Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hanging on to Innocence

I've had a few conversations lately about sheltering kids from things and I'm beginning to think that Chris and I are on the far end of the spectrum- keeping our kids very sheltered.

I don't remember Chris and I ever sitting down and outlining the things we thought would be ok to expose our kids to, but we're definitely on the same page and have the same ideas.

Luca is only 5 and Levi 3. To me, that's still so young. Their minds are very impressionable and their reasoning skills are not fully developed- meaning they can't always distinguish reality from fiction or situationally appropriate comments from those that are socially unacceptable. (I'm sure all of us parents have had the mortifying experience of our child asking all too loudly why someone is fat, or a different color or strange looking).

Chris and I have always been careful about our conversations in front of the kids. There are some things that children just don't need to hear- we don't want to color their views on someone or a situation just because they have heard one of us express our opinion.  On a few occasions, when having a conversation with someone, I've been surprised at how uncensored they are when their children are listening.  I just feel that some conversations are for adult ears only (and I mean just some topics in general). We never know what our kids are hearing and internalizing and thinking about.

And actually, I experienced the effects of this first hand one day last Spring. We live in a small town- everyone knows everyone. I substitute teach in the school here. I overheard one child talking to a friend (another child) about me, but it was obvious that what was said came from the parent- probably overheard while the parent was speaking to another adult. I just don't think that this is appropriate. I would be so upset if the situation had been reversed and my child repeated gossip that was overheard.

Chris and I are also pretty strict about what our kids watch.  We're "those" parents that don't let our kids watch much. Just this past weekend, we allowed the boys to watch Spiderman (the live action one with Tobey Maguire). Luca loved it, Levi was interested on and off. I think that Luca is at the age where he can watch things like that and be able to seperate what is happening as fiction. Levi is still a bit young and his interest only holds during the exciting parts. He doesn't care much for the story.

Luca is desperate to watch Pirates of the Caribbean, especially after our trip to Disneyland. Chris and I go back and forth on whether we are ready for him to watch it. There are some scary parts and I worry that he will have nightmares. I also worry a bit about the content. I do know that even when we allow him to watch the first one, that the next 3 won't be on our list for a while. The content, scenes and language get a bit more mature with each film. Pirates is one that he will have to watch with us after Levi is in bed because I am fairly certain that it is not appropriate for Levi.

We have cable tv, but not in a central location. Our tv is not on for long periods of time. The boys have dvds that they are allowed to watch but they don't often get to watch tv programming except for when we turn it on for them for short periods of time.  And because the option for cable tv isn't where we spend the majority of our time, its not a temptation to always have it on.

Luca loves to play on the computer. About 6 months ago, I introduced him to the computer after subbing in kindergarten. It was nearly the end of the school year and the students still needed so much guidance to log on and get to the program that I thought I would start showing Luca now so he was one less child to need to help once he got to school. Well, let me tell you- that kid is almost better at the computer than I am! 

Computers (and technology as a whole) are a big part of life now and will just become more prominent as Luca grows. Using a computer will just be second nature to him. We do allow him to use the computer on a daily basis but Chris has set up our computer so Luca has his own profile that he logs on to and we have chosen the sites that he has access to. He has quick links to the appropriate sites that have Disney games or learning games.  He's thrilled. He has about 5 different links that he can choose and that's more than enough for him.

I truly don't think that our children feel deprived by what we are limiting.  My boys are only going to be little and innocent for such a short amount of time. I want to keep them that way while it is still possible. It won't be long before they are being influenced by many things beyond what Chris and I can control.

Every family has their own ways of doing things and their own thoughts on what is appropriate for their own children. I'm not criticizing or judging anyone else's decisions. You have to do what works best for your family. I'm just starting to feel that Chris and I are on the very protective side of the spectrum and am wondering where everyone else falls.

What are your thoughts on conversations/ tv/ movies/ computer content that your kids are exposed to? Are you conscious of it? Was it a decision that you consciously made?  How do you decide what is appropriate?

I'm really curious to hear your thoughts on this.


Karyn said...


Someone once said "It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble."

Be the strict/protective parents - it is your job to protect the innocence of your boys.

But you knew I'd agree with you, didn't you? :)

TV.....We turned off our TV (and even put it in storage) for more than a year when our kids were small - no TV, no movies either except for special family nights.

Was great! Our kids found more imaginative ways to entertain themselves - (I'm sure you could tell me some of those imaginative things they did) - I do know they read more, played with toys more, and played with each other more than they had when TV was an option.

Children don't have to use their imaginations to watch TV and a child's imagination is a precious thing - one you want to develop, not retard.

Surprisingly, none of us became really 'hooked' on TV after we brought it back out of storage. It didn't hold the same 'allure' as it had.

Again, we do not have TV - and we do not miss it at all! (And gladly spend that 70 bucks on something else every month)

momof4 said...

We have the same issues in our household. Jacob was quite old (like 7) before we let him watch anything other than the standard Disney cartoon movies. We are still very strict about what they watch, but the younger probably get exposed to more than they should. I find it hard to find the line between letting the big one (or two) grow up and keeping the little guys little! You can definitely tell with Jacob that he is an innocent--but I really don't mind! The longer he stays that way--the better for me! WE love the computer in our home as well. The boys know I have a rule about no blood or violence in any game, and they know they will lose their privilege to play the computer if they are caught. They are surprisingly responsible! Nathan and Noah still get lots of guidance on the computer, whereas Jacob and Joshua get a little more free rein!

The Tompkins Family said...

We are also very protective. As you know, we don't have TV in our house so the girls are only exposed to what we personally agree to. I want to preserve their innocence for as long as humanly possible...without turning them into freaks at school!

Katie Attwood said...

We don't even have kids yet and couldn't agree more. There is far more degrading stuff on tv than ever before. I often wonder to myself how much less clothing could they possibly wear? Janice the way you worded it is exactly how I feel. My parents use to tell us to go out and play in the backyard, we would say we didn't know what to do, and my mom would push us out the door and lock it so we couldn't sneak back in. Sure enough by the time she was calling us for supper we didn't want to come back in because we were in the middle of some made up game. I think kids need to be stimulated because our society makes it too easy for them to simply turn their brains off. I for one feel like in the future our society will be lacking many social skills. I agree it is each parent's choice in how they want to raise their children. I just hope that they remember what an impact even the slightest bit of violence or nudity can have on their children and who they will become. Perhaps this route isn't the "easier" route but it will definitely make your boys better men when they grow up!