Tuesday, May 11, 2010

teaching kids to think about media

one of the challenging aspects of parenting is teaching kids to think critically about the messages preached by American media. now, i'm not the kind of guy that can sit down and just consume a tv show, movie or even a commercial just for entertainment's sake. and i'll make a case that this is a good thing. :)

but how to help the kids? that's another story...and a very important one because without the ability to be "media literate" our kids will not be able to appropriately interact with philosophies that could be harmful.

last week, linda was reading a book to david that was obviously proclaiming a different belief-system than the one we believe and live in our household. here is an excerpt:

Deep in the woods, by the mossy pond edge,
a little duck asks,
"Do you love me, Mama?"
And Mama Duck says,
"Yes little one,
I love you as the pond loves you,
wide and calm beneath you,
giving you food and places to swim.
I love you as the pond loves you,
forever and ever and always."

the book compares the mother's love to several different things in nature, ending with the stars. as a follower of jesus, i don't believe that nature can love. nature doesn't have personality. the Creator God who made nature can and does love. now instead of throwing the book aside or just not saying anything at all, linda made it a fun game:

Linda - "Can a pond love you?"
David - "Nooo...." and on the next page,
Linda "Can the stars love you?"
David - (louder) "Nooooooo!"

and i think david is on a path to being media literate.

similarly, i think i've ruined our oldest son forever by teaching him to "spot the lie" in commercials. especially during football games, i like to ask "what does this commercial want us to believe?" oh, it's such a fun question to ask!

one day, i was not paying attention to the tv and caleb blurted out, "dad, that commercial said that all we need is love and that's not right. all we need is god." (it was a car commercial!)

those are some of the things that we are doing to help our kids interact with media. what other ideas have you tried? what are principles you want your kids to have in their connection with today's media?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

what if the oompa-loompa's are right? :) on Screen time as parent....

before we had kids, a co-worker of ours from michigan said that they only let their kids have 1 hour total of "screen time" per day. screen time was anything that involves a screen....TV, videos, video games, hand-held games, computer (not for education of course), etc.

radical, eh? considering most kids today watch four hours of TV alone per day. that doesn't include the other Screens.

linda and the kids just finished reading the book, charlie and the chocolate factory by ronald dahl. the oompa-loompas sing an insighful farewell song as mike teavee is taken away to be stretched back to size. they sing....

"The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, Never, NEVER let
Them near your television set -
Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen,
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out...
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink -
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?

this was written back in the 70s and most of the current generations only know life with hours of Screen time a day. another way is not even imaginable.

now, don't get me wrong...i know EXACTLY how difficult it is to not use Screens as babysitters. if Screen time is lessened, parents have to replace it with more time spent, instruction (a.k.a., discipline), and coaching (on finding things to do). Screen-time-as-parent-and-friend is deeply entrenched in a whole life system that we have grown up with in America. To suddenly stop using the Screens is extremely difficult...especially if you are a single parent or practically so.

we do go by the 1 hour of Screen time a day guideline...it's just a guideline. sometimes there is no Screen time...some days have much more.

i believe that the sacrifice will be worth it in the long run...and i keep telling myself that when i have a long list of things i'd like to do and i just can't fit it all in! :)

but according to the oompa-loompas, we're on the right track.

Monday, September 14, 2009

sheep catechism

one of the things i want my boys to know is WHO THEY ARE. i want them to understand their identity from a christian perspective: they are "little" men, made in God's image and the framework of their life is to love God and love people. i also want them to know that they are my sons and that i will love them no matter what.

just a quick glimpse into the way that i try to incorporate this into life with small children:

1) the sheep catechism
"is david a sheep" baaaa!!!! no!
"is david a horse" neigh! no!
"is david a dog" woof! no!
"is david a.....".....no!!.......
"david is a little man, made is God's image!" (with hands held high)

this one is fun for the 1 year old stage when they are learning animal noises.

2) the son question

me: "why does daddy love david, (or you)? because david (or you) are daddy's....."
boy: "son!"

this one is fun at any age and seems to only get better as the kids get better. goes good with a tackle. (i have two boys! :)

3) greatest command

jesus says that the one greatest command in the ancient jewish scriptures is "to love Yahweh your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength," AND "to love your neighbor as yourself." i pray out loud for my boys often that they will center their lives around jesus and his summary of the scriptures.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"Spirited" vs "Strong-willed" Child

Ok, so it's taken me a super long time to write, but I'm finally helping out here. :) Recently, (and by recently I mean a couple years ago) God has brought a few different discipline resources our way. For so long, we've felt stuck with how to best help our oldest son in different areas regarding discipline. Most Christian resources/people have basically said to spank or use other punitive forms of punishment. This was just not working for our son (or us for that matter). (Side note: for the first 3 years, I refused to call our son "strong-willed." This was mainly because just about everyone who has a 2-year old says their child is "strong-willed." So, I waited it out and sure enough after 2, battles were still tough and "more," as is typical for "spirited children.")

