Kids Matter, Damnit

Without children, we would not be here today. Humans would not exist. Without children, there is no future. Children are the future. When asked what is the earth's greatest resource, many people respond with gold or oil or trees or water, even oxygen. With my own very limited polling done on this question, rarely are children offered as an answer. I sometimes think this is a matter of not seeing the trees for the forest. Kids are just there like air, trees and rain; just not thought about in general terms other than by family members or close friends.

We are living in an age with more elderly people and a declining birthrate in many parts of the world. There is little doubt that raising kids is a huge drain on parents resources, much more so today than was the case a few generations ago. When I was a child, my family was one family in a circle of many families. Aunts and uncles and grandparents lived close by. As kids, there were many family adult friends who we called uncle or aunt. We had a lot of cousins and Sunday was generally regarded as family day when friends and family would come to our home or we would visit relatives or friends homes.

When my siblings and I were growing up, my parents had a huge circle of support both from close friends and family members. There was no such thing as day care. Family was the day care. Discipline when required could be carried out by any adult family member or close family adult friend. A slap on the bottom or a clip on the ear or a "good talking to" could be administered by any uncle, aunt, related or not. Corporal punishment was administered by schools: a ruler on the hand for girls and strap or cane on the backside for boys to keep us on the straight and narrow. Our travel between home and school was monitored by family and friends and news of any misbehaviour along the way reached home before the child. Discipline was subsequently administered along with the vague threat of "wait till your father gets home". We were disciplined, but we were cared for and about.

Post War Immigration

Post World War II, family support began eroding as emigration bloomed. Young families moved from countries suffering unemployment, economic hardship, dictatorial governments and lack of government services to name just a few, to the "new countries". Grandparents, and older extended family members were left behind. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA saw their populations swell from prewar levels of less than a million in New Zealand to over 3 million just 20 years later as an example. The US had a prewar population of 130 Million. By 1980,the population had almost doubled to 236 million. Many of these emigrating families, while leaving the extended families behind, settled in ethnic areas where they developed new family ties. Many settled in undeveloped areas in the new countries, beginning lives afresh but with no family or old friends support.

In the 21st century more and more families are gravitating from the rural areas to urban areas. People in the developed world (for want of a better word) live in cities where the single family home is gradually disappearing to be replaced by condo towers. Neighborhoods where parents could trust friends and neighbors to keep an eye out for their children are fast becoming a thing of the past. Children no longer walk or ride their bikes to

school but are now bused or driven. Daycare for parents in many areas is prohibitively expensive but a necessary expense when both parents have to work to keep a roof over their head and to cover the increasingly expensive cost of raising a family. However, they are viewed with envy by parents in third world countries where poverty, corrupt governments, wars as well as food and medicine shortages are commonplace and where there is a much higher mortality rate among children.

Typical Third World Housing

Many people today live in a world that has wonderful advantages for those fortunate enough to live in a country where human rights are respected. For the unfortunate, these advantages are denied. One just has to view the news and look at the tragedy unfolding in in the middle East, Africa and South America as hundreds of thousands of refugees; men, women and children flee from violence leaving behind all they, their families and generations before have built and risking their lives to do so.

For what? Simply put, they are seeking the advantages that people living in countries such as France, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United States, Britain and Ireland, just to name a few, take so much for granted: peace, safety, freedom from persecution, freedom from senseless violence, religious freedom and stability.

Parents fleeing with their children want nothing more than a safe environment in which to raise their families; to settle in a country that can provide their children with such basics as education, medical care, clean water and food, and a roof over their head. Many men and women, so desperate to escape the turmoil in their countries, drown in rough seas, capsized in tiny little boats that would not even be regarded as seaworthy in other parts of the world. Many more are captured and enslaved by slave traders, and many are brutally raped and murdered by bandits and human vultures who prey on the weak and vulnerable in these despotic areas of the world.

A Multitude of Dictators and Oppressors

Evil dictators and war lords in countries such as Syria, North Korea, Nigeria, Congo, Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan have little regard for rights other than their own. Children as young as five are routinely kidnapped from their families and conscripted as soldiers, having no chance to grow up and live lives that we in the west take so much for granted.

Children have to be regarded as an asset to be developed. With declining birthrates becoming commonplace in many countries around the world, we have to become a global village in caring for this asset. Kids matter! Without them, what is the future of this planet?

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