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  • Jolene Roehlkepartain

Childhood: It’s a Tough World After All

It’s isn’t easy being 4. Or 7. Or 11. Or 16. Young people today deal with many tougher, more serious issues than kids did 20 years ago. “We think of chronic stress in children and teenagers as the societal equivalent of climate change,” say William Stixrud and Ned Johnson, authors of The Self-Driven Child. It’s “a problem that has been building over generations and will take considerable effort and a change of habits to overcome.”

For too many young people, this is not the age of innocence.

I live in a middle-class neighborhood with a top-notch public-school system. Yet, young people in our community struggle with big issues. One high school student worked full time to help his parents pay the bills—while trying to fulfill his dream of going to college. A grade-student student lost her mother to a drug overdose. A teenage soccer player asked his teammates if he could live with someone because his family was homeless at the moment.

Other kids, who have loving families, scramble to keep up academically—and with schedules that make my head spin.

What happened to times of stillness and silliness? Where are the long hours of reading a good book? Why has inviting a friend over to play become such an unusual experience for kids today?

It’s time to slow down. To spend time together, playing, reading, and hanging out. It’s time, to develop everyday practices to de-stress and step away from our tough world.

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