Are children growing up too quickly? - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: Do you feel children are being exposed to adult concepts, such as relationships and sex, far too you
Yes 30 62.50%
No 17 35.42%
Haven't Thought Much About It 1 2.08%
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#1 of 85 Old 10-23-2012, 08:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am a 19-year old college student. I am writing a college research paper on how quickly children are being exposed to very adult concepts. I felt as though a website with real mothers would give me the most insight for my essay. I have not given birth to any children nor have I adopted any.

 

That being said, I help my mother-in-law take care of three children, ages 8, 12, and 13 (my husband and I are more or less responsible for raising them, she just does the financial part and we do the rest). I have noticed that they all know an awful lot about boyfriends, girlfriends, drugs, alcohol, and sex. I've also noticed that the eight year old wears some of the least appropriate clothes I've ever seen... low cut tops, reallllly short shorts, tight jeans that expose a lot, shirts that come half way down her stomach... I feel the things that they have been exposed to are incredibly inappropriate, especially with as young as they are. Music does little to help this, with songs like "S&M" by Rihanna and "Last Friday Night" by Katy Perry (lyrics include the chorus: "Cause I may be bad but I'm perfectly good at it. Sex in the air I don't care I love the smell of it. Sticks and stones may break my bones by chains and whips excite me" as well as "There's a stranger in my bed, there's a pounding in my head. Glitter all over the room, pink flamingos in the pool. I smell like a minibar. DJ's passed out in the yard.") These songs are not only played constantly on the radio, but the radio station is played by the bus driver who drives children from kindergarten to eighth grade home from school. It's hard to monitor what they take in with everything around them being so sexual and inappropriate.

 

Whatever happened to little girls playing with dolls and little boys playing with army men? Children shouldn't be interested in relationships or dressing "sexy". Does anyone else notice things like this or am I alone here?

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#2 of 85 Old 10-23-2012, 09:03 PM
 
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You are not alone. Protecting our children's innocence until an appropriate age is a reason many of us homeschool. Among other reasons of course.

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#3 of 85 Old 10-23-2012, 09:48 PM
 
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I do agree that kids are "sexualized" at a young age.  But is this really much worse today than in the last few generations?  I grew up with Madonna.  Her song "Justify My Love" came out when I was in Jr. High and I remember kids singing the words at school and discussing the music video (which wasn't even aired, if I remember right, because it wasn't appropriate for TV).  Yet kids knew about it.  You could take this back each generation back to the sexual revolution of the 60's.  If anything, kids are more responsible today than they were then, because "free love" is no longer a popular idea and people are familiar with birth control.

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#4 of 85 Old 10-24-2012, 02:26 AM
 
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just coz you are exposed to it, doesnt mean kids comprehend it. 

 

i hear 5 year olds happily singing the lyrics with no idea what the lyrics are or what they mean. some mishear and sing HILARIOUS songs. 

 

marketing is trying to find new markets and thus sexualising. 

 

i think in the early what 1900s we started seperating adult and kid issues. otherwise kids were right in with the adults. 

 

kids are exposed to many things - but its their parents attitude that defines how the child will handle the issue. 

 

i hear sexualising and clothes. that never touches me coz i dont buy new clothes. just coz it is there (like the recent thin doll controversy) doesnt mean you need to consume.

 

many kids know about sex even before they enter K. i was one of them and so was my dd. i think in many parts of the world where family quarters are one room, many kids know much more. 

 

relationships? crushes. boyfriends and girlfriends. no big deal for me. for some they are completely oblivious to this. while others are into it at preschool. again i dont find that a problem. 

 

what i do dislike is how stressful our kids lives have become. their access to good old fun outside is so so so limited. i think we are losing knowledge of how to play. its all about academics. 


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#5 of 85 Old 10-24-2012, 08:17 AM
 
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In Western culture, children reach adulthood around age 27. Compared to other cultures, then, western culture children are the slowest, not the fastest, to grow up. (Just in case you're interested, the delay in adulthood in western culture, particularly the United States, is related to children still needing their parents (both economically and psychologically) well into their 20's, the dramatic growth in higher education, the delay of marriage, the expectation of an unstable career, parents to extending support well into their children’s twenties. But doesn't it make sense that as life expectancies increase, the length of childhood increases? Anyway.

