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Are Todays Children Growing Up Too Quickly?


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#1 *Ghania*

Posted 23 February 2009 - 12:41 PM




Early last week, I read an article about the boy dubbed “Britian’s youngest dad”. Many of you may now be familiar with the story of 13 year old Alfie Patten who is convinced that the baby born to his 15 year old girlfriend is his child.  And I’m guessing that many of you with (and without) children may be horrified at the prospect of a 13 year old father.

I know I am.

Although it is a fact that kids are becoming sexually active at increasingly younger ages, the prospect of a 13 year old father had never entered my mind.  Perhaps on some level I did not believe that it was possible

My horror intensified when I watched the news and saw video footage of young Alfie cradling what he believes to be his daughter.  He looked barely older than my own little boy and I felt saddened by his vulnerability and naivety.

I guess Alfie’s story is testament to what can happen when kids decide to mimic adult behaviour, be it sexual or otherwise, without being properly prepared for the possible consequence of their actions.  

It’s also raises an important question, one that you may have discussed with your partner, spouse or friends after reading about/watching Alfie’s story last week – Are our children growing up too quickly?

A view I have held for several years is that children are definitely growing up far too quickly. They are losing that innocence we associate with childhood at an increasingly younger age and are being prematurely drawn into the more adult world of fashion, sex and technology.

Girls are being encouraged by the media and fashion magazines to start wearing make-up and to pursue superficial beauty at an age where they should instead be enjoying their childhood.  

Take for example the subject of body hair. It’s not something I thought about until I became a teenager.  In today’s world, however, it’s not uncommon for first time hair removers to be as young as 9 and 10, while most 14 year olds sport perfectly manicured eyebrows.  But perhaps it’s not a surprising development given that well known depilatory products are now targeting younger markets.  In 2007 for example, Nair launched a “Pretty” line targeting 10 to 15 year old first time hair removers with an apple scented wax.  Nair’s marketing campaign for that particular product was based on the catchphrase “Pretty isn’t a look. It’s a feeling”.  Now that’s pretty powerful stuff when you’re a young girl moving into teenage-hood, feeling pretty awkward about the changes your body is experiencing and wanting to desperately fit it to a world that is, on many levels, based on superficial notions of beauty.

Web sites such as girl.com.au are also encouraging young girls to grow up much earlier than before.  The web site’s catch phase is “Girl Power – Empowering Girls Worldwide” and it does this by informing it’s target market (9 to 14 year olds) how to ”take advantage of your man and learn while you can” and informing them about anything from Brazilian wax to dressing like a star.

Personally, they’re not things I’d want my kids to read about when their as young as 9.  While I’m all for my 5 year old occasionally raiding my make-up box, I’m vehemently against kids stepping into an adult world prematurely.  Childhood is too brief a period. Why make it end even sooner?

And if we really want to empower our kids, wouldn’t a better way be to instil within them notions of inner beauty, kindness, respect and self confidence?  

I think my 5 year old said it best the other night when I was tucking her into bed.  We’d been at the shops earlier and had encountered a little boy in a wheelchair.  

Mama” she said “I am very grateful that I have been given legs I can walk with.  I must never forget that I am beautiful the way God made me and that I am special just the way I am”.

Although her little speech was based on prior talks we’d had where I had tried as best I can to get her to appreciate good health and her own uniqueness, I found my self with tears in my eyes and a wonderful warmth in my heart as I replied “Yes darling, you’re special just the way you are. Never ever forget that, especially when you’re all grown up”.

I won’t” she promised and I silently prayed that she wouldn’t.


Do you believe that kids are growing up much earlier than before? Have any of your children grown up far too quickly and how did you cope with such changes?  Do you believe web sites such as girl.com.au are empowering our children or do you share my view that self confidence, gratitude and timeless values such as kindness and respect are more meaningful and lasting ways of empowering our kids?  I’d love to hear your views and stories.

#2 kbing

Posted 24 February 2009 - 03:23 PM

What a great read and unfortunately all too true. Our kids are growing up way too fast. There is so much pressure to mature well before their time. Why do p.s aged girls need padded bras and g-strings?? High/chunky heels used to be for the dress up box and now they are available to 5 year olds. As for teen magazines/sites, well don't get me started! Yes I giggled over dolly and cleo in my teenage years - but exactly my point - I would have been a teenager. At nine I was still playing with my dolls and living in a world of blissful ignorance where I didn't understand what a brazilian was let alone ask for one. I hope that my 3yo DD doesn't get caught up in all of this modern day madness, although I don't think that we will get much choice!

