Easier Childhoods Make it Harder on Parents

I take it for granted that we have chosen to make things harder for ourselves. I mean this in the personal sense and in the societal sense. Personally, I have chosen to share my life with a partner from another country, I have proceeded to produce three children with this foreign partner and then temporarily moved to a third, middle income country in the former Soviet Union. I could have made other choices that would have made things a bit easier. Like have less children or not move with
them.

In the simpler days (without pesky child labor laws) kids would be out working not making it harder for parents by demanding a well-rounded and fun childhood.
In the simpler days (without pesky child labor laws) kids would be out working not making it harder for parents by demanding a well-rounded and fun childhood.

I think we as a society have also chosen to make things harder for parents as well. When we decided that children under the age of 18 were to have childhoods, no matter their socio-economic position, we made a decision that makes living harder. It was easier when kids were broken and put to work right away. Children were largely less happy (this is a normative conclusion, I have no scientific research to back this up, although I am sure that it is out there. I think just the combination of child mortality rates and common sense would back me on this.) but they were occupied. (This depends on how far back we are looking. There was a problem of poor children in newly industrialized citites not having enough to do 100 years ago, but that was about the time that we started to give kids childhoods, i.e. didn’t allow them to work any more.)

There might be a risk to read me as saying that there was no such thing as childhood 200 years ago. That isn’t exactly what I mean. Rather, it was that childhood had a different meaning. We don’t love our children more than our ancestors did, we just love them differently. In the end, I think that while I have chosen to make my life more difficult, I have in fact been able to help my children in a way that parents who are raising kids in the environment that they themselves were raised in might not be able to do. The fact that I live in a transnational environment means that flexibility in solving a given problem is greater as a result of a dominating norm. The problems of children are the same all over the world, but the solutions to these problems are very different.

To give an example I’ll use RAT and girls with ADHD. The process of helping her get better returns from her efforts has been life-long, but it has only been in the last year that we have seen some real results. RAT is a hard worker, who struggled to get anything out of the work that she put in. Despite this she never gave up, which I find impressive.

What this has to do with difficulty is the fact that we were able to use one country’s medical system, another country’s school system and vast array of advice from a number of different countries to create an environment that is slowly allowing her to succeed. (As a side note, this success has a down side: School is getting more demanding, if not harder which is natural for anyone in 3rd grade).

We might have done this without creating difficulty, but I don’t know. My partner would disagree. She would say that if we had stayed in Sweden RAT would have made steps anyway. I am not sure.

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