In October 2020, I discovered I was pregnant with our first child. This was a surprise because we accepted the reality that it would not happen after five years of trying. We were overjoyed, but also experienced a lot of concerns about how to safely get prenatal care and have a child in the midst of a pandemic and a lot of social unrest. Until then, we could avoid going into stores or medical establishments.
Our son was born in July 2021. Covid cases were down in my area, but we were still careful. We take care of my disabled father, a veteran with a lot of risk factors that up the chances of a more severe Covid case if exposed, and if my husband and I were to get sick, we don’t have access to help with our farm.
After my son’s birth, I continued to stay at home and not enter stores. My son has not interacted with more than a handful of people over the last seven months. Recovering from a cesarean birth, working from home, and caring for him keeps me busy, but it also makes me think about raising a child during the end of a 4th Turning and the chaos of Covid.
Masking is not healthy for children for a variety of reasons. Consider the following:
- Masks contribute to respiratory distress and infection.
- Masks hide the facial expressions of adults, so babies and children at schools and daycares during the pandemic have not been exposed to facial expressions and the associated emotions. This means kids have a harder time knowing how to react to body language.
- An exceptional number of speech therapy referrals are occurring because kids are not learning to talk at a normal pace.
School: No talking during lunches
Kids need to talk with each other. This is a large part of how they learn to interact with others. At some schools, part of the mask mandates is that kids are not allowed to talk with each other at lunchtime. Asking school-age children to be silent during their lunch hour is, in my opinion, draconian and extremely harmful to childhood development. Being punished for speaking during lunch is nuts. Talking to another child should not be grounds for punishment.
The Fear Factor
When kids are raised in an environment of fear, it can result in depression, anger and stress. I am not around many kids, but I have talked to other parents, and I have noticed that when I am around kids, there are far too many that are fearful, jumpy, and show a lack confidence. There is an unnatural meekness.
I have some experience with this type of behavior. While my dad raised me, there were times when I spent time with my mother and her mother. They enjoyed nothing better than diagnosing a range of medical problems. They would tell me that I had scary medical issues and drag me to the doctor. I had a few kidney or UTI infections, and they told me that I might have diabetes. They were so convinced. I had to take a blood test to convince them. They made me a nervous wreck at times.
When I bruised my knees too much playing outside or skateboarding, I was told that it could lead to blood clots or blood poisoning. Eventually, I learned that they were just batty and I needed to ignore them, but I definitely learned fear and paranoia can be unhealthy learned behaviors that is unhealthy and extremely harmful to a child.
In the age of Covid, we have a large portion of society whose kids are scared to do basic things over a virus that typically doesn’t cause more than mild symptoms in children. More child deaths occurred last year due to swimming pools than Covid, but no one is talking about banning those, so why are we subjecting kids to draconian measures for Covid?
Not touching other humans is unnatural. Sure, we all need to know proper limits and comfort levels, but some level of physical interaction is part of what makes us human. Always staying six feet apart and seeing other humans as dangerous is beyond unhealthy; it is downright immoral to impress this belief on our children.
Kids are not allowed to comfort each other or play games where they interact closely with one another. This leads to arrested development and it’s going to be very hard, if not impossible, to make up for it as they get older. It is critical to learn social skills while we are young and as we develop.
Classes outside in cold weather, and open windows during frigid conditions is abusive and wrong
If you or I forced our children to sit and learn without heat, under very cold conditions, we would be charged with child abuse. Why are school districts getting away with this? Why is no one calling this what it is?
In January, the Boston school district forced forced children to sit in classrooms with the windows open despite frigid outdoor temperatures.
In other parts of the country, parents claim children are forced to eat lunch outside or conduct classes outside, even if temperatures are in the 20s.
Children are not dying of Covid at a rate that justifies this draconian behavior. In America, our most vulnerable and powerless citizens are being treated awful. The children are citizens we should protect the most from the corrupt system they are forced to be a part of.
Keep in mind, it is pretty hard for kids to concentrate on learning when they are trying to stay warm. In the case of Boston schools, parents were instructed to dress kids in multiple layers. Yeah, I know it is Boston, and most kids probably have a lot of winter clothing, but what about the kids that don’t have as many winter clothes as the wealthier kids?