#3 courtneysmum**

Posted 24 February 2009 - 03:27 PM

yes they are! thats the simple question there is far far too much pressure on these kids to grow up when they are clearly not ready.

Wiht regards to that 13 yr old dad i was shocked when the reporter was asking how they were going to "financially" support their child and he said what does that mean  ohmy.gif  and here he was about to 'raise' this child.

#4 chaosprincess

Posted 24 February 2009 - 03:36 PM

I definitely think some children are growing up too quickly.

But last I heard the 13 year old dad story had been discredited - it was a scam by the 15 year old and her family to make money selling the story....

#5 Aquarius~

Posted 24 February 2009 - 03:41 PM

My son has been using a computer since he was 2 years old back in my day I wouldn't of had a clue how to work a computer at age 2. So yes our children are growing up quick.

#6 *Ghania*

Posted 25 February 2009 - 10:26 AM

Kbing, I agree with your comments. I was also in a world of blissful ignorance when i was nine and while i wish the same for my girls, the reality is that they already know too much! But here's hoping they keep away from the internet and especially age inappropriate websites for many years to come.

courtneysmum, I was also shocked when Alfie didn't understand what financial support meant.  Kinda sad, though, don't you think that he feels old enough to have sex yet is obviously too young to comprehend the idea of supporting another person.

Mel, thanks for your comment. It wouldn't surprise me if the story was indeed a scam, though on some level it would be a relief! The idea of that beautiful little baby girl having a 13 and 15 year old as parents really made me feel sick.


Aquarius, i agree about kids being more tech savvy these days. My 6 year old is able to confidently search the internet, can google and has no trouble operating almost any mobile phone! The computer skills he's picked up at school, but the mobile thing is purely by observing how the adults around him do it.  I had no idea how to use a standard phone when i was 6 and when the internet was first introduced to me at Uni, i was totally overwhelmed by the idea! But kids these days take technological advances in their stride and are not phased by the latest gadget or development.

#7 pearlnorma

Posted 25 February 2009 - 11:27 AM

OH MY GOSH!!! Yes, I did hear about the 13yo, and yes I hated the fact that he did not know what 'financially' meant. I also heard that there were two other boys, 14 and 16yo, who came forward and said they could be the father of that beautiful little child. I just want to cry about the life that little baby is going to lead now if her parents are really that young that they obviously do not know how to support it. I have not heard about it being a scam. That is news and I would still feel very sorry for that baby that its parents would involve it in such a thing.

From my point of view I do think children are growing up too fast as well. I also think it actually has a lot to do with schooling and environment in those schools. They are teaching our children how to do things on the computers that I personally do not even know myself. Than again, my two yo taught me how to turn ours on - I am completely computer illiterate, I had to be taught first hand how to get this far.

I think in the way that the world is going, I would be very happy if my daughter waited until she was 16 to have her first child. But would she be just as nieve about things then? Gosh, I only learned about sex when I was 12. The thought to actually involve myself in it was just not there!

I do not at all agree with the things they teach children in schools today or when I was there for that matter. I would have thought they would actually teach how to make a pattern and how to read a ready made pattern in home ec, but not once did we even look at one. In mathes I would think they would concentrate harder on financial planning and buyng and selling houses, getting loans and the like instead of doing half a year of parabellers  ffear.gif  ssleep.gif !!!!!!!

I would like to know what we can do as parents to turn back time - for want of a better way of phrasing it - for our children so that they do not end up caught in the adult world so soon.

My DD is already telling me she is getting married to her imaginary friend and they have 6 babies and and she has another one in her tummy. She is 4.

I simply do not know what we can do to fix this. Is it really a problem? It used to be abnormal if a girl was not married off and and having babies by the time she was 16 - are we slowly going back to those days? If so, when are arranged marriages going to start popping their heads up? That is a scary thought.

#8 Yelpoch

Posted 25 February 2009 - 11:38 AM

Yep, they sure are.

I just try to focus on her being a LITTLE GIRL and doing things that dont focus on her trying to be older. We talk about grown up things, and we talk about WHEN SHE GROWS UP.

#9 jason2840

Posted 06 March 2009 - 11:47 AM

I agree kiddy parents is too young but contrary to the article this is not a new thing.

