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Childhood now ends at 11: study

There is a gulf between the parental code of the previous generation and the lenient attitudes of today's parents, with 55 per cent of parents saying that childhood is now over by 11.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, London
UPDATED ON MAR 03, 2008 12:01 PM IST

Childhood is the golden era in one's life. But, a new study has found that it now effectively ends at the age of 11 with parents increasingly succumbing to "pester pressure" from their kids.

Researchers in Britain have found that children are forcing their parents to authorise freedoms that belie their years in contrast with the traditional upbringings experienced by their moms and dads.

According to the study, more and more teenagers are being allowed to drink alcohol, stay out late, sleep over at their boyfriend's or girlfriend's house and have sex, The Daily Telegraph reported on Monday.

Little girls in particular are growing up faster than ever and they no longer want to play with dolls. Instead they go on to pierce their ears, dye their hair and prefer to wear fashionable dresses.

The researchers for the Ramdom House publishers came to the conclusion after carrying out a survey of 1,170 parents with kids under 18.

The survey has showed a gulf between the parental code of a previous generation and the lenient attitudes of today's parents, with 55 per cent of parents saying that childhood is now "over by 11" -- the tender age when children move from primary to secondary school.

Almost three-quarters of parents allow their children to drink alcohol at home before they turn 18, and 45 per cent of parents permit their 16-year-old children to spend the night at a boyfriend's or girlfriend's house.

More than half of children aged 16 and under are allowed to stay out past 11 PM, and half are permitted to dye their hair and wear make-up by the time they are 14. Some 57 per cent of kids are permitted to watch adult movies before the age of 18, compared to 46 per cent a generation ago.

Three-quarters of parents admitted that their children had scant regard for their authority and regularly acted against their will, with 72 per cent admitting that they give their children a far easier ride than their parents did.

Eighty-three per cent blame higher disposable incomes for turning rare treats into everyday purchases.

However, here's a suggestion for little girls from Dame Jacqueline Wilson, the former children's laureate and author. "I know girls are desperate to look cool but I wish they didn't all want to wear very high heels and inappropriately tight trendy clothes.

"I'm not saying all under-12s should wear puff-sleeved dresses and little white socks and tee-strap sandals but at least you could run about and play properly in them. And it seems so sad that girls feel embarrassed if they want to play with dolls past the age of six."

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