As I draw closer to celebrating another trip around the sun, I’ve been thinking a lot about my childhood. My mind is fuzzier than it used to be, but there are still plenty of memories that stand out. 

I remember being about six years old, chasing lightning bugs in our backyard at dusk. I remember our gentle collie, Rebel, who used to roam all over Hoover, Ala., and eat barbecue sandwiches from Golden Rule Bar-B-Q. A child of the ’70s, I roller-skated, played kickball, loved playing “Barbies,” climbed trees, trick-or-treated in those suffocating Halloween masks, collected Charlie’s Angels cards, and survived eating Pop Rocks with Coca-Cola. This list of good times could go on and on. 

My childhood was not perfect — no one’s is without blemish — but for the most part, my parents and even society let me be a child. I’m very blessed. 

Fast forward to 2023. The innocent joys of childhood are rapidly dwindling, while perpetual adolescence is on the rise (but that’s a whole different story). 

Social media mandates that a user must be 13 or older, but we all know that kids as young as five are on TikTok, and TikTok influencers hold more sway over children than parents in some cases. Screen time has replaced outside time. 

Drag Queens have infiltrated library story time in the name of “inclusion.” Books about sexually explicit behaviors and choices are now front and center in some children’s sections during the month of June. And some middle school and high school libraries have books depicting graphic sex acts between teens. This craziness is deemed appropriate by school boards across America. But don’t try to READ an excerpt at a board of education meeting! Your microphone will be turned off because obviously, their adult ears are too pure to hear that smut. 

As of Oct. 4, 2023, Alabama’s Gov. Kay Ivey sent two letters to the Alabama Public Library Service. In her first letter, Ivey expressed her concern regarding books in the children’s sections of libraries across the state that expose children to age-inappropriate, sexually suggestive materials. One book targeted children between five and eight years old. 

The Prattville library contained a book for three-year-olds concerning gender-fluid pronouns. Three-year-olds. 

Ivey cited two other books in young adult sections of libraries depicting graphic sex scenes. Her perspective appears to mirror that of many parents: if children are going to see these types of books, it should be because a parent wants to discuss sensitive material with them, not because they are front and center in the children’s library section. 

If anything positive came from Covid-19 remote learning it is that home-based learning allowed parents to see what’s being academically fed to children. For the sake of our children and for the sake of childhood in general, it’s time to take back the reins of control.

Parents need to unequivocally stand firm and let the government know it does not own our children. They are not community property. It’s time parents re-engage in parenting on every front to let everyone know who makes the decisions for their children. 

I cannot tell you how to parent … but don’t you think your kids deserve a childhood?  The kind where they play on the playground in the afternoons and watch innocent movies about superheroes and heroines? The kind where they are not inundated with adult themes of sexuality or violence? 

They only get one childhood, and it lasts 12 years at best. If one lives to be 80, that’s 68 years of some form of “adulting.” At the end of our lives, it’s unlikely any of us will say, “You know what? I wish I could have had a less innocent childhood.” 

I am a substitute teacher. One day, I was helping as a P.E. aide when the coach took one of the younger classes out to the school playground. It was a beautiful day, and the kids ran, played games, and laughed as they enjoyed the sunshine and the fresh air during 30 minutes of free time. Watching them made me reminisce about the recess games we played in the ’70s. 

“This is what a lot of them are missing,” the coach said, standing next to me. “They need to run, play, and get outside in the sunshine. They need to be kids.” 

Amen. Let kids stay innocent for as long as they can. Let them have a childhood.

Kristin Landers is a substitute teacher and freelance writer. Landers’ previous work includes serving as Communications Director for the Alabama Policy Institute and working for Citizens Against a Legalized Lottery (CALL) to defeat legalized gambling in the state of Alabama.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to

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