Arnold, J. (2000). Endangered: Your child in a hostile world. Farmington, PA: Plough.
“Our children are an endangered species.” This is the contention of the author, who is also a father of eight, a grandfather, and a family counselor for over thirty years.
In the opening chapters, he exposes the far-reaching hostility of our western culture towards children. In his opinion, children are in danger of losing their childhood. The situation demands drastic action by parents and educators.
Of the forces and attitudes that militate against children he cites the following: indifference and apathy on the part of adults to put their children first; poverty, and conversely that affluence which fobs off the children’s need for adults who care and will listen, with material substitutes-toys, clothes, TV and computer games; pressure to excel in school-and even kindergarten-as first steps upon the ladder to a successful career.
There are the easy answers: drugging the ‘over-active’ child into submission, shying away from the ‘no’ which gives the security of known boundaries.
Also endangering children is the adult world where individual advancement is the primary goal, family life is at an all-time low, and violence is often chosen as a way to solve problems.
Still, Arnold does not believe the situation is hopeless. If the black sheep among children need our patience, trust, and a listening ear in special measure, isn’t this what every child needs? Then relationships can develop which will enable us adults to steer children through a threatening environment to mature and responsible adulthood.
In Praise of Black Sheep
We should never forget that raising a ‘good’ child is a dubious goal in the first place, if only because the line between instilling integrity and breeding self-righteousness is so fine. Getting into trouble can be a vital part of building a child’s character. As Polish pediatrician Janusz Korczak points out: ‘The good child cries very little, he sleeps through the night, he is confident and good-natured. He is well-behaved, convenient, obedient, and good. Yet no consideration is given to the fact that he may grow up to be indolent and stagnant.’
From parenting journals to popular books, the wisdom is the same: children may be cute, but raising them is a thankless chore. Childhood itself has come to be viewed as a suspect phase. Children of all ages are being squelched on the playground, not because they are unmanageable or unruly, but simply because they are behaving like children should. Diagnosed with ‘problems’ that used to be recognized as normal childhood-traits-impulsiveness and exuberance, spontaneity, and daring-millions of children around the world are being diagnosed as hyper-active and drugged into submission. I’m referring to the widespread use of Ritalin and other related stimulants…
Parents especially will gain insight into the seriousness of the problems their children face and will find encouragement to address them. Teachers and youth workers may want to recommend it and will also find stimulation for their own work.
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