 

But I think your questions are not about growing up. I think what you mean to ask is: "Are Western cuitured children being exposed to sexual content at an earlier age?" and "Is being exposed to sexual content a harmful thing for children?"

 

I think the answers might be 1. No, except for a brief (comparatively) excursion into Victorian values which continues in our country even today, children have always been "exposed" to sexual content early, even from birth. In many cultures parents have intercourse in the family bed with the children present and no one thinks anything of it. Its a learning experience that probably benefits them.

 

2. I don't know if its particularly harmful to children. Western culture's fear and shame resulting in its bizarre fascination and elevation of sex is harmful to everyone, really, not just children. Probably our reactions of "oh god don't let the children see that!" cause more problems than the "that" would. Maybe.

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#6 of 85 Old 10-24-2012, 10:15 AM
 
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Whatever happened to little girls playing with dolls and little boys playing with army men? 

 

 

My first thought is that it's also harmful for children to be confined to gender-stereotyped toys and play.

 

So if you think a return to little girls playing with dolls and little boys playing with army men is preferable, I disagree. 

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#7 of 85 Old 10-24-2012, 10:30 AM
 
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I don't think kids are being introduced to the concepts earlier, I think the problem is that more parents are trying to keep their kid ignorant longer, and as a result the children's first introduction to these complex concepts is happening on the school yard, or through media, and their first impressions are therefore far less realistic or healthy than if their parents had been open and honest about the subjects from a young age.
 

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#8 of 85 Old 10-24-2012, 04:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I wasn't trying to gender-stereotype.. I meant. whatever happened to children playing with toys and simple things, and turning to sex and relationships?

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#9 of 85 Old 10-24-2012, 07:18 PM
 
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In Western culture, children reach adulthood around age 27. Compared to other cultures, then, western culture children are the slowest, not the fastest, to grow up. (Just in case you're interested, the delay in adulthood in western culture, particularly the United States, is related to children still needing their parents (both economically and psychologically) well into their 20's, the dramatic growth in higher education, the delay of marriage, the expectation of an unstable career, parents to extending support well into their children’s twenties. But doesn't it make sense that as life expectancies increase, the length of childhood increases? Anyway.

 

But I think your questions are not about growing up. I think what you mean to ask is: "Are Western cuitured children being exposed to sexual content at an earlier age?" and "Is being exposed to sexual content a harmful thing for children?"

 

I think the answers might be 1. No, except for a brief (comparatively) excursion into Victorian values which continues in our country even today, children have always been "exposed" to sexual content early, even from birth. In many cultures parents have intercourse in the family bed with the children present and no one thinks anything of it. Its a learning experience that probably benefits them.

 

2. I don't know if its particularly harmful to children. Western culture's fear and shame resulting in its bizarre fascination and elevation of sex is harmful to everyone, really, not just children. Probably our reactions of "oh god don't let the children see that!" cause more problems than the "that" would. Maybe.

 

I vehemently agree with everything about this post.

 

I'm also against keeping children ignorant of sex any longer than absolutely necessary.

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#10 of 85 Old 10-24-2012, 07:51 PM
 
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I think it's multifaceted. Right now I would like nothing more than for my almost 19 year old the grow the hell up. I am tired of her being the poor little girl:-(. On the other hand lately when we have gone to the movies, nothing under PG - 13, the theaters have been filled with young kids 3-10ish. Many of the movies have vastly inappropriate (to me) subject matter.
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#11 of 85 Old 10-24-2012, 08:59 PM
 
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I think kids are growing up at a slower rate than my peers and I did. The songs are a little more blatant but my dd and her peers are still doll playing, fantasy loving children acting like children, even with earlier puberty being a reality for many of them. This is definitely not what my peers and I remember from my childhood and I am happy to see them staying kids and having fun even with the influences you mentioned.
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#12 of 85 Old 10-24-2012, 09:31 PM
 
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I think it's both, in some ways we infantilize children and in other ways, like sexualizing, we are making them grow up too fast.


