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Posted: Feb 2, 2006 10:54


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Changing Definitions!
By: Lon Woodbury

Parents have always believed it is their duty to both prepare and protect their children. Modern parents are just as motivated to do this as parents of past generations. However, although these words appear to be the same, the meaning and understanding of these words seems to have radically changed.

In past generations, parents worked to "prepare" their children in how to deal with the consequences of their behavior, while at the same time they tried to "protect" them from adult activities they were too young to fully understand.

For example, children were shooed from the room when the adult conversations turned to serious adult topics. Sex, for example, was an adult topic, and the idea was to protect your children from that information until they reached an age where they could better understand the whole emotional and physical ramifications of sexual activity. One explanation was that it was important to protect the innocence of children as long as possible.

At the same time, children were "prepared" to deal with the consequences of their own actions. If a child got into trouble at school, the parents were likely to add to the consequences. The parents hoped the child would learn how to deal with disappointment, fear and trouble in a safe environment where they had full family and community support.

Modern parents seem to have frequently turned this around. They still have the goal of preparing and protecting their children, but there is an important reversal. Now, it appears the goal is to prepare them for serious adult activities at a very young age, and protect the child when he/she gets into trouble. For example, there is a strong contemporary movement to introduce children to sexuality at a very young age because the belief is that by doing so, they are preparing the child for responsible sex. On the other hand, when a child flunks a class, a common parent reaction is to blame the teacher, and try to protect the child by taking his/her side.

Just as parents always have, modern parents are trying to do the best they can for their children by preparing and protecting their children. But, some parents have turned the traditional understandings upside down to almost a mirror image of what might be called traditional parenting. When working with parents, we have to keep these fluid definitions in mind to understand the parents' perspective. We have to keep in mind that words used today might not have the same meaning as they did a couple of generations ago.

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