The subject of childhood has usually been flawed by humans' subjectivity about children, which results in even more ignorance and insufficient research on children and childhood.
Causes of Misunderstanding Children
- Children can't express themselves properly, because of their limited knowledge and experience, lower intelligence, poor verbal and logical skills (e.g. mixing facts with fantasies), etc.
- When we fail to see life properly from a child's perspective, imagining how it feels at the beginning of "the road," we treat children as adults (just as we ignorantly treat animals as humans sometimes), from our older "midway" perspective. This is usually the result of lack of contact with, listening to, and learning about children. We treat their
- We forget or are unaware of the advantages and disadvantages of being a child. Children enjoy carefree pleasures, free imagination about a world they are yet to see, dependence on adults, etc. On the other hand, they suffer fear, weakness, adult mistreatment, etc.
- Our emotional attachment to the past and the good/bad memories we had during our own childhood, that shaped our lifelong character, make us subjectively think of children. Having those memories at an early stage of life, with a child photographic memory, makes strong lasting impressions on our brains difficult to remove. This makes us want to "re-watch" that past in our children, like an old film we never tire of playing, that we'd be upset if it has even slightly changed.
- When we try to understand children we recall our own childhood, for guidance, which causes memory bias, confusing our past with their present.
- We worry too much about our own future interests, that will fall into the hands of today's children one day. Our fear makes us forget that the future will definitely be different and difficult to predict accurately.
-We even worry about our future legacy & image that will survive us, that we want to stay flawless after we are gone. So we passively treat our present, that our children is part of, to keep the status quo.
- We misunderstand children because we instinctively sympathize with & love to control the weak, as much as we idolize and love to follow the "strong." The mere appearance and behavior of children compel us to feel so. Thus we automatically love/control them, without trying to learn enough about their nature. Their weakness has many elements:
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In the future, people will be born as fully mature adults without having to go through all the pain-staking, hazardous stages of childhood. Until then children will always be children. A child will be subject to all sorts of misunderstanding and persecution. This is because children's needs are different from adults', and since society is controlled by adults, children will always be a suffering minority. In many parts of the world, children are merely treated as slaves, cattle or personal properties. If less misfortunate, they become entertainers or love toys.
Some Childhood Aspects
Children are not good by nature: they are only angels and demons in progress. We shouldn't judge them until they grow up.
Any good in their character could equally hide evil or good behind, vices or virtues. Any virtue a child has is unstable, because it's founded on weakness, nurtured by ignorance, restricted by dependence and lack of freedom. ("The essence of virtue is self-control," as Antisthenes the Cynic said. Children cannot be virtuous.)
We can't consider them evil either. Just as we treat the mentally-retarded differently, so with children: we shouldn't punish them the way we punish adults, although they still need some punishment, otherwise they become worse and dangerous to themselves and society.
Play is a pleasure and a necessity. When cubs, puppies and kittens fight or feign fights, they indirectly rehearse for later the future battles that are more sophisticated .
Even though adults forget it, children know by nature that play is the norm, and life is just a game. Working for money is a duty, not a pleasure. When money is available, work should be for pleasure only, not for extra money, pride, habit, tradition, etc., as it keeps distancing us from the meaning of life, happiness. The distance between work, play & leisure should be minimum.
We ignore it because it's partial and latent in children, and because we are ignorant and prudish about sexuality in general. There is a lack of studies on child libido. Strangely, it's even a taboo subject in many civilized countries, which is irrational because, sooner or later, we have to face what was secretly developing during childhood, we have to complete what builds early in life, we have to delve into our own complexes and roots in that faraway past "era" of childhood, when knowledge was incomplete. Treating many psychological illnesses simply starts by understanding its roots, in childhood.
Children have a low sex drive, so they DO have their own different libido, as many psychologists explained. So whenever they have freedom, they do have sex, to satisfy that libidinous urges, even without telling us. They enjoy it too, even more than many childhood games, and definitely more than many school lessons. If we order them not to have it without explanation, they will refuse or reluctantly accept out of fear, suppressing their developing sexuality that later in life turns them into complex adults who act immaturely in sex.
Our obsession with child abuse and rape is strange. The way we treat the subject based on traditional and religious motives is not solving the problem. (In an outrageous Oprah Winfery's episode, she was praising with the naive audience a woman, hosted on the show, for TAKING A MAN'S LIFE -- her boyfriend -- because he "intended" to have sex with her child!!!)
Children are always sweet/cute/innocent etc. to us, as long as they are unarmed defenseless creatures who, once they stand up for themselves and become strong, lose their sweetness and we don't like them as before. Empowering children is inevitable, however we fear it. We can empower children gradually, in most fields of life, at no specific age and with no strict rules required, as long as they are eligible for the following:
Once they get any of the above advantages, they should be treated as adults in the respective field. With power comes responsibility, and accordingly punishment and reward.