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#13 of 85 Old 10-25-2012, 09:38 AM
 
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I think it's both, in some ways we infantilize children and in other ways, like sexualizing, we are making them grow up too fast.

I agree... I think we baby kids now WAY, way beyond what's necessary.  But, I also think taking a four year old to an R rated movie is irresponsible.  

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#14 of 85 Old 10-25-2012, 10:34 AM
 
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But, I also think taking a four year old to an R rated movie is irresponsible.  

it would be interesting to know why they take their 4 year old to an R rated movie. is it because they have no place to leave their child? i mean people are smart. there must be some reason why they are forced to take their 4 year old to such a movie. for us who have other choices it might seem irresponsible, but i wonder if we hear the reasons if we will still find their reason irresponsible. 

 

esp. in families today where age gap between children might be huge due to failed and new relationships. 


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#15 of 85 Old 10-25-2012, 11:01 AM
 
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The 12 and 13 year old SHOULD know about things like boyfriends/girlfriends, sex, alcohol, and drugs.

 

If parents aren't talking about these things to their kids at this age, they will completely miss the opportunity to do so.

 

A 13 year old is a teenager, not a child, and a 12 year old nearly so.

 

I think that how these subjects are handled and what we say to our children/teens is the more important part. Pop culture is not a good teacher. Parents are.


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#16 of 85 Old 10-25-2012, 11:06 AM
 
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My kids are still young (around 5) but I cannot comprehend letting DD wear "sexy" clothes or buy Bratz dolls to play with.  I don't even like the new "kids'" shows because they show stupid parents and the kids are always fixated on looks and dates and just whatever.  I did watch a lot of TV as a kid and it didn't really affect me but... I dunno, I'm just not comfortable with it for my kids.  That's a reason we're TV-free.  We have lots of DVD's that I think are age appropriate.  We also homeschool because I don't want them to grow up too quickly (plus I think we can give them a better, broader, real-world education than the school can).

 

OTOH I don't believe in coddling them, either.  They both already are expected to contribute to the running of the household.  No, we're not farmers and it's not a necessity, but every day we do chores together.  Some people have expressed the opinion that kids shouldn't be expected to do chores etc so young.  I don't believe it.

 

Music-wise, I too am kind of horrified at a lot of songs, but we do listen to some in the car sometimes, and both kids have radios in their rooms that they may listen to as long as it's music, not talk show type stuff. Generally they choose their CD's of children's stories or nursery rhymes, but DD likes country music for some reason.  I don't really care what they listen to; they know better than to repeat back bad words.  I did draw the line at the rap music DH liked to listen to in the car - it was too aggressive overall imo, plus it's just, I dunno, ugh.  (Hip-hop OTOH which "sounds" catchier... we do sometimes listen to, even if the content isn't MUCH better...)  DH has the mouth of a sailor and I tend to use "bad words" sometimes as well (not aggressively) but for some unknown reason both kids have picked up that they're bad words and don't use them.  They don't know the ins and outs of sex (uh... sorry, that was a really bad UNintended pun!!) but they have a vague idea.  And we stress that that's how babies are made and our morals include marriage etc.  (Not like either DH and I were virgins when we married... far from it, but that's still the message we're passing to the kids.)  If an adult topic comes up - such as drugs etc - we don't shove it under the rug but we talk about it with the kids in what I hope is an age appropriate manner for them to understand.

 

Speaking of which, I find it so weird that DH and I getting married at 23 and starting our family then, buying a house, etc., was more of an exception than the rule.  DH had been in the Army for a while by then as well, and although I had lived at home previously except for two years during college, so it wasn't weird to us.  My parents were well-off and did give us some financial help for a couple of years but it wasn't like we absolutely *needed* it.  It's only been in the last couple of years that our peers have been getting married, a couple have had a baby or two (still very young ones) but about half of our peers are still unmarried, etc.  And we're 30 now.  Geesh. 