A book called "Raising Your Spirited Child" really put to words what Luke and I have been thinking for the last couple of years. We couldn't understand why the typical forms of discipline were not working for our child. This book describes so well the typical characteristics of a "spirited" (a better way for saying "strong-willed") child. It described how spirited children do not do well with things like time outs alone in their bedroom (because they'll tear the room apart). Another area to note with spirited children is that when left to cry-it-out as babies, they will often vomit or just escalate for hours/days.

When our son was a baby (and before I knew he was spirited), despite the norm, I really felt like we should not let him cry-it-out. Also, in the area of discipline and spanking, I've sensed that we shouldn't spank him either. Now after reading this book, I'm seeing that the God-given intuition was right. Spirited kids do not respond the way we want them to when using punitive forms of punishment.

So, as of right now, Luke and I don't have all the answers as to how each situation is played out, but I'm so grateful for this book and a few other resources that we've stumbled upon (more on those later...). May God give us the wisdom to raise kids that love God and others.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

world parenting styles

i just finished a book called "a world of babies: imagined childcare guides for seven societies" edited by deloache and gottlieb. i've read here and there that the foundational principles of attachment parenting are actually principles found throughout human history in most all human cultures, except for societies touched by Western culture. i wanted to find out if that was true, especially in light of the apparent relational and family breakdown so common in the West. (and in light of us trying some of these parenting ways.)

i think this book showed that the "new ways" of attachment parenting are just in fact "old ways." i don't know why, but that helps me out intellectually and emotionally.

now the big question on my mind....can attachment parenting really be done in our individualistic Western family setup? i.e., none of the cultures in the book let their kids "cry it out," but all the cultures have many people around to help take care of children. most other cultures live in community and can depend on others outside the nuclear family. hmmmmmmm.......

Sunday, November 04, 2007

shift two ~~toward interdependence

i'm suggesting on this blog that some of the cultural shifts happening in the US are affecting and will continue to affect parenting styles. now i admit, i might be just projecting my own perspective onto others, but i honestly don't think so.

the second shift that that i believe is core to changes in parenting style is:

a shift away from the values of individualism and independence to community and interdependence.

for parenting, this means that more and more postmodern parents are having trouble with some of the parentings style practices that have their roots in independence, namely, sleep arrangement, and crying it out.

i've heard many times that the reason that we want babies to sleep in other rooms, often crying themselves to sleep, is because we want them to gain independence. almost all other cultures throughout the history of mankind would look at the west and be appalled at this practice. but individualism and independence have been the hallmarks values of western culture and the grid through which we parent. sleeping arrangement almost symbolize the style and values of a people. if the core values change, though, i would expect sleeping arrangements to change as well. and i believe they are.

there is also a growing desire to live life more in community and with relationships center to life (versus careers, success and achievements.) a couple of years ago, the army had a catchy tag...join the army and be an "army of one." this catches the essence of a value system that is changing. many are seeing the negative effects of the "army of one" perspective. this value change is very difficult to practice because our living arrangements in the US (which each nuclear family in our own dwellings) were created under the old. now i admit, while there is a greater desire for life with relationships at the center, there almost seems to be another force pulling people into greater isolation. i wonder what will happen to living arrangements in the future? those two forces will collide sometime.

in the family, though, i foresee an increase in things like co-sleeping because more and more younger parents don't want their kids to be independent, but interdependent and able to depend on others in a healthy way, especially when they're young. (night-time is a scary times for kids.) since independence is a weakening value, letting a kid "cry it out" not only "feels" wrong to a some parents, but actually goes against core values of a new culture's beliefs.

so i offer thoughts on a second shift that has affects on parenting. i'm hoping this site can deal with theoretical things as well as practical things in parenting.

Monday, August 13, 2007

nascar toothbrushing

i came up with a fun idea to help my almost 4 year old son brush his teeth. he has a toothbrush with a little car on the end of it. i started pretending that the car was in a race and that brushing his teeth was part of the track.

when the car pit-stops, he spits. (ha, that's an unintentional play on letters ;)

of course we always win the race ;) and brushing teeth has become a lot less of a hassle!