Ranging through time has allowed us to see that children have it much better than they used to. They aren’t treated like property, and have a much better chance of living to adulthood than they did a thousand years ago. Even only a hundred years ago. Getting away with murder is pretty much a thing of the distant past, as far as children are concerned.
And then there’s physical abuse. Our society is getting better at finding out those people who are hurting their own children. If you’re an anti-government fundamentalist who believes your home is your castle and you are the lord, tough. A child is not property, and the rest of us hope that your child becomes a productive and happy member of society. You may have created that child, but the rest of us are going to be working with him, meeting him for lunch, and maybe even marrying him. It’s in our best interest to make sure you don’t deliver damaged goods to the rest of us.
And here’s where it gets interesting. Because our time machine has shown us that parents can be tricky. When murdering children got unpopular, parents simply sold their children off as apprentices or slaves. And now that physical abuse is going out of style, those same parents (though born hundreds of years later) are turning to more subtle, less physical means of abuse.
I know of a young lady who is carrying some extra weight. She’s young, and she’s had a tough childhood because her parents are idiots. But the real issue for her is that her father is making his love (and financial support) conditional upon her losing weight.
To her credit, she has a good attitude (at least to me) and is making some effort at losing weight. But she is also having to bear this handicap bestowed upon her by her father. For the rest of her life she will think that it’s normal to play these tricks upon children, possibly her own children, in order to make them do what she wants. Or worse, these psychological abuses will hurt her chances of having her own happy life.
We don’t know, and can’t, yet. All I know is that this form of parenting is considered acceptable in our day and age. Perhaps someday the father would be found guilty of abuse and stopped. I hope so. Perhaps we can use our time machine to make the world better for my young friend.
Except it only goes forward at one speed.