Book Study Week 6: Filtering Out the Adult World

Nov 14, 2011   //   by Traci McGrath   //   Filtering Out the Adult World, Uncategorized  //  2 Comments

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.

Simplifying Conversation

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?



  • I haven’t had a chance to participate in the book-study as I had hoped to but, coincidently, I wrote about this very topic on my blog yesterday because I took my 3.5-year old daughter to a play on the weekend that was too above her. It was Anne of Green Gables the musical and it was hard for her to follow along and when the actors would yell at one another she would say “they are hurting my heart”. We left at intermission.

    1) Cutting out TV was most doable because I had decided long before I had children that they weren’t going to be raised by the TV so we don’t even have one in the house. Occasionally I have let my oldest (the 3.5-year old) watch a movie on the computer but even that I have stopped doing because I hate how she behaves after and she is just too young at this stage. But yes we often do feel like counter-culture freaks because we don’t have a TV. I remember working at Starbucks before I had children and people used to say “don’t bother talking to Melanie, she doesn’t watch TV”. They meant it in a light-hearted way but the message was that I couldn’t participate in idle chatter about what everone watched on TV the night before because I wasn’t watching TV. We all have our vices though – I spend a lot of time online and have had to cut back so my daughters don’t think that the computer is more important than them.

    2)The benefits are endless with not having my children watch TV. Whenever we have playdates with friends at some point the other person’s child will start asking to watch TV. This usually happens when there is a lull in the play and they don’t know what to do so they try to fill up that lull with TV. Since my children don’t watch TV at home it isn’t an option and they are learning how to keep themselves busy.

    3) The need to filter out adult conversation was the most interesting to me – and it is something that we are trying very hard to do at our home.

  • Q1 & Q2 About a year ago my husband & I started trying to commit to “adult time” where we sit down talk, giving each other our full attention, after we put my daughter to bed. This chapter made me realize that we need to save some of our discussions about work & the news for this time rather than discussing them in front of our daughter. At her age (2) I really don’t think it’s problematic yet but it’s a good habit to start now. I think we need to strike a balance between allowing her to be a part of our family culture & find enjoyments in our interests, i.e. I don’t think all dinner conversation needs to be at a child’s level, but at the same time we need to make sure we’re not exposing her to our adult stresses and worries.

    Q3. I liked the “true, kind, necessary” filter so much, more for my own self-improvement than anything! This is definitely something I need to work on. Gossip and criticism too often seep their way into our conversation. It is not how I was raised, not something I’m proud of, don’t feel this habit really represents who I am, and it is not an example I want to set for my children.


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