|credit: 702 ABC Sydney, Amanda Hoh|
I know a young man. He has a kind disposition, a solid sense of right and wrong, and a trusting nature that sometimes lands him in trouble.
Throughout his childhood he was cared for with an attentiveness many kids would envy. He grew up in a loving family, was well educated, had tutors to help him through Maths and English, and he ate well with plenty of sport and exercise in between.
Let's call this nice young fellow Jack.
Jack was unique in one way. He did not grow up with his biological parents. Instead, the state and charities subsidised his upbringing for as long as he remained a child.
All of that changed when he turned 18.
Overnight - a rather arbitrary night in the scheme of a human life - Jack was an adult. A man. Someone required to vote in elections, earn his keep, pay taxes, fill out forms, and sign long and complicated legal contracts for mobile phones and utilities. For Jack in particular, becoming an adult also meant the immediate loss of all the financial and practical assistance he had enjoyed just the day before his 18th birthday.
Seeing Jack stumble through this monumental change got me thinking: how well do we prepare our children for the adult world that is foist upon them so suddenly?
We spend almost two decades shielding them from the pressures and worries of the world.
And, in many ways, so we should.
But I like to think we can also help our kids learn to cope before the weight of responsibility is thrust upon them. To prepare them for what is to come.
This is part of the philosophy behind Crinkling News, Australia’s first national newspaper for children, which I have founded this year.
Young humans have a natural and laudable curiosity about their community and world. And they want to be a part of it, to have a say. Crinkling aims to satisfy both by encouraging them to read the news (presented in a child-appropriate way), read books, watch movies, play games, and write about their experiences.
When they wake on the morning of their first day of legal adulthood, I want our children to say with confidence: "I know what to do."
Saffron Howden is the editor and founder of Crinkling News, a weekly, printed newspaper delivered to subscribers' letterboxes. It is designed for readers aged seven to 14 years and has a complementary website. The newspaper will launch in April 2016. For more information, including article submission contacts and subscription details, visit the Crinkling website.