just when does childhod start and end

Interesting article in the NYT on some books about the history of the family and the role of children in them:

A good deal of our intellectual life in the past half century has been ruled by the following pattern: First, a French person, with great brilliance and little regard for standards of evidence, promulgates a theory overturning dearly held beliefs. Second, many academics, especially the young, seize on the theory and run with it, in the process loading it with far more emotional and political freight than the French thinker÷who, after all, was just ãdoing theoryä÷had in mind. Meanwhile, other scholars indignantly reaffirm the pre-revisionist view, and everyone calls for more research, to decide the question. In the third stage, the research is produced, and it confuses everybody, because it is too particular, too respectful of variation and complexity, to support either the nice old theory or the naughty new one

I was talking to some colleagues the other day and we were discussing when we sort of made the decision to take the path that we were going to take. I remember that I thought i was going to go into academia or engineering sometime when i was young around 8 or so, and that was pretty much that…. I knew i was going to college, and i knew pretty much that i would get a ph.d. …. However, you an talk to people who even have a ph.d. these days and they still don't know what they want to do, they hang in some sort of existential angst of choosing, not realizing that the choice is not really an issue, but they have to start pursuing, i.e. doing something. It doesn't particularly matter what you do in the end as long as it makes you happy, but to me it seems as if people are floating around much like they always did i guess wondering if someone will do something for them or whether the system will change and they will ultimately benefit…. its been my experience that this doesn't happen often. All in all my minor rant is to say for many people once childhood has been constructed into their identity, they never really escape it again…. they never find a way to take control of their life and move forward.