Raising kids today has been more challenging than ever before. Parents face more choices and problems in healthcare, education, transportation, safety, nutrition, and all other aspects of life. With advances in medicine, we are able experience improved fertility success and decreased infant mortality. While these advances allow us to become parents more easily, they don't help us resolve the challenges we face.
Today's children enjoy many conveniences and luxury the previous generations simply didn't have. Kids now have toys for every aspect of their development for every age, gender, and hobby. They play with video games, computers, iPads, iTouch, and smart phones. It's not uncommon to see a two-year old tapping on a smart phone and gets to exactly where they want to go. On the other hand, children also face their own set of problems that the previous generation didn't even think possible.
Childhood obesity has been a major issue discussed among physicians, educational institutions, government agencies, and politicians. With over 12 million children classified with weight issues, associate health risks later in life can significantly affect their quality of life as well as implication on the healthcare system. Quality of a child's life can be in jeopardy here. An obese child can't play the same way or participate in sports of his/her liking. Obese kids are also more likely to be bullied than their thin classmates. Such negative experience in the school may lead to anxiety, depression, social isolation, low self-esteem, and lack of interest in academics. The obesity issue has even caught the attention of the first lady. Mrs. Obama's childhood obesity campaign has brought much needed attention on the subject. Hopefully, with increased awareness and intervention, this obesity trend can be stopped, reversed, or slowed down.
Autism is also on the rise among American children. According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 88 children are diagnosed with autism. It's far more common in boys than girls. Celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy have brought more public attention onto the illness, but further research is needed to find a treatment. Currently, autistic children require extra medical and therapeutic treatments. These healthcare costs can add up quickly and present as tremendous financial burden for the average family. In addition, healthcare specialists are limited in this area, leaving many families waiting months, if not years, to get their children into therapy.
In addition to medical issues, environmental factors can play a part in a child's health and wellbeing. In today's world, we are surrounded by hundreds of chemicals on a daily basis. They are found in our walls, furniture, office supplies, shampoo, body wash, deodorant, nail polish, and the list goes on and on. The personal care products we use on a daily basis can contain a number of potentially harmful chemicals. These include sodium lauryl sulfate, mineral oil, DEA, MEA, synthetic fragrance, and more. Many of these chemicals are known toxic or carcinogenic chemicals, others haven't been research thoroughly. Daily contact with them over long periods of time can lead to a number of health issues, especially for children since their little bodies are just developing and are vulnerable to external factors.
As children get older, the challenges don't get any less. Parents just face a different set of them, such as driving and texting. This is a deadly combination. Roughly one third of drivers admit to sending or receiving texts while driving, many do so on a regular basis. This has become the new drunk driving. Car accident is already the leading cause of death for American teenagers, and texting make it more likely to occur. Multiple states have already banned texting while driving; others have residents lobbying for the same regulation. Courts are handing out tougher punishment for offenders, hoping to deter others from repeating the same offense.
There's no doubt that parenting is the toughest job on earth, but also the most rewarding. With the unique challenges parents and children face today, we all struggle to counter the problems the best we can. As more issues surface, there is more motivation for people to take the initiative to make a difference.