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#17 of 85 Old 10-25-2012, 11:15 AM
 
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it would be interesting to know why they take their 4 year old to an R rated movie. is it because they have no place to leave their child? i mean people are smart. there must be some reason why they are forced to take their 4 year old to such a movie. for us who have other choices it might seem irresponsible, but i wonder if we hear the reasons if we will still find their reason irresponsible. 

 

esp. in families today where age gap between children might be huge due to failed and new relationships. 

 In what universe are parents "forced" to go to an R rated movie, whether or not they bring their child?

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#18 of 85 Old 10-25-2012, 11:34 AM - Thread Starter
 
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https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dDR1cVZwMjVDUDFtVEhRcDhIRUVJSGc6MQ

 

If people wouldn't mind, it would really help me if you'd take my survey about the loss of virginity. The answers will remain completely anonymous. I'm trying to compare the ages children lose their virginity in this generation to generations of the past. It's only 4 questions long.

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#19 of 85 Old 10-25-2012, 11:52 AM
 
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 In what universe are parents "forced" to go to an R rated movie, whether or not they bring their child?

this universe actually - the reason why many theaters have actually banned children under 6 in R rated movies (the distraction factor to the people watching the movie) and others actually charge adult prices for any child brought into the theater. 

 

so yeah it does happen. 

 

it is cheaper to pay ten bucks and take your 4 year old to the movie that she wont even care about but instead will play with her legos you bring along while her older brother watches the R rated movie; than to pay 20 to 30 bucks which you might not have to pay the babysitter.  


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#20 of 85 Old 10-25-2012, 12:14 PM
 
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 In what universe are parents "forced" to go to an R rated movie, whether or not they bring their child?

Right.  Just don't go see an R rated movie.  I never got a babystitter for my child...but, we went to child appropriate movies instead.    I didn't see an R rated movie in the theater until she was old enough to stay home alone.  I learned to love and enjoy movies that were meant for young kids.  

 

*sidenote... I was in a theater recently where the adults brought young preschoolers with them.   Two of the kids had lightup shoes.  WHY would you  bring kids to an adult movie wearing light up shoes?  The movie was "End of Watch" which was very violent.  But, with LIGHT UP SHOES?

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#21 of 85 Old 10-25-2012, 12:22 PM
 
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Are children being exposed to adult concepts too early? No.

 

Are children (particularly girls) being marketed to in a way that is sexualizing at a young age? YES.


 

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#22 of 85 Old 10-25-2012, 12:38 PM
 
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Right.  Just don't go see an R rated movie.  I never got a babystitter for my child...but, we went to child appropriate movies instead.    I didn't see an R rated movie in the theater until she was old enough to stay home alone.  I learned to love and enjoy movies that were meant for young kids.  

 

*sidenote... I was in a theater recently where the adults brought young preschoolers with them.   Two of the kids had lightup shoes.  WHY would you  bring kids to an adult movie wearing light up shoes?  The movie was "End of Watch" which was very violent.  But, with LIGHT UP SHOES?

 No doubt the parents were "forced" to make the kids wear the light up shoes.

 

I think that a lot of kids are not exposed early or often enough (or at all) to adult concepts like responsibility, accountability and consideration for others.

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#23 of 85 Old 10-27-2012, 07:27 PM
 
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I think it really depends on the gender of the child (girls seem to be getting more sexualized messages about how they should look, being sexy, etc at a young age while I don't see that at all in my sons, there are not even any sexualizing clothes for boys like you see at large department stores that are for little girls.  Also it would depend on what kind of limits the family has on media exposure (we do not have cable TV, but allow our kids to watch DVDs we buy them or certain shows on netflix, I would not buy the Bratz or other dolls or toys that make an obvious attempt to be "sexy" etc.)


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#24 of 85 Old 10-28-2012, 09:13 AM
 
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I think that a lot of kids are not exposed early or often enough (or at all) to adult concepts like responsibility, accountability and consideration for others.

i am not sure how much that matters. 

