How many times have you heard someone say something to the effect that kids today are smarter than they used to be? You'll usually hear this in reference to matters of technology, pop culture and society in general.
It's true. Today's children are more in-tune to what is going on around them, but knowing what is happening does NOT mean they understand what is happening. No matter how smart you think your children are, they are still children and have a child-like perspective on things (as they should have)...
Years ago, John and I, along with Zach, Elizabeth and Olivia, lived with my Granny for about two months while our house was being made ready to live in. But we did not come without a few other 'family members'-including our barn cat and her kittens.
Well...one evening Granny fixed chicken and dumplings for supper. She took a bit of the broth containing small bits of chicken in it; something she'd done countless times over the years and gave it to the cats to enjoy with their supper. But as luck would have it, there was a bit of gristle in it and one of the kittens choked on it and died. But wait, it gets 'better'.
The kitten just happened to be 3 year old Elizabeth's favorite. Being raised on a farm, none of my children were immune to the fact that things die, but when we explained that the kitten had choked on its supper and died, she asked what it had eaten. Granny, who felt bad enough already, was deeply apologetic when she revealed that it was the chicken she had given them for supper (which Elizabeth thought was 'so sweet of Granny' at the time).
Elizabeth shed a few tears and talked about the kitten off and on throughout the next day, but after that seemed to be fine. On Sunday, however, Elizabeth's Sunday school teacher could hardly contain her laughter when she told Granny, John and I what Elizabeth had said in class earlier. When she asked the children what they wanted to pray about, Elizabeth said she wanted prayers for her kitten. The teacher asked what was wrong with the kitten and Elizabeth matter-of-factly said, "Granny killed my cat."
Today's children are exposed to so much more than I was as a child and that's saying quite a bit since my childhood was spent in the midst of the Kennedy assassinations, the Viet Nam war, the Civil Rights movement and the era of 'free love' and the hippy culture. But exposure to grown-up matters doesn't guarantee a grown-up perspective of things.
As parents it is essential that you:
1. Do not overload your children with adult information. Let them be children for as long as possible. They have plenty of time to deal with life when they grow up.
2. Ask your children what they think and how they feel about the situations they are exposed to unavoidably. Knowing their perspective on things will help you help them.
Children are not the mini-adults we sometimes try to make them. I know as a parent I have been guilty of doing this at times. It's easy to do, but it's just as easy to let them stay little for a little while longer if we will only will.