As a society we are pontificating about how to stop school violence. The focus is on shootings at the moment, but there are other forms of harm that are rampant in our schools. In these ‘debates’ the question is often given, “What are your solutions?!” The reality is there is a cost of stealing the soul of childhood from our kids. Shootings, bullying, drug abuse, etc. are symptoms of soul robbery. I humbly recommend the following to help restore childhood. I admit this is very boy focus, as that is where the biggest issues exist.
More art. More play.
As both of these dropped over the course of the last 30 years, look at what also increased. True, this could be correlation not causation, but I doubt that. Art & play help kids process, socialize, and learn. It’s a big part in how they learn to interact with the world they live in. Maybe if we stopped robbing what is the soul of being kids, they may not be maladjusted adults. Over the last 27 years I’ve seen a massive drop in kids abilities for imaginative play and also a drop in their ability to get along with their peers. Art gets increasingly dropped as it’s viewed as non-essential, but it’s a huge part in how we process and communicate. Art is very essential to being human.
Change the narrative on marriages. Champion fatherhood.
The break down of family is a significant contributor to mental health and violence. We are reaping the costs of a coupe generations of broken families and fatherless homes. We need a fresh narrative on marriage that sees its joys and delights. That it can be done, healthy, and amazing. We need dads who are passionate about their families. And we need to view both of those things as good, ideal even. Children are a reflection of us. If they’re more violent, bullying, and destructive, we need to do a better job modeling.
End organized sports for kids. Allow sparing.
Back in the sandlot days kids had to figure out the rules and how to manage play. They created games and had to figure out how to play well together. Yes fights and arguments often happened. Failure is part of learning. What free play allowed was learning interpersonal dynamics. Sparing was a concept used in the summer camp world. It’s play where boys rough house. Dodge ball and other like games were part of this. Yes, it was a dominance and honor thing. Yes fights broke out and people got hurt. But we learned from failure and it helped teach how to manage anger, frustration, aggression, etc. Overly programmed overly protective aspects robbed kids of essential life lessons.
Allow danger. Build steps to manhood.
I remember reading an article that raised the question if we are protecting out kids too much. That they’re losing the ability to weigh the consequences of their actions by not engaging in dangerous endeavors. No one is arguing for negligence, but learning how to manage danger is important. Robbing people of failure can lead to robbing them of success. There was a time when kids could openly play with guns, like cops and robbers. In this kids are processing aspects of justice, human interaction, problem solving, etc. As danger and gun play has decreased, looked at what has also increased. Steps to manhood is another critical need. Many cultures have ceremony that signifies the end of childhood and start of adulthood. Part of this was the understanding that one must mature and become a man. (yes, we need this for women as well.) The cost of the egalitarianism movement is that we sacrificed manhood and have too many boys who can shave. Or worse, they’re aimless not knowing what to do.We are discovering that is dangerous for society.
Let kids be kids
All the above relate to things that have wrecked the soul of childhood. All the things above lead to discussions on how we can bring it back. They are not immediate solutions, but they will have immediate impact. If we followed through on them years ago they’d be in place now. We cannot be shocked by todays outcomes after we’ve essentially robbed kids of their childhood. Let them chase butterflies, get muddy. Let dads culturally be heroes again. Let romance be a husband and wife walking hand in hand in the sunset years of their life. Let kids be kids.