Children Are Not the Future

Children are not the future. Children are real people already. “I believe the children are our future,” belts Whitney Houston, and I remember thinking this was a beautiful sentiment the first time I heard it. Since then I’ve interacted with some actual children, and I’ve changed my mind.

I hear that idea a lot, that children are the future or that they are a precious resource.

What a distant, mechanical view to take of other human beings. Children are not “resources” to be mined or collected. Children aren’t the future.

They are actual, real-life human beings right here, right now.

It seems kind of obvious when I say it like that. Of course they aren’t resources. Of course they actually exist in the present. But when I listen to people talk about kids, I’m not sure that it’s all that obvious. People talk about parenting goals, about shaping or molding their kids, about the direction they’re going, or how they are preparing them for “real life”.

Children are not the future. Children are real people already.All of these objectify children and treat them as “future people”, when in reality, children are real people having real lives right here in the present.

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Are your parenting goals about achieving something years down the line, or are your parenting goals rooted in the relationship you’re having here in the present?

If you think of yourself as molding or shaping your child, have you considered that your child is already a wonderful shape?

Instead of considering the direction your child is going, can you just consider the place the already are?

Instead of preparing your child for their “real life” or “the real world”, try getting down into the life and world that already exists for your child.

Real people. Right here. Right now. With real lives. Anything else is a disservice to the awesome people that children already are.

Additional Reading: Have you read The Idle Parent: Why Laid-Back Parents Raise Happier and Healthier Kids? Taking a more relaxed approach to parenting is one way to allow your kids to live their own lives. (affiliate link)

Hey that's a really good point! But it's hard to remember sometimes! Children are real people already.

(Original form of this post appeared May 2012.)