Welcome back book-studiers! We are nearing the end of our discussion. We have one final chapter to cover next week, and then I hope to cover a few of the (really great) questions which have been brought up in the comments. All are welcome to join in that discussion, even if this is your first week to find us.
This week – Filtering out the adult world. One way we protect childhood is by acting as a “filter” for our young children – doing what they cannot yet do for themselves. This chapter gave some great practical tips on what things to hold back on while children are still very young.
Simplifying Screens – Learning to say “No, Thanks”
It’s so counter-cultural it can make you look a little bit (or a lot) crazy, but rest assured you can do this in a way that works for your family, and you may even find this simpler way of life is much easier with young kids! Kim says, “Choosing not to have a television, at least while your kids are young, does not say ‘Television is an unqualified evil’ or ‘We want to go back to life in the 1940s.’ It says, simply, on balance, ‘No thanks.’ It is a choice for engagement (with people, and the three-dimensional world) over stimulation, and activity over passivitiy, especially while kids are young. You will greatly diminish your children’s exposure to violence and consumerism. Most of all, you will expand-almost doubling, on average-your family’s free time.”
This chapter makes the strong case that limiting or removing television is one of the most powerful tools for a family who wants to simplify. Not only is there a new, safe space for children to develop slowly, but there is much more control of the messages targeted directly to children by marketers: What you have is not enough, You are not complete, You need more stuff (particularly the stuff we are selling!)
Some screen-time is harder to navigate for parents, because it seems educational, and often it is, for children of the right age. This chapter reminds us again, that what is good for an 8 year old is not necessarily beneficial (and may be harmful) for a 4 year old. I loved this thought – “How curious will a child be, how mentally agile, creative, and persistent in seeking answers to their questions if, from a young age, they learn to Google first, and ask questions later (or not at all)?” Hopefully this chapter empowered you as it did me – knowing I can say “No Thanks” to the popular push for More, Faster, Earlier.
Another place we can act as good filters is in the conversation that takes place around our children. Children are often offered too much adult information, too much emotional clutter, before they have built the foundation to process it. This chapter points out that too much information does not prepare children for the grown-up world, rather, it paralyzes them. With great intentions, we lecture kindergarteners about shrinking oil reserves and world hunger – these topics are popping up more and more in children’s books and on children’s TV. We may think we are helping to create young activists, but childhood is not a time for these anxieties.
This idea came home for me just last week, when out of the blue, my son told me he was feeling better, that he “wasn’t worried any more about a school bus falling out of the sky.” I had to think back hard to remember him overhearing a lighthearted discussion I’d had with my husband, about 3 months ago, about the school-bus sized satellite that was supposed to fall from space. I had not even realized he was listening!
I loved the simple rule of “True. Kind. Necessary.” for conversation around children. Before sharing anything, we can ask: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Imagine how much extra noise this could cut out in the world! And what a positive impact on our children this could have.
Some discussion questions (Discussion is in the comments below):
1. What is one step you feel is do-able in order to filter out the adult world for your children?
2. What benefits do you feel will come with simplifying in this way?
3. What was most interesting to you about this chapter and why?
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