I have posted this online in the past. This information was intended to be presented in a pamphlet.
As a society we have many different niches to be filled by our members – young as well as old -. These roles have altered over the course of history and especially that of the child. It is hardly possible to explore this changing role in great depth in so terse a medium as this pamphlet, so we must adhere to an overview.Feel free to explore the topics we glance upon in greater detail on your own.
Children are predominately a state that is based not exclusively on their physical beings alone but also culture and perception. The roles that they have played throughout our history have been diverse. This is due to the perceptions of our culture when assigning roles to them. It is this perception that has resulted in different age-appropriate behaviors as mutable as the concept of child.
Roles have varied throughout history. Certainly the role of a child in ancient Rome would differ from Medieval Europe or early Twentieth Century America. For the purpose of this pamphlet we will focus on our Western Culture. It is common knowledge that children were viewed as miniature adults who were expected to contribute to society. This was reflected not only in their fashions but in age-appropriate behavior roles. Be they young Farmhands, Princes, Popes, Scholars etc. their roles were influenced by the adults about them yet taken very seriously. In Debtors Prison or Work Houses age was not a factor.
Through the examination of some contemporary cultures we see again a different perception of age-appropriate behavior. In certain Hunter/Gatherer tribes found in parts of Africa or South America the roles of children are more gender specific as opposed to age restrictive. Granted there were exceptions in terms of coming of age rituals. Nevertheless children in these cultures are expected to contribute. To speak also of certain war-plagued areas it is not uncommon to witness pre-pubertal children serving as soldiers. So it is again apparent that age-appropriate behavior is mutable.
Children by their nature are egocentric. They perceive the world about them as it relates directly to their immediate needs. Their perception of self is greatly determined through the behavior of their caregivers/peers. It is due to this fact that it is important to bestow a sense of high self-esteem through the acceptance of children as neutral beings. To allow them the natural curiosity to develop in a non-judgmental manner determines their future outlook on life in general. As boylovers we are gifted with this ability to bond with youth as peers. To allow them to lead us through their world and to be partners with them. This support is what children need. To partake in activities with them in our culture is often guided by age-appropriate definitions of behavior. Still these are in themselves mutable as are our gender roles.
Not only is age appropriate behavior based upon the culture/society of a particular time but upon time itself. Humans must learn that we are all living at the same time. We exist together in the “Now” moment. No humans live at different times. All Humans therefore must be regarded as the same; there is no greater then or less then. No Human knows how long another will be sharing this moment with us, that is why no Human has the authority to tell any other Human that they must wait to fulfill any of their desires. All Humans may do whatever they wish provided that they do no harm to others or to their environment.