In my travels to other countries of the world, I was impressed with some of the cultural attitudes towards children that I observed. In Asia, and Europe I witnessed a generalized acceptance of the work involved with child rearing. These cultures also seemed to emphasize the productive development of children at all costs. Here in America, I have noticed two conflicting attitudes towards children. First, one that is deceptively pro-kids: the exploitation of children as consumers; a glut of toymakers, snack manufacturers, and specialized stores advertise relentlessly to our youngest and most impressionable audience with disregard to anything but making a profit. As a result, I think greedy children are accepted as an inevitable consequence of a thriving U.S. economy. Will the greed so accepted in childhood adversely affect their decisions in the business or political world when they are adults? I have also witnessed a pretense of support for children in contests where there are no losers. Teachers and administrators of schools and clubs have developed activities that belie the concept of competition. So now, why should anyone have to work to develop skills when they are taught in their early years that they will never fail? I believe children need to fail sometimes, if only to appreciate the bliss of achievement.
On the other hand, I have observed a collective outlook in Americans that children are a bother. The dread many people have of sharing an airplane trip with children is one example. Children are noisy, active and sometimes cranky because they are children. I have even heard parents, in the presence of their own children; complain about the inconvenience of their offspring. In Japan, I walked into a china shop with my two year old daughter and a pretty lady in a kimono rushed over to me and scooped up my child to entertain her while I shopped. Contrast this experience to a sign I’ve seen in many shops that read “unattended children will be sold”. That humor is lost to me when I think of a small child who has just learned to read and believes that statement with a feeling of worthlessness.
What happens on a daily basis now, affects the future of America. I believe that children are our greatest resource. I personally know many adults who value the potential of our young. These people work hard to make sure their little ones understand the basic values in life with proper nurturing and teaching. However, I have also met a many Americans who are missing the point and undermining the potential of their own children and children in general. I believe that just as other cultures realize, significance to the development of our children is vital to the foundation of our American culture.
Children are the decision makers of the future; I believe the opportunity to cultivate them is in our hands today.
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