Football practice, ballet, soccer, basketball, guitar, after school clubs, work, and numerous other activities are what now replace free play in the lives of many children. Gone are the days when children were expected to spend hours outside playing with the neighborhood kids, riding bikes to the park, staying out all day with the exception of coming in for meals or bathroom breaks. In todays society children spend most of their free time in planned activities. Free play has become a luxury. Past generations looked at childhood in a different light.
Children were expected to be children, to get dirty, to be loud, and to look to their parents for guidance and advice, not their therapist. The article I chose looks into the rise in childhood depression and the solutions that many parents are turning to; anti-depressants. The article is an editorial that is in response to two previous articles. The first which states that, anti-depressants such as Prozac work better on adolescent depression than talk therapy. The second article was of the latest fad, nannies at restaurants. The person writing this editorial found both of the above statements to be ridicules.
She goes on to say that the reason more and more children are being labeled depressed is because of the lack of time parents are now putting in to their children. My article also goes on to highlight a study that was done where 439 youths between the ages of 12 and 17 suffering from a moderate to severe depression were divided into four different groups that received either 1. Prozac only; 2. Talk therapy only; 3. Placebo pills; and 4. Prozac and talk. Twelve weeks into the study the evidence that was produced indicated that the children who were receiving the Prozac along with the talk therapy did best.
Although, those who receive only talk therapy did not do as well as those receiving only Prozac. The writer of the article is not surprised that those receiving the medication would show signs of improvement, obviously a mind altering drug would produce life altering effects. She then starts her conclusion which basically states that the cure for severe depression would include medicine, however the cure for what ails depressed children has to do with objectifying children, and molding them in to what the parents feels looks best or is the social norm. This is a topic that is very interesting to me.
First I want to look at the possible reason as to why this change in childhood took place. My first sociological explanation is that more mothers are going to work, which is leaving less time for the child to be in the home or with the parents. When both parents are working, the child is left unattended. To cure this problem more and more parents are desperately searching for free child care. The answer to these parents has become sports, lessons, and clubs. This is a way where the parents are seen as good parents who want their child involved, not as parents who do not have time for their children.
A second possible reason for this shift in childhood expectations is violence. Almost every night while watching the news, or morning while reading the paper, we learn of kidnappings, gangs, molestations, and so on. When a parent listens to the media, a fear is instilled. Children are less likely to be able to play outside at free will, or ride their bikes to the parks. In this instance parents find planned activities where children are playing, but still safe. My third solution and one I feel the writer of my article would agree with is, parents are too busy.
Parents today look for any out they can find to relieve them from their parenting duties. More and more parents are too consumed with themselves, and would rather their children be raised by strangers than have to deal with them. This is where the depression starts. First it could come from a child who is so exhausted by constant practices, games, and lessons. Sports and activities they once loved now become a chore to them. They continue on however, because they dont want to disappoint their parents who are putting constant pressure on them to be better, and try harder.
The fun gets replaced with stress. The depression also comes from never having a parent around who seems interested in your life or feelings. Parents who are constantly dumping their children with nannies, or leave their children to be raised by older siblings, are displaying to their child that they do not have time for that particular childs feelings. Children feel that their parent is too busy with their own life and the problems of a child, fails in comparison. More and more parents care more about the image of their family, than the reality of that family.
From class lecture I know that self medicating is not always the answer. There are numerous side effects and other possibilities of help. The parents who are so busy hear that their child is depressed, take them to a Doctor, give them the medicine, and go on with their life. A simple talk is not often what these parents are looking for, and a simple talk is, most of the time, what these children need. Children are being misdiagnosed everyday. A child who is in need of attention is given Prozac, a child who is full of energy, or in a lot of cases, just being a kid, is given Ritalin.
In my opinion medicine should only be given as a last resort. I am fully aware that in a lot of severe cases medicine is imperative to that persons well being. I 100% believe that those patients should be given medication, however in the cases of children I feel that most of the time attention, love, and understanding should be the first line of defense against the problem. The article places the blame on the parents, in most cases I agree with this. However, there are plenty of good parents who have a child with a mental illness, and no amount of talk therapy or patience can cure that.
It is a chemical imbalance that needs to be treated with medication. In conclusion, I feel that parents need to let children be children. Planned activities such as sports and clubs are wonderful, but when they become overwhelming to the child, it is time to call it quits. Being a child should be stress free and care free. Children should be able to talk to their parents about anything, and parents should always be available to listen to a problem their children have. Medication is not always the answer.
We can not give the impression to children that a pill can fix anything. Children need to be taught that hard work fixes a problem, that taking the time to talk and understand what is happening can fix a problem. I feel that some of todays children are over medicated and this will only lead to more problems in the future. Overall, we need to realize that kids will be kids and we as adults need to try our hardest to understand what is going on in their lives and then go from there, not rush them off to a shrink every time they get upset!