Another mother and I were talking the other day. She is about my age, and also has 2 children. We were talking about how things were when we were children versus how things are now for our children. Now granted, I do believe that the amount of violence was always there, we just have more media sources to make us aware of it nowadays, but I definitely believe that times are VERY different.
When I was young (under the age of 10) I would be outside all day with my childhood best friend all day. There were no cell phones then, and we never stayed in one place long, so keeping track of us was not quite so easy. Sure, I had boundaries, but other than that, I was riding my bike all over the place (until the streetlights came on, of course).
I also remember (again, under the age of 10) setting up a lemonade stand at a gas station that is on a busy road. No one found it strange to see two young girls sitting there with our pitcher of lemonade (in fact, we made some decent money! At least enough to buy some candy necklaces...I remember that part, too!)
The economy was different then. Gas was under a dollar per gallon. People weren't so quick to anger and place blame. The saying "it takes a village to raise a child" rang completely true. My childhood holds some very, very good memories.
Fast forward to today. Kids as young as 10 not only have cell phones, they have iPhones. Everyone has a facebook, practically, and we all know when you are behind the safety of a computer screen, it is VERY easy to gain courage, so bullying has changed completely. The economy has taken a hit. People are out of jobs, low on money, and the cost of living is higher than ever. People are stressed and angry. Watching the news, the amount of violence is terrifying. There is no filter. When a murder occurs, the media has no problems capturing the grieving family mourn a tragic loss, nor do investigational shows hesitate to show images of brutalized bodies. You can only shelter your child so much. You want to put them in a bubble and shield them from harm, hate, and ugliness, and I do believe many parents try to do this. But the reality is...this is reality. This is our world right now, and to be quite honest, as a parent of young children, it is very, very scary.
Let's change the subject a bit.
Before I became a parent, I was the best parent in the WORLD. No, really. I believed this. I knew EXACTLY how I was going to be. I had not only my own set of expectations, but I also relied on society's expectations, and was going to incorporate them as much as I could.
I have two children, a 7 year old boy, and a 2 year old girl. We are a little lenient with the sheltering aspect. For example, Ethan LOVES investigational shows, and we let him watch them.
My 7 year old has been through some difficult times, such as the death of Jay's Grandpa and the illness of my sister. He has seen Jay and I struggle through some hard times, he has endured the addition of a sibling at the age of 4 and I'll be honest, if he had had his way then, he would have probably preferred remaining an only child. My 7 year old also has a blankie. Yup. He's had it since birth. It usually is just something he uses at home at bedtime, but occasionally he will take it with him outside of the house. For instance, some mornings, on the way to school, if he is tired he will bring it along for the ride. He has also shed tears over his blankie when it started to unravel. There is NOTHING that can take it's place. He loves that thing. I see no end in sight to him outgrowing it.
My 2 year old (2 1/2, to be more exact) also has a blankie. She is WAY more reliant on hers than Ethan ever was. She also still has her pacifier. If you had asked me at her birth how long I would allow it, I probably would have said 6 months, "before she got too attached." At 6 months, she WAS too attached, so we decided we would wean her off at 1 year. Her first birthday came. Her first birthday went. The pacifier was still there. Okay, so 18 months will be the cut off. Wellllll...how about her 2nd birthday? I can now say at 30 months, she is still going strong. Society CERTAINLY frowns on this, and trust me, people do NOT hold back on letting me know she is "too old" for it. Or even "she'd look prettier without it."
To tie together my two stories, why on earth would I take away something that comforts my children? This world, to me, is a scary place. I don't convey those feelings to them, and I try to educate them as much as I can, but my assistance with their coping skills can only go so far. When Allison is scared or hurt, the FIRST thing she wants is her blankie and her binky. When Ethan is tired and ready to cuddle down for the night, he always makes sure his blankie is with him. He also never forgets it when we go out of town.
Part of the issue with society is everyone is looking to judge. Place blame on someone else so that way it's not on them. I never thought I'd have an almost 3 year old with a pacifier or an almost 8 year old with a blankie, but you know what? I do. And that is perfectly okay with me.