Defining a Perfect Childhood
Everyone one is raised differently. Not even siblings share the same experiences and standards their parents put them through. The definition of an ideal upbringing is interchanging between families, and continues to change with time. Most people don’t think that they have experienced the ideal upbringing if you asked them. They would come up with something that their parents may have done that has affected them negatively in their upbringing, and it may not be considered a serious issue to others. This is because most people have a pre-existing idea of what a childhood should entail.
In many minds including my own, when thinking about an ideal upbringing the famous picket fence idea comes up . The picket fence idea concept is an iconic status in the United States. It symbolizes an ideal middle-class suburban life. The idea includes a family with 2-3 children and a dog, a big house and an overall peaceful lifestyle. The husband has a good job that pays well so the wife can stay home and take care of the kids. And the children are free to pursue the things they want including sports, music, anything that they show interest in. This may be what defines a perfect lifestyle, but not an ideal upbringing. There are many factors that go into the white picket fence idea that agree with the claims of Julie Noonan, author of “What makes a good childhood” for the publisher, Berry Street Childhood Institute Knowledge to Action, such as having children feel valued and respected for who they are. “A good childhood is characterized by stable, responsive, caring relationships in families and in the community. Children thrive in nurturing environments that encourage them to explore and engage safely with the world around them, and support them to fulfill their potential.” This is what pops up when “perfect childhood definition” is googled, and most people would agree that these factors would create the groundwork of a stable upbringing.
Some factors mentioned that families and their children have little to no control over includes: the employment of young people and the pressures families feel when trying to afford housing and their everyday expenses. There are several outside factors that affect families, and the raising of one’s child. What should be discussed more is that if a family has something like a “white picket fence” life, and the child’s basic needs are being met, then there could be certain alterations made to better that child in the long-run. This idea is addressed in Julia Noonan’s chapter on Childhood Wellbeing: Good Childhood Domains, “For all children to survive, they need to have the very basic material resources in place – food, water and shelter. In order for children to thrive, they need much more than the basics.” Many families have a lifestyle that is more or less like the white picket fence fantasy, but they fail to realize the potential they are giving their children as well as the potential life lessons they could be teaching them. Most parents have the natural instinct of wanting to give their children everything they never had when they grew up, and this continues on through each generation. What some may not realize is that by attempting to give their children everything they could ever want or need, can cause them more damage than benefit them. As Julie Noonan would describe it as one of her main factors to her chapters, “Childhood wellbeing is not just about the immediate lives of children, but also the long-term outcomes.” What some parents fail to realize is that their children’s upbringing is a very brief, but very critical time in their lives where they must develop skills in order to better be prepared once they enter the real world.
Some may say that an ideal upbringing would involve preparing one’s child for the world. This idea includes giving children responsibilities at an early age and having them gain a sense of self accomplishment through working hard in order to get what they really want. Some parents may want to focus solely on their academics, or maybe just their sports. Both of these things gives the child a feeling of self pride after making certain accomplishments in those fields. In which I believe is something that needs to be implemented into raising a child into a respectable adult.
Ultimately someone’s upbringing does play a major part in the type of individual they grow up to be. It all depends on what that particular family values and what life lessons they want to pass on to their children. There are families that value education above everything else, others may view becoming a contributing member to society as the most important thing their child can do, and some believe that kids just need a chance to be kids. “The changing nature of how we have defined and understood ‘childhood’ over many centuries’ highlights that it is not a constant but an ever-shifting construct” as Julia Noonan perfectly states on page 14 in her book. There are many different opinions on how to raise one’s children and it continues to change through the years as economical factors fluctuate and people’s morals change. Even though there are some things that can be agreed upon, the concept of an ideal upbringing will never be agreed on and will continue to change throughout families and time.
Noonan, J. (2017) What makes a good childhood? Melbourne: Berry Street Childhood Institute.
Dolan, M. How Did the White Picket Fence Become a Symbol of the Suburbs? (2019, April 1).