Friday, November 07, 2008

mini rant on parenting ahead

Although my politics may not be an indication, Kristi and I have a fairly conservative approach to parenting, even by the standards of most Conservatives, especially the kind you find in the suburbs. 

Our kids have set bed times which are fairly early. We try to be consistent when it comes to food choices, making them eat healthy, non-branded and not encased in sugar or preservatives- and no fast food (unless it is free kids meal night at Chic-Fil-a) and organic or natural when possible (but we are not Nazis. We allowed them to eat lots of Halloween candy). Kristi has a set afternoon schedule consisting of naps, homework and playtime until I come home. We even try to be good with discipline, our downfall. Our kids even get "grounded" which consists of sitting in the their room with no toys or books. We try to keep them away from commercial television, although that has become more of a challenge as they have outgrown Noggin. Luckily the library has DVDs and our kids have little downtime during the week. Finally, they have almost no toys, food, clothing, etc. with branding beyond the occasional sports team and super hero (dad's choice) and Little Kitty (mom's choice). We fail as often as we succeed, but we are trying.

I mention this because as they get older, this becomes more of a challenge. When they were smaller, we could act as if the world of Hannah Montana, High School Musical, Sponge Bob and Barney (they saw it once at grandparent's home) did not exist. We could act as if nobody took their kids to McDonald's or gave their kids sugar encased lunches. However, by sending our kids to school, they have become exposed to all of these new things and sometimes do not "get it" as to why we make different choices. We cannot tell them it is because we are better, smarter, or love them more, which they would understand (and I occasionally feel). We have to discuss life choices that are more abstract than a 5-7 year old can fathom at times.

What is amazing is how pervasive the market is. I have complained in the past, blogging on this subject on occasion, reading books, wishing the church would tackle the issue and wishing other parents would make my life easier by not buying their kids this crap (Thank God for school uniforms). The most frustrating piece for me is the capitulation to the market of most parents. Not only do they buy their kids whatever piece of crap they want upon the first whine, much of the time they introduce this crap to their kids because Mom and Dad likes it (eg. Jonas Brothers).

It irks me because I am not a ascetic that fights the market at all times. I just want to have limits. I want to say no and want other parents to say no to the market occasionally, even when they like something.

However, the limits are hard when my 5 year old knows the names of the Jonas Brothers when they have never seen a show or been exposed to them in our house. The limits are difficult when girls at school find role models in that Cyrus chick and become sexualized at a young age. It is especially difficult when you choose to run in the wrong direction from culture during birthdays, holidays and every time you are shopping. And, I am sure it will only get worse.

Ahhh. I sound like every other parent out there.

Anyway, here is a good resource

Once more, I wish Christian parents would tackle this and make resources for the church. However, it would be unpopular and some parents would complain that the church is judging them and coming down on them, when the church should come down hard on the sinners outside the church, not on their financial choices.


Dave Rice said...

Hey Old Friend,

As a parent of older kids, and one who shares some of your values, I do have some thoughts on your struggle. We don't do the food thing, but we are anti-consumerism/commercialism. We began encouraging our kids early to think about the things we do value, instead of dwelling on why we don't value the accumulation of junk. So, for example, since we value spending time together and sharing new experiences, we take a family trip together over Christmas rather than exchanging presents. I could be wrong, but I think our kids feel lucky, not deprived, because they believe they are experiencing things that are more valuable to them than the junk their friends collect.

One other key component of our approach: give them an allowance or a way to earn money. If they really want some piece of crap, let them buy it with their own money. This teaches them to really consider the value of such items. I don't know about y'all, but my anti-consumerism/
commercialism is driven more by frugality than virtue. Put them in a position to make hard choices about the use of limited resources and you might be surprised how quickly they come to see things your way.

Good post. I enjoy keeping up with y'all through the blog.

Congrats on your guy getting the big win. If he can govern as he ran, ignoring the lefty moonbats, he may just be a great president.

Hope to see you soon.

Dave Rice

Mike Murrow said...

Mark Twains advice, and I paraphrase:

when they reach the (pre)teens put them in a barrel and feed them through a hole. when they hit 16 plug the hole.

Rick said...


It is good to hear from you. I have been thinking about you a lot lately. Thanks for the thoughts on parenting. I think mine is also a bit of frugality. But, I know that my natural state is one of rampant consumerism and I want to give my kids the skills to say No as I have learned to, but was not taught.

I love the Christmas trip idea. I would love to do that, maybe when they get a little older and we don't have such grandparental duties.

I hope you are right on Obama. He impressed me very much in the election and I hope that discipline and temperament are there throughout the presidency. He has potential. But, I am not an idealist.. that is for sure.

I hope he figures out how to deal with the extreme left, letting them feel empowered and listened to- without doing much for them (Republicans know how to do this with the Extreme Right).

I hope he learned from the good examples on both sides of the aisles.

Let me know if you guys are heading to the Bay area any time soon.


Julie B said...

Well . . . we raise our kids the same way. It's easy now since our oldest will be 5 next month and currently at a Waldorf school . . . but thinking about grades, and do we do public school or not, Tim and I are wondering the same things. Those things and so many others that go along with it! :)

I think there are more people that think this way and so many more emerging all the time. Already in the last 5 years (since we were pretty much on board with these choices early) so many more people that we know have completely changed their standing on a lot of issues - no commerical toys, open-ended toys, organic food, no fast food, medicinal herbs, choices about vaccines and home birthing . . . just a more holistic view of life and way of living - eat locally, recognize the consequences of man and his greed, which is pretty much the corruption of many things, including food and nutrition!