Posts Tagged ‘discipline’

From iPod to iPlay

I have to warn you this post will put me squarely in danger of being labelled an old fogey. Despite what you think I am not a hundred years old, please bear with me, I promise not to use the term “whipper-snapper” or “shenanigans” at all.

During this past March Break, I had 2 separate moments that caused me to consider the world around me, specifically the preteens I came across in two different places. I began to reflect on this incredible phenomenon of youngsters growing up too fast and whether or not this is something that I can control in my children (7&4) As I am a fairly observant person, I tend to pay attention to other people arround me when we are out and about. (my hubby calls in nosy)

I took the children to a local Maple Syrup farm with some of our friends and they spent the day learning all about the making of maple syrup, eating pancakes, petting baby lambs and playing in the giant playbarn. As I stood at the only exit to the barn trying to keep track of the multiple children we had brought with us, I was momentarily annoyed by a group of teenaged boys running and jumping throught the levels and obstacles of this big barn. I was worried that one of them would squish one of the little preschoolers toddling around, or worse, knock over my daughter. As I mentally berated them for being too big to play in here and wishing they would leave, I considered the value of at least approaching them and asking them to take it easy. When all of a sudden, it occured to me that these youngsters were just the sort of hooligans teens that I tend to see leaned up against the wall outside the local mall, up to no good, talking on their cell phones and listening to music with foul lyrics on the latest iPod offering. And yet, here they were running and jumping (using their imaginations!) in an innocent game of tag in a childrens play barn. Hm. Interesting.

The second event that sparked my interest was as I sat with my hubby in McDonalds the other day, when I saw a Father with two young girls pass our table with their meals. I would guess the young ladies to be roughly 11-13 years old. The were both furiously texting messages on their cellphones, it struck me that girls so young had cell phones (I know it’s common, but I still find it sad). Later on after our meal we sat and watched our little ones running up and down the restaurant playland and I was surprised shocked to see those same two young ladies come into the play area and take off their shoes in order to run up the inside of the play structure. I had to take a minute to be sure what I had seen; these professional texters dressed like Rihanna, were now careening down the slide in Ronald McDonald land! Huh. Very interesting.

Having had a few days to ponder these things, I have come to the conclusion that children these days are in fact growing up too fast, which is no earth shattering revelation. However, what I think people have failed to realize, is that children don’t necessarily WANT to grow up this fast. Deep down inside, I believe that our kids want to play and have fun; sometimes they have grown up desires that will hurt them in the long run, but it is our job as parents to help them make more appropriate choices. The media tells us that children have the right to make all their own decisions, that they have spending power and therefore must have the wisdom to know how to wield said power. Not only is this selfish of them for trying to sell their product but it is a lie. Similarly, and lottery winner who becomes an instant millionare does not necessarily have the financial wisdom to properly care for and spend their new-found fortune. Children and teenagers need guidance, not to be controlled, but guided into making choices that will be in their best interest. I believe that is why God has given them parents, we don’t give birth to children and them push them out of the nest to fend for themselves. We are supposed to teach them, guide them and even sometimes deny them something that will be less than beneficial to them. It’s how we show them that we love them.

Think about when your child was small, you didn’t let her eat the whole bag of halloween candy right? Why? Because it would have made her stomach hurt. You didn’t let your son ride his bike off the roof into the swimming pool even though he thought it would be fun right? Why? Because as his parent, you had the wisdom to know it was a bad plan even when he couldn’t see the possibility of injury. It’s our job to see those dangers and to protect our children from all manner of harm, even when they think they know what is best for them and what they are capable of handling.

I wonder sometimes why parents feel that they HAVE to give their children all these new “toys” that come out like cell phones, iPods, laptops etc. I know my opinion is unpopular (it often is) and sometimes comes across as judgemental, but the truth is parents all over are caving to the pressure from their kids, the television, movies, AT&T and MTV. My biggest concern isn’t even that parents are buying their children cell phones, my biggest problem is that they don’t see the tremendous disservice they are doing towards their offspring. Children don’t need any more help growing up too fast, it’ll happen whether we encourage it or not, but why accelerate that maturing if we don’t have to?

Does anyone besides me even remember when we were 11 and 12? We weren’t watching shows filled with sex and drugs, we weren’t texting our friends and spending 6-8 hours a day on the computer. We were having sleepovers with nailpolish, potato chips and freezing each others bras. We were flipping through Tigerbeat magazine, swooning over Kirk Cameron (uh oh, I’ve revealed my age) not counting the bracelets on our arms to see how many dates inappropriate sexual encounters we’d had. Is no one paying attention? Doesn’t anyone see that deep down these kids just want to be young and play like children? We are not helping them by letting them do whatever they want, they won’t thank us for it. Trust me.

I for one, will continue to monitor what my children watch on t.v and in the movie theatre, even if they claim that the entire school has seen the latest vampire movie. I will decide what time my children go to bed based on what I know to be a healthy amount of sleep for children their age, regardless of how many times my son tells me he doesn’t need to go to sleep before I do because he’s not tired. I will determine what music, video game and internet usage my children are exposed to despite the ever increasing number of children under 13 on facebook. I will continue to do innocent fun activities with my children like snowball fights and hide-and-seek, assuming that they will have fun and making sure that they have lots of non-electronic, child-friendly leisure activities to choose from.

Maybe these teeny-boppers are just waiting for someone to invite them to put down the cell phone and go play in the playland with them. Maybe as parents we should put down OUR cell phones and do the same.

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Have a New Kid by Friday

“Have a New Kid by Friday”…that’s the title of the book. Sounded good to me, it came highly recommended so I bought it. In my excitement I didn’t consider the fact that this would not be a book on how to swiftly alter my children and form them into the perfect little angels I imagined they could or should be. But in fact the author in his wisdom had discovered the key to improving the behaviour and attitudes of our children, is to work on our own attitudes and behaviours as parents. WAIT just a MINUTE!!! That’s not the book I ordered?

As I made my way through the book I realized the author was right. Am I inconsistent with consequences? Am I trying to mitigate every mistake I have made with over indulgence? Do I nag my children? Do I automatically assume that they will make wrong choices and therefore “warn them ahead of time” only to find that they adequetely fulfill my negative expectations? How am I doing at encouraging them and being supportive, or am I quick to point out how they could do things better and more efficiently? How about letting circumstances teach them? Do I quickly meat out consequences or let them learn the pain of loss due to their own bad choices?

The questions are seemingly endless, and I dare say I will have to repeat the book. But I have begun to evaluate the “molehills vs mountains” that pop up in our daily life. I must learn to be consistent and not back down, the children will respect me more for following through, in the long run if not immediately.

I’m starting to think that in order to get my “New Kid by Friday”, I am going to have to work awfully hard at becoming a New Parent by Wednesday at the latest…hmmmm

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