 

i grew up in a culture where none of that happened before kid started K when they were 5. before that they werent supposed to clean their room, eat by themselves, put on their own clothes, etc. so no there was no responsibility expected out of them. in fact i would say this is the reality in most of the world than not.

 

so perhaps we try to make kids do things they are not ready for till they mature a little. like cleaning their room. i've kind of followed the same principal here - except dd was a super independent craving kid so she wanted to do it herself. 


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#25 of 85 Old 10-28-2012, 09:42 AM
 
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I haven't read all the posts, but want to comment on the first few. Sex in the context of love is different than sex out of that context. One encourages you to find a good, caring partner, and balance giving with receiving. The other encourages a more selfish attitude.
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#26 of 85 Old 10-28-2012, 02:05 PM
 
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i am not sure how much that matters. 

 

i grew up in a culture where none of that happened before kid started K when they were 5. before that they werent supposed to clean their room, eat by themselves, put on their own clothes, etc. so no there was no responsibility expected out of them. in fact i would say this is the reality in most of the world than not.

 

so perhaps we try to make kids do things they are not ready for till they mature a little. like cleaning their room. i've kind of followed the same principal here - except dd was a super independent craving kid so she wanted to do it herself. 

 

I am totally confused.  Why is a child not mature enough to clean their room before they're about 5?  Or EAT by themselves, even?  I assume you don't mean fixing their own meal on their own, but feeding themselves?  Or putting on their clothes?  I'm not trying to be judgmental, I'm just genuinely curious as to what culture are you're talking about.  And most of the world does this??

 

I'm not talking that kids would do everything perfectly, but working towards it, certainly.  Straightening up, making the bed, etc.  My son is 5 and not only cleans his room but also makes the bed, does most of the laundry (with my help), sweeps the main floor, dusts, straightens out the living room, sets the table, weeds in the summertime, loads and unloads the dishwasher, empties out the smaller garbage cans, etc.  He didn't magically start when he got kindergarten age; he's been included all along. I don't see any of this as abnormal. 

 

My daughter is a bit younger and she helps him with all those, plus waters plants, folds clothes and such, makes sure there are always cloth napkins in the holder, helps with the marketing, and helps with the cooking and baking every day, and feeds and waters the cat.  She can't phsyically make the beds because the quilts are too heavy, so DS helps her with those.  (He even makes our bed in the morning, on his own!)  I expect she'll also help out with the baby. 

 

They're also not super-advanced for their ages.  I'd say they were pretty typical.  Helping out is just a matter of life.  We all live in our house and we all have to make it nice, and we all put on some music and do our chores in the morning.  It's just life.

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#27 of 85 Old 10-28-2012, 06:05 PM
 
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I am totally confused.  Why is a child not mature enough to clean their room before they're about 5?  Or EAT by themselves, even?  I assume you don't mean fixing their own meal on their own, but feeding themselves?  Or putting on their clothes?  I'm not trying to be judgmental, I'm just genuinely curious as to what culture are you're talking about.  And most of the world does this??

gosh i dont know how to answer your why. 

 

its not about maturity. its not about what they can or cant do.

 

its a cultural attitude. and yes most of the world does this. i have seen this in asia, africa. any culture which is more community based, rather than individual based. 

 

children CAN do all of it, but they are not expected to. when a 4 year old eats, the focus is on are they eating a varied diet and all that is on their plate. the focus is not on can they feed themselves. 

 

the things we focus on here, is not focused on at all in the culture of my birth. most kids still cosleep till they are in double digits, though sometimes its lack of space. no one thinks in terms of my child is 10. she should be sleeping in her own room or sharing a room with a sibling. it is very very very rare to have babies sleep in another room. the baby always sleeps with either the parents or the grandparents. i remember in high school when we heard about western culture putting their babies in another room we thought that was worthy to call CPS against the parents. but then there is not the kind of pressure as there are here. many mothers could stay home. which is all changing of course. 

