I can’t tell you who the author is – my husband gave it to me recently following a visit to the bookstore – and I don’t necessarily agree with all of the content but there are a couple of things that have really stood out to me. They include:
– Throughout the text there is an incredibly strong message around the importance of parents taking control of their children’s younger lives. Teaching them basic manners (please and thank you are never out-of-place); teaching them patience and gratitude; modesty and civility; and monitoring what they are consuming in terms of popular culture. The fundamental premise is that children cannot learn these things anywhere else. Yes – they can be reinforced in schools and by friends but ultimately it is the parents role to ensure it is learnt early and well. Obvious right? But how often do we consciously do this.
– The discussion around the pull and push of popular culture is also really interesting. The book makes some great points about the importance of monitoring what our kids watch. I can not tell you the number of times I have had the experience where my kids will be watching something I’ve not actually sat down to vet only to find that when I do get the chance to sit I am dismayed by the content. Why? Well I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there is an absolute plethora of “kids shows” that, in the interests of some warped sense of entertainment, portray the parents or carers as stupid, irresponsible, absent or easily influenced. I mean what is “Good Luck Charlie” all about and don’t even get me started on “iCarly“. Where did all these “adult kids” come from and what are they showing our kids is normal?
– The third clear theme in the book is that our girls will expect what we show them is normal. It makes some really interesting points about what has been lost as we have pushed towards equality of the sexes. Don’t get me wrong – I am very grateful to our forbears for creating the opportunity for myself and my daughters to vote, to work where ever we aspire and have control over our own bodies but I’d be lying if I didn’t also say that I wish men did still open the door, offer a seat, walk on the outside of the pathway. I also wish that teenage promiscuity wasn’t just accepted as a “normal” thing or that the idea that “it’s no big deal” to have young girls wear clothes that leave little to the imagination and make it difficult to tell if they are 12 of 22 is OK.
I’m not saying this book has all of the answers but I know since reading it I have made some changes that I think have added to my family’s life.
– We now make a point of all sitting at the table to eat dinner together at least 6 out of 7 nights. We set the table properly, wait until everyone is seated to begin eating, we talk to each other over the meal asking sensible questions and letting the conversation roam, we wait until everyone is finished before clearing the table and then we work as a team to put things away. It’s a lovely experience.
– I’ve gone out and bought the first season of both the Brady Bunch and Little House on the Prairie and you know what – my kids love it! The shows may be old-fashioned – mum and dad are together, there are plaits and pony tails and the big dramas revolve around previously unknown allergies, how to survive the bully at school and how to share limited family resources, but the story lines are innocent. They have good old-fashioned values – no violence, nudity or innuendo.
– I’ve become conscious of checking ratings before I say yes to something being viewed and if it says PG I sit and watch it with them to give them the Parental Guidance recommended. At first I thought taking that time would kill me – I mean television buys you the time you need to get everything done right? But I’ve actually found that i) I really enjoy watching the shows with the kids and hearing how they interpret them and ii) if I don’t have time to watch it’s nice to have the TV off and to see the kids find other activities to do.
– I’ve started talking really opening with my Mr 10 and Miss 8 about what it means to be respectful of others in a relationship. I call them on poor choices immediately and encourage them to see each other as people first and siblings second. I’ve also started talking to them about the importance of understanding that love does exist and that it is worth waiting for. Hooking up is not finding love – it is though a poor substitute that really doesn’t add anything to your life longer term except perhaps disappointment.
– And finally I’ve started really talking to my hubby about what we want our kids to know and understand. About how we can give our kids the confidence to not fall into this culture of early sexualisation and in-your-face violence. Of quieter Sundays at home and the ability to just relax into your own space with nowhere important to be and no FOMO (fear of missing out). I’ve even asked him to walk on the outside on a pathway! And again it’s really lovely to experience that with him
I’m not sure if any of the above will resonate with you – you may just think I have become one of the older generation wishing for “the good old days”. But if rather, you do think there might be anything in any of this I’d invite you to join me – maybe … just maybe… we do have the power to create a more refined culture in the future.
- Parents and Popular Culture…What do they think?? (pbandcmg.wordpress.com)
- Episode IV: A New Hope (grandrants.wordpress.com)
- All I Ever Needed to Know About Parenting I Learned from Carol & Mike Brady (blogher.com)
- 6 reasons to break your iPhone addiction – and play with your kids (michaelfoust.com)
- Should You Let Your Kids Watch the Soap Operas? (roomtogrow.co.uk)