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  Monday January 26th, 2015    

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Growing pains (09/23/2007)
By Janet Lewis Burns
Oh, to be young and free again! What a blast those good old school days were! Kids nowadays have it made! Yeah? Guess again! It's something that the balding, heavier, and slower moving Baby Boomer might romanticize about, sipping wine, or guzzling beer at a class reunion, and as they drag along with grandkids on a trip to the mall, a Beach Boys tune echoing in the background. For the boppers and rockers of the ‘60s, spending time with young people and reminiscing are ways to reclaim, for stolen moments, youthful vigor and wild abandon.

The changes in society, technology, and moral standards have been extensive since today's grandparents once shuffled through the halls of learning (the gallery of pranks), with casual aspirations about their futures. With little pressure to achieve an academic degree, many never went to college. Learning a trade was a highly respected vocation. Some chose to continue to live at home or to help out on the family farm following high school. The familiar credo then was to go steady, marry your high school sweetheart, have 3.5 children, and make an honest living for your family. When one looks to today's young people and the negatives that these drastic changes in the family profile and a greedy, dog-eat-dog society have wrought, their way of life seems so much more intense and stressful than the laidback Boomer years.

Carefree childhood has succumbed to competition and unreasonable expectations, as youngsters today are enrolled in every sort of activity. Unintentionally, parent's may be encouraging participation in sports, music, and various clubs onto a child who needs time to be "just a child", to discover his or her niche free of adult assumptions. Parents may be seeking to fulfill their dreams through their kids, giving them opportunities they didn't have.

Frequency and major increases in intensity of bullying peers today goes on because punks can get away with it. School faculties are limited in disciplinary action allowed. The primary concern is that parents of bullies often ignore the situation, failing to step in and to take the proper steps to alter this destructive behavior. Children and teens from a broken or dysfunctional home life sometimes haven't learned how to trust or to get along with others. They are often neglected and mistreated victims themselves, who lash out at others to appease their own personal torment.

Organized school sports can instill a healthy team spirit and can help build confidence, but when is enough enough? Our eleven-year-old granddaughter Alyssa once told Grandpa that her favorite day of the week is Sunday because their whole family is home together. Ally, six, said something similar to me, exclaiming that her most special times are when our family gets together for celebrations.

Most families discover, the frazzled, expensive way, that a slower pace and quality time together, along with adequate homework allocations, should top the list of priorities for the upcoming school year, and go from there. Parents need to guide the youngster in decisions, in order to determine whether choices made are suitable for an individual's age and maturity.

The entire family should sit down together before the school year starts, to establish guidelines on which activities of interest would best fit into their budget and how much time can be comfortably and reasonably set aside each season to devote to these extracurricular offerings.

One often hears a parent berating a child, "You just had to play softball! We bought you the uniform and cap, the glove, and shoes, so you're not quitting!" If a challenge proves to be too overwhelming for one so young, supportive parents are flexible as well as encouraging.

Planning and listening to each other is the key to a smooth arrangement, If, out of misplaced guilt, parents don't lose sight of who's in charge. Growing pains are not limited to the young. Ask any aging Boomer. They've been there - done that!

Keep quality time in perspective and enjoy the year together!

Janet Burns resides in Lewiston. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com 


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