In England until 1929, and in Ireland until 1975,  boys of 14 and girls of 12 could marry without parental consent.   So it is not accurate to say our kids are growing up earlier than in previous times.     What is diffierent is today kids have "rights" and are not slow to insist on them.  In the "good old days" kids were to be seen but not heard!

Edited by jason2840, 06 March 2009 - 11:48 AM.


#10 janbabe

Posted 10 March 2009 - 07:21 PM

I agree totally, kids these days grow up way too fast! It makes me kinda scared for what sort of future my bub will encounter when he's a pre teen.  ddown.gif

#11 essentiallyme

Posted 01 April 2010 - 12:19 PM

Why isn't anyone doing anything about this tosser called wordolf357?



And on the original subject, yes they are growing up too fast.

#12 hickorydickorydock

Posted 01 April 2010 - 12:24 PM

Yep growing up way to fast and some of this I blame on the parents...

What happened to 12, 13 year olds climbing in trees making cubby houses, riding bikes, and doing normal innocent kid based mischief.



#13 ktb_au

Posted 09 April 2010 - 06:45 PM

Definitely having to grow up to fast.

The choice of clothes I see for young girls in particular makes me sad. All these tarty clothes lining the racks, that are obviously being bought, because if they weren't, they'd stop being supplied.

I agree with HDD... I also blame the parents. Trying to be best friends with their kids instead of setting boundaries and saying no (best friends can come later, like my relationship with my parents).

I used to work in welfare, and had a 1 year old client with a 13 year old mum. How does that happen???

#14 bubblegummum

Posted 17 April 2010 - 02:45 PM

I don't think they are.  I think that higher family incomes and technological progress have made some things more obvious.  I liked to listen to music when I was 11yo, but I didn't have an ipod like my 12yo because they didn't exist.  If I could have taken my music with me I would have.  

My 12yo dresses in a much more trendy manner than I did at that age but I tried!  My family had a much lower expendable income and there weren't the cheap clothes shops selling fashionable things like there are now.

The media also blows things out of proportion.  I knew a guy who became a dad at around 14 and that was about 20yrs ago.  But then those things tended to be considered a family secret.  

I think it's a bit like crime stats.  If the media wants to beat up about things being so bad these days and people want to talk about how much better things were in their day it creates a belief that it's true.

#15 beebeejaybee

Posted 17 April 2010 - 03:06 PM

I think it is niave to think that 13 year olds arent sexually active I also don't think its a new thing, when I was in year 7 (12-13 year olds) I'm now 27 .....it was common for girls to be discussing or bragging about their endevour in the bedroom with much older boys....I'm sure many weren't doing anything of the type but for many to be talking about it at least a few must have been doing it

I think when it comes to fashion ect children are growing up too quickly, I know of little girls that have lingere at 6 ...... I'd rather see them having singlet and knicker sets than lacy bras and briefs

but then children can only wear what is bought for them and read what is bought for them so perhaps the responsiblity lies on the shoulders of the people who hold the cash and pay for these things, with out consumers the product wont survive

#16 Jeneral

Posted 17 April 2010 - 03:18 PM

I think the issue lies not in taking away their innocence but in taking away their right to be children.  Where are the kids climbing trees, going to the park, riding bikes out the front of the house?
We are so scared to let our kids just be kids in case they get hurt or kidnapped, they are trapped inside with nothing but the media.  Take away the media - let them play - give them back their childhood.

#17 bubblegummum

Posted 18 April 2010 - 09:59 AM

I agree with the issue of kids' freedom to get out and play being restricted.  In this way I think this generation's emotional and social growth is actually stunted and it may well take them longer to be independent adults because they don't get so many opportunities to 'get out there' without adult supervision.  

I also find it a bit weird to be constantly told kids are growing up too quickly (my dd1 stopped 'playing' around 10-11yo, which I remember being the same time that I did, nearly 30yrs ago) yet according to the media they're also becoming mature and responsible a lot later.  They tend to get paid work later, they leave home later, they have families later.  

I come across so many people at my work who are still acting like they're in their teens well into their late 20s.  At that age I had kids and a mortgage and years of work experience!

#18 helena1965

Posted 30 April 2010 - 11:33 AM

QUOTE (bubblegummum @ 18/04/2010, 09:59 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I agree with the issue of kids' freedom to get out and play being restricted.  In this way I think this generation's emotional and social growth is actually stunted and it may well take them longer to be independent adults because they don't get so many opportunities to 'get out there' without adult supervision.  