How “the system” handles mental health concerns and behavioral issues
How we deal with the mental health of children and teens in this country is appalling. I realize that there have always been and always will be some people who have genuine mental health issues that are sometimes best treated with medications and therapy. Still, I guarantee you that we have far more kids that are diagnosed with problems and drugs thrown at the problem than actually need them. ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed childhood disorders. While some of the kids genuinely have a problem, plenty of them are just bored and under-stimulated.
If you ever take a look at a list of all the psychiatric disorders out there, it would be pretty easy to diagnose everyone with at least one of them because they are just more extreme forms of basic human emotions.
The problem starts the minute you walk into a mental health doctor or general MD. When parents come in, it is in the interest of the doctor to diagnose something, or the parent is not going to be happy. They paid for the visitor at least took the time to come in, so by golly, they better come out with an answer.
At this point, the child is labeled. They go to school and to relatives and proclaim their disorder like it defines them. I have never been able to get over how kids and parents will openly discuss mental health issues in public.
I get that parents want to help their children, but perhaps if a mental health issue is diagnosed, it should not be told to the whole world.
Also, consider that some children will use their diagnosis as an excuse not to improve. That sounds harsh, but I have seen cases where kids do not improve because they learn that if they do something that is not ok, they will face few or no consequences because it can be blamed on their diagnosis.
What We Can Do
Kids can tell when you lie. Even if they don’t catch you the first few times at some point, they will, and then you lose some trust every time they catch you until there is no trust at all and a lack of respect to go with it. There are some bad things going on in the world but trying to hide it from them does them no favors. You do not have to give all the gory details. There are ways, to tell the truth without doing that. Offer them advice on how you as a family are going to get through. This could mean telling them a bit about your preparations or how to deal with the emotional aspects of hard times. As parents, it is up to us to teach our kids to see the positive things and keep the big picture in perspective.
Stand up to inappropriate public school policies.
A lot of people are not in a position to homeschool or send their children to private school.
Parents are going to have to stand up for their children’s rights to learn in a good environment. I don’t think I am alone when I say that many schools have overstepped their authority. Schools should be places to learn the basics. Morality, sexual topics, religion, and politics should be left to the parents to expose their children to. Public schools need to be put in their place.
Private schools are a different matter. Private schools have taught curricula based on a belief system for many years. The difference is that parents choose to send their children to these institutions because that is how they want them to learn.
Homeschool or create our own small schools when possible
My husband and I both work from home, and our schedules allow for enough flexibility to make homeschooling realistic. With more and more people working from home, homeschooling families are on the rise. The COVID-19 pandemic led to many schools only offering remote learning options that essentially turned us in to a nation of homeschoolers. Consider the following statistics:
- Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey showed that the number of U.S. households homeschooling at the start of 2020-2021 doubled compared to the previous year.
- The Home School Legal Defense Fund Director of Research Dr. Steven Duvall discussed numerous studies explaining why you should choose to homeschool. The top reasons are:
Concern for the health of the student and other members of the home if they became infected with Covid, particularly with families with health issues.
Concerns over safety. Issues like school bullying, shootings, and other violence were high on the list of reasons parents chose homeschooling.
Unhappiness over the curriculum and lessons being taught.
There are options for parents who do not have time to homeschool
Get together a group of parents and hire a private teacher for your kids.
For some teachers teaching a handful of kids at home pays just as well or better than the public schools.
How might this work? Instead of 30 kids in a class, a teacher managing 15 homeschool kids can charge $500 per child per month; that adds up to $67,500 per year if school is in session for nine months out of the year. If it were just ten kids, it would still be $50,000.
In my area, the absolute cheapest private school is over $400 per month for ten months of instruction, and the class sizes are larger than 10-15 students.
Of course, there are challenges like having a space large enough to meet, how to handle lunches, operating costs, materials costs, etc., but for some parents, creating a private school with others is feasible.
In a two-parent home, it may more affordable for one parent to stay home
According to a poll conducted in May 2021, the average parent spent $750 on childcare during the 2020 school year and an outstanding $834 per month for child care during the summer months, per child. In the case of school-age children, these expenses are for child care that takes place outside of school hours. For two kids, this adds up to $18,336 per year.
Now, consider the time spent on your commute, gas, maintenance, a nice wardrobe, meals away from home, etc., and add that to the cost. Then there are the things you cannot put a price tag on: no one is going to offer the love and level of care that you will for your own child.
