Not Letting Kids Have Their Way is Destroying America


Have you ever wanted a kid to be quiet and stop drawing on the drywall with their own poop? Well, according to one psychologist, you need to knock that off this instant, because your prejudice against children— or "childism"— is ruining everything.

The late Dr. Elisabeth Young-Bruehl argues in Childism: The Prejudice Against Children that every time an adult fails to prioritize the needs of The Children above his or her own needs, that's sort of like being a racist. So, the emergency procedures lecture that flight attendants deliver before every flight where they instruct passengers to secure their own oxygen masks before helping those around them? Childist as shit.

Young-Bruehl says that childism is defined as the belief that children are somehow inferior to adults. This idea became embedded in American culture during the Nixon administration, when Tricky Dick failed to consult the children of America before vetoing the Comprehensive Child Development Act. And now, everything's totally fucked.

On a large scale, "childism" has manifested most dramatically in the attitudes of Baby Boomers, who Young-Bruehl says embraced youth culture for themselves before spending the next several decades prioritizing their own needs and status over the needs of future generations and doing totally lame things like not letting their kids use the car. On a macro level, they've charged The Youths with supporting their own prosperity.

While, on a large scale, her thoughts about the generational selfishness of Baby Boomers are salient, giving equal credence to the ideas of children is sort of patently absurd. Children are children because they haven't lived long enough to understand how to control their own impulses or developed the motor skills to be trusted with grown up scissors.

No, Skittles for breakfast is not an idea that warrants consideration. No, not everyone should ride gleaming white horses with pink manes to work instead of cars. No, we shouldn't clone dinosaurs so that all kids can have a pet triceratops. No, scientific resources should not be devoted to developing a nuclear bomb that will kill all the cooties. Yes, bedtime is important. No, you can't watch The Shining, even though there's a kid in it. And no, children should not be given the opportunity to wield kid-sized splitting mauls, no matter how much they wish they could chop firewood like their mommy or daddy.

There has to be a happy medium between "Quiet! Mommy's watchin' her stories!" and breeding a generation of little Verucca Salts ordering squirrel armies. And perhaps if we'd let kids vote, the current world of politics wouldn't be so overpopulated by mean old grouches and buttfaces.

An Ism is Born [The Atlantic]