Readers of my blog would know what I am going to say, “Stress hormones damage developing brains”, especially in teenage years when the fine-tuning takes place. More and more respectable research in the field of neurobiology shows just that.
I have met several Walking-Woundeds, namely the casualties of horrific childhoods. I have even picked a few up off the ground, adults who wander the world like hurt children, despite their outward successes. It is a lifelong affliction that many do not recover from, unfortunately.
Stress hormones have been found to be physiologically damaging. Scientists have found that excessive and prolonged exposure to stress in childhood and teenage years cause long-term neurological damage.
This is in addition to the heavy psychological damage that many carry within them throughout their lives.
People often say we are crazy to give our children a safe, magical passage into adulthood. “They would not be able to cope with the real world,” many said. “You need to be tough on kids to raise tough adults who will be successful in a tough world.”
NO, absolutely not. The real world is tough enough as it is. We need to provide a refuge for our children to come home to always, so that they grow with kindness rather than fear (which result in unkindness).
Example: last night, my daughter came back from a brutal football tournament. The team landed at the airport in the afternoon and played their first match at 8pm that very night. The goalkeeper in the boys’ team had six stitches under his chin after being kicked defending his goal. One of her teammates came home in a wheelchair, dosed up with morphine, when she went down in a nasty sliding tackle. It was such a bad accident that apparently, every single player on the opposing team bowed in silence out of respect when she was taken off the field screaming in pain. Another came home with a fractured arm. A few months ago, my daughter herself was knocked unconscious whilst going for a ball. But she went back to the pitch as soon as she could, totally fearless despite her horrific clash.
Reason: the home is a safe place and she knows she can always come home for her world to be alright again. She came home last night to chicken soup, garlic bread and green smoothies, and this morning, she was ready for her Chemistry test and in high spirits, too.
Chicken soup, garlic bread, green smoothies and a loving household on a Sunday evening to heal all aches and pains:
But giving children a magical childhood does not mean insulating them from the real world. Here’s my friend Richard and I at a local hospital in Phuket, sorting out a work placement for G. Unlike her peers who will be working in 5-star private hospitals, she will be working here (hopefully), in a public, free ward where conditions are not so rosy.
Of course, this is going to put her out of her comfort zone. Of course she will be stressed (probably for the first time, at 16). But she knows that home is just a short step away.
And this is her, skipping classes for the day to clean out a school for refugee children. Yes, she is cheeky and full of exuberance, ready to face the challenges of the world with a happy, strong spirit, despite having soft parents.
It’s easier to raise a whole-child than it is to mend a broken adult. So it really does make sense to give children a stress-free, beautiful childhood ❤