Plus, with all the available part-time, freelance, and remote jobs, it may be better for you and your child to stay at home. It is feasible to work from home while your kids are at school or are homeschooled (with the right arrangement) and be there for them during the time that you normally pay for childcare. You may make more money at home and not have part of it eaten up by childcare costs. You might save enough in childcare to pay for a private day school and avoid the public-school fiasco too.
Split the Work: Take turns teaching with other parents.
With so many parents working at home, some may be able to share teaching and childcare duties throughout the week without the cash outlay of hiring a professional teacher. Consider working with a group of families. Agree on a curriculum and suddenly you enjoy a division of labor and your kids have friends, classmates and social interaction while getting a homeschool experience. This is a great option for parents trying to keep their social group small due to Covid.
I discussed more homeschooling options in-depth in a previous PP article.
Think outside the box when it comes to child-rearing and education
I have voiced a lot of opinions and solutions that I think are worth consideration in this article, but I don’t know what is best for your kids. That is up to you. As parents, we need to consider the best path to take with our kids and listen to our instincts. You have the right to raise your child the way you want for the most part as long as they are fed, clothed, and not abused.
When it comes to education, consider that you don’t have to use formal textbooks or even sit inside in front of a computer. Science lessons can be done in the form of a nature walk. Geometry is a lot more fun if it involves building something.
Don’t let the state, other parents, etc., demand that you do what they think is best for your child.
Take steps that make children feel good about who they are
We live in a world where the blame game happens more often than it should. Children are asked to apologize and even feel bad about who they are. The sins of our forefathers are put on their young and innocent shoulders. Don’t let this happen to your child if you can avoid it, and when it does, be there for them and do what you can to make them feel good about who they are. Do not allow others to interact with your child that tell them that they are part of “the problem.”
Teach children to value all types of workers
For years children have been taught to look down on some professions even though those professions are necessary for society to function. Here are a few examples:
The average age of the American farmer is currently 60 years old. Although some younger people choose to farm, there are not enough to replace the number of farmers we are set to lose to either voluntary retirement or being unable to perform tasks due to age-related health issues. For years children were encouraged to leave farms and get a desk job that offered regular hours and a salary. Family farms have been sold to developers in many areas, making the land impossible to reclaim for farming. The costs and risks of starting a farm from scratch are too great for almost all younger adults.
I worked on a cleaning crew over breaks in college. We were in charge of cleaning all over campus, and it had to be done to institutional standards. I think it would do a lot of younger folks a lot of good to work on a cleaning crew for even just a week because then they would have a deep understanding of just what it takes to keep things sanitary and put together.
Don’t insist on a four-year college education to be successful
There are so many jobs that pay well that require a certificate, associate’s degree, or apprenticeship. Instead of going heavily into debt for a degree that a lot of kids are not that interested in getting, a young person can go to a less expensive community college or trade school for 1-2 years and start making money sooner. Part-time jobs or even full-time jobs are possible while going to school as well, so while a person may not make a high salary while in school, at least they are not racking up huge student loans with no guarantee that they will even use the degree they earn or find a job that justifies the expense in any way.
I was the first person in my family to go to college, and for me, it was a good choice because it helped me start living on my own, working, and meeting people after being homeschooled for many years. I also was given the impression that a college education was the only way to achieve that. Like so many of my generation, I learned that we were sold on that idea, but so many people started going to college and graduating that a college degree was not that special by the time graduation rolled around.
While doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, etc., are all necessary for modern society, we need more than that. We need people to do so many other jobs, and we need to make sure kids realize that these jobs should not be looked down upon.
I think that telling children that everyone is the same can do some harm. It is naive not to acknowledge that people have different mental and physical abilities. It is better to know and accept this and find value in people despite these differences.
Find ways to teach hands-on skills to the children in your life
Peak Prosperity readers have a ton of different projects going on that their kids can learn from. My husband and I have been homesteading for years. We built our own house too. Here is a list of skills that we plan on teaching our son as part of his education. What do you have going on that you can teach?
- Animal husbandry
- Butchering and processing
- Mechanic skills
- Bushcraft skills
The list above is just a few of the things we can teach hands-on at our place. These skills provide a framework for other lessons that could be learned in a book but can be taught hands-on. For example, when we are logging and getting firewood, we can practice tree and plant identification when it is safe to do so. Gardening is a great framework for teaching plant biology. Carpentry involves a lot of geometry.
What is your biggest challenge as a parent in the 4th turning, and what are you doing to address it? What advice do you have for parent’s facings the challenges discussed in this article?