 

children are meant to play and listen to stories. when we went back when dd was 3 my mother and neighbors took turns feeding her during food time and telling her stories. dd just lapped it up. however also at 3 she was following my mom and neighbors when we visited home in asia and helping them in the kitchen. so she'd have her little place in teh kitchen shelling peas or rolling dough or mixing something. 

 

heck some of my special memories about my grandpa were of my studying hard for my finals in high school and him feeding me while i focused on writing my answers. i feed my dd sometimes too. she loves it. shocks many of her friends. 

 

its all about expectations. 

 

i am not sure how to explain the difference to you. 


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#28 of 85 Old 10-28-2012, 09:58 PM
 
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i am not sure how to explain the difference to you. 

 

I think you explained it very well.

 

I'm not sure why our American culture values independence so much. Maybe some of it comes from our early history, in which we idealised rugged individualism as we braved our way to claim territory in the western part of our country. I remember in my childhood a Marlboro commercial that consisted of a lone man riding on his horse, the epitome of the rugged individualist, smoking his cigarette. There must be something attractive about that image or they wouldn't have tried to sell cigarettes with it :)

 

Sometimes I wonder if there isn't a correlation between depression and our isolated way of life. My understanding is that in cultures where extended families all live together snugly under one roof, depression is unheard of.

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#29 of 85 Old 10-28-2012, 10:15 PM
 
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Sometimes I wonder if there isn't a correlation between depression and our isolated way of life. My understanding is that in cultures where extended families all live together snugly under one roof, depression is unheard of.

oh i could kiss you!!!! i have been shouting this from the rooftops ever since i arrived in this country. the one thing that shocked me totally is how huge depression is here. how very common it is. 

 

and guess what. i have met people from my community who came here as adults and who got into the depression route too.

 

and me too. as a single mom i choose to live with roommates, coz i get depressed when i live alone with dd. cohousing would work really well for me but alas none in our city. 

 

there is something to 'living' with people around you. not necessarily in the same house, but in the same apt bldg or next door to each other. to not worry that your child is next door at dinner coz you know they will be fed and vice versa. mind you i have a healthy group of friends, and we all spend time together. but not to the extent that we have friendships in my country of birth. there is a sense of community. i could cry coz i saw this at a cohousing community in teh city next door to us. i have friends living there and joined them for dinner. to the outsiders they seemed standoffish, but in their community they helped a family with the adoption process in every way possible. and they came together to help a young mama die from brain cancer. her elderly parents who came to help were lost. the community found adoptive parents for her adopted son and took care of her and her parents while she lived in that community. 

 

i saw that when i visited portland, OR this summer. people in 4 streets kinda living the cohousing way. i didnt meet them so not sure if they had dinners together, but they had kitchen equipment swap (saw their bulletin board). 

 

when you dont have a community you have no idea what you are missing.

 

and when that community is taken away from you, you realise what a huge wealth they were. doesnt mean everything is hunky dory. they still have mil sil issues. but having lived both lives, i'd rather live with community than without. that means that while you have issues with some of your community and family, there are plenty there to support you. 

 

why so much focus on independence in this country? you are right. because of the lie of the promise of milk and honey. you come here, work hard and you can make it. in the 1700s there were ads for people to come over to the east coast because life is so plentiful. and you buy into that untill you read letters from family members saying dont come to the east unless you have provisions for at least a year and a half. 

 

and sadly the lie still continues. and the lure of milk and honey still exists - until one gets here - discovers the truth, but its too late. 

 

no matter where the immigrant is from to whom i talk to. we all speak the same language. the one common thread. so much isolation. you are happy here for the opportunities you have that you didnt at home, yet so deeply unhappy at the isolation and the 'underworking'.


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#30 of 85 Old 10-28-2012, 10:18 PM
 
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When extended families live together and *cause*depression, then it is likely to be hidden. The flip side is that if the family is functioning well, there is no depression. Looking at the family from the outside, it would be impossible to see the difference. My point is, don't assume facts not in evidence.
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