This essay will aim to examine how childhoods have continued to evolve through out the centuries. To do this, characteristics of both modern-day and traditional childhood through three different aspects will be discussed. The first aspect centred on is how the many childhoods vary, influenced by class, gender, race, geography as well as place within the family unit. The second aspect deals with the contribution the family and its variants have on the children’s life, with the added input of both various cultures and community. Thirdly the way a child is able to be involved in and influence their own childhood will be discussed. This has changed especially since the Children Act “Rights of the child” (1989), allowing consideration to be taken into the child’s feelings and wishes in all things.
Traditionally, childhoods were found to be shorter by either poor health resulting in death, or by the need to work in the factories with little or no schooling. Modern-day research shows this to be very different with the 1989 Children Act bringing into force the right of every individual child to have a healthier, safe and educated life.
However, the child and the way he/she will experience childhood differs from child to child. This in many ways is predetermined from the moment the child is born, the position and situation of their family, with the experiences they face daily; from neglect to indulgence, abuse to security, and poverty to affluence. The experience could be one of loss of a parent or close family member or the sheer fear as a natural disaster affects their environment. However, having strong social links with networks of family and friends, being a member of a club or group, and feeling safe in the neighbourhood all offer a cushion against emotional damage, the findings from the Office for National Statistics study show. In the prime of their lives children have to deal with pressures and stresses of the adult world. Yet still for any child the most underlying need is to be wanted, loved and nurtured to thrive within a safe family unit. As identified by Field (2010) “The quality of this nurturing has a major impact on how well the children develop” (Field, F. 2010, p11)
Family units today have altered considerably. During a traditional childhood a large percentage of children experienced a nuclear family unit consisting of two parents and children. This would have been subsumed within an extended family unit, which meant that grandparents or other relations would be living with or near by, which in turn enabled more help with parenting skills and certainly more support for both child and parents.
During modern times the child is often no longer part of an extended family due to need for parents to find work in different regions, if any at all. This leaves a large void of help and guidance for both the child and parents. Johnston (2009 p.242) states “parents are motivated by economics which in turn forces them to travel further...