy. He asks us if we think that children truly like to do what others consider the grownup thing to do.  Children, he says, are naturally programed to act like children in a world of toys and dolls where reality can't be separated from imagination. They cry when frightened, they easily sulk and do not listen to reason. They brag and cling tenaciously to their possessions, and there is no saying no to any temptation that comes their way. Above all, there is no end to their capacity for curiosity. He believes that it is acting in this way that children grow up to be mature adults, able to distinguish what they should and should not do in society. Little by little they gain responsibility and concern for others.

However, when adults have spent childhood acting like adults, the writer thinks they will often revert to childish ways when they are adults. He quotes a  hermit scholar-priest who  said, " Please let the children be children. Don't hit them when they act frivolously. If they don't act like children when will they? If they grow up acting too much like adults, when they become adults you will be spending a great deal of money for counseling sessions."

The writer says that when he was working in the mental ward of a hospital or in his counseling practice, he often met adults who acted like children. But we can become, he says, too permissive and lacking in discernment, which will tend to form a selfish and egoistical child.  A balanced approach is obviously best. By asking ourselves whether we are healthy adults or child adults who need to act like children, we may gain in this soul-searching a better understanding of what it means, for us and for our children, to grow into an ever-evolving mature adulthood.

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