I also find it a bit weird to be constantly told kids are growing up too quickly (my dd1 stopped 'playing' around 10-11yo, which I remember being the same time that I did, nearly 30yrs ago) yet according to the media they're also becoming mature and responsible a lot later.  They tend to get paid work later, they leave home later, they have families later.  

I come across so many people at my work who are still acting like they're in their teens well into their late 20s.  At that age I had kids and a mortgage and years of work experience!



I think it differs for each child and the dynamics of the family.  I'm a mum of one 5 year old girl and she seems to be in a hurry to grow up.  They are exposed to more stimuli than we were.  For some children not having unsupervised play in the park may mean watching TV, internet etc.  This opens up an entirely different world than the one that many of us had.  Perhaps, it's not about maturity, or growing up but rather childhood innocence that is the issue.

#19 Lia88

Posted 08 June 2010 - 06:20 PM

I won't say we should blame parents for that, but truth remains that their children is their responsibility in every phase of their life.

Although it is true that kids today grow faster. I would agree with some people when they said that as parents, we should set boundaries and limitations. They should not be given too much freedom to do what they want. Go out shopping and with friends but instead shop with them and set a curfew time when they go out. I also get sad seeing little girls dressed up like grown ups. We should somehow discourage them in some stuff like that, and its only one thing. Remember, most people look at our children as mirror of their parents.

#20 barbara1taylor

Posted 25 February 2011 - 04:42 AM

Definitely they are!

#21 MidnightDad

Posted 05 March 2011 - 09:54 AM

What utter nonsense. My mum was born back in the 1920's. Her birth certificate shows when her parents were married. Her parents were young and.... ohh ohh... the time difference between their marriage and her birth makes it crystal clear she was the product of out of wedlock passion. Kids don’t grow up faster, us old folks slow down. Always have, always will. Parents tell their kids to take time growing up, just as their parents did before them and just as their kids will, in time, say to their own. Come 2098 the same thing will be talked about.



#22 twotoddlers

Posted 14 April 2011 - 05:35 PM

i agree that kids are growing up too fast... makes me more vigilant that my own children always know whats going on.. whats right and wrong.. why some people behave the way they do at a certain age.. i remind them that something in due time.. and i try my hardest that they enjoy their childhood just as much as i enjoyed mine..

#23 anon60

Posted 14 April 2011 - 05:43 PM

Really? My parents generation (and older) left school and entered the workforce far earlier than I did, let alone my kids. My Dad & FIL were in their respective apprenticeships by age 16, my dad living at the Y in another state from his family. Mum & MIL were either at Business college or already in the fulltime work force. When I was 16 (mid70s)  most left at the end of Yr10 to pursue traineeships, apprenticeships, etc unless you were academically inclined and plannned to go to Uni or Colleges of Advanced Education (Teacher training). My grandmother and her sisters had left school by 14yo and either gone to secretarial school or learned a trade like millinery (Nana's sister was a milliner).

Edited by anon60, 14 April 2011 - 07:09 PM.


#24 BetteBoop

Posted 14 April 2011 - 05:55 PM

QUOTE (MidnightDad @ 05/03/2011, 09:54 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
What utter nonsense. My mum was born back in the 1920's. Her birth certificate shows when her parents were married. Her parents were young and.... ohh ohh... the time difference between their marriage and her birth makes it crystal clear she was the product of out of wedlock passion. Kids don’t grow up faster, us old folks slow down. Always have, always will. Parents tell their kids to take time growing up, just as their parents did before them and just as their kids will, in time, say to their own. Come 2098 the same thing will be talked about.


This. My great great grandmother had 16 children by the age of 38. How old do you reckon she was when she started?

Besides, in many countries people are parents by 13 and it's not even the subject of an eyebrow raise. In a lot of ways, our adolescence is more and more protracted. Bernard Salt the demographer says we have 'adult-lescents' who are up to 25 or 26 years old.

These kids have never moved out of home or been financially responsible. Sex is only one small part of the overall picture. The overall picture suggests many kids are growing up very very slowly, compared to previous generations.

#25 anon60

Posted 14 April 2011 - 07:12 PM

Yep, my parents & PILs were the generation that were born just before or during the 29-32 Great Depression & fought  or were teens through WWII. my grandparents generation saw many 16 yos & younger put their ages up to fight in WWI. I think our kids are being kept somewhat "Infantilised" by we, their parents.

Edited by anon60, 14 April 2011 - 07:13 PM.





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