MY THOUGHTS – By Rob MacLellan: What are we doing to our kids?

Published on April 14, 2017

I’ll tell you what we’re doing – in significant numbers of cases, we’re growing them up too quickly!

Recently, there was a report in this paper about the junior high school in Bible Hill cancelling its graduation and prom, and the first thought that came to me was, ‘oh what a shame!’

Then, I thought a bit more. Sure, graduation and prom have been traditions at the school for untold numbers of years, but my question is, why are these events even practiced?

These two things didn't happen in Grade 9 when I went to school, so these events are of relatively recent origin. Awards events for all grades at the end of a school year, sure, and maybe even a dance, or in my day, a ‘sock hop’ during the afternoon for the junior high grades.

Prom was a Grade 12 thing, as were high school graduation events, celebrating students who were completing their public school education.

Finishing Grade 9 is like, ‘OK, so we have three more years to go.’ Might as well have a Grade 6 prom. Grade 9 is like, ‘next,’ not ‘done.’ Students pass Grade nine, they don't graduate from school. Why would we have 14 and 15 year olds emulate the accomplishments of young adults who are finishing school?

It’s part of the societal problem of aging our children prematurely. Maybe we should just give all the grade nines participation ribbons; that’s more in keeping with what they have actually accomplished thus far.

Junior high school students are children, so support them continuing to be children. Why would you dress them up in fancy, expensive gowns and suits, slather them with make up, and convey them to the event in fancy rides? If you think about it, it’s like playing dress-up, like the children did when they were even more wee than they are now as early-mid teens.    

A quick walk-through of almost any junior high school will reveal large numbers of children adorned with makeup, abbreviated clothing, and other clothing designed to imitate adult idols or inappropriate role models; read thug-life, gangsta, or goth, to name a few choices.

Kids will be kids, right?

No, kids want to be adults, although this is nothing new. Children growing up with parents and other adult community members imagine a life where they have the freedom to do as they like with no one to tell them what to do; to own homes, to drive cars, to stay out all hours, to dress as they like, to date, etc.

In many cases, parenting has become far too liberal. Parents are permitting, even encouraging, their children adult freedoms without the responsibilities, and then they wonder why their children talk back or otherwise refute their parental authority.

These prematurely aged children take these attitudes out into the community and into the schools, and it creates problems. They run afoul of adults in the community who won’t take their sass and lack of respect, and in the schools, which are not nearly permissive as many parents are in their homes, we are seeing increasing numbers of children who exhibit behaviour problems.

Perhaps it’s time to rethink parenting strategies.  As your children get older, give them increasing responsibilities, and have them earn age appropriate freedoms. Until they reach the age of majority, remember, they are children.

Spend quality time with them, teach them respect for others and for themselves, and above all else, truly love them.


Rob MacLellan is an advocate for education and non-profit organizations. He can be reached at 902-305-0311 or at