Childhood should be about simple things. Simple things, like learning about themselves, understanding family, exploring the world around them, and ultimately finding their own path through life. But are these really simple things?
Each child is unique, but the process of development is not. The variables that go into a child growing to be an adult are as diverse and varied as the world around that child. How the parents interact, how the extended family is formed, how the freedom to explore is encouraged, and what future is laid out before them.
Science fiction writers often depict a Utopian world where we are all individually self-motivated, and inspired to achieve all we can, or we are shown a dark and foreboding world where life is a depressing struggle for survival at the very margins of existence. The question before each generation is what future do we build for those who will follow?
The reality is not far different than what fiction presents. If we cage the child’s imagination, or force it in a direction we prefer then we move that child to a dark land. If we condemn them with our pessimism and our bigotry, we reduce their willingness to explore what can be. At the same time, if we think we are doing them favors by laying out fantasies about the world; we shelter them to a point that when that shelter is removed they are blinded by the white light of reality.
There really is one simple thing. Children succeed or fail based on the parent. Regardless of however much the government directs or spends, if the parent does not inspire them to greatness they will fail.