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Tuesday, 17 July 2012


Years ago, maybe 25 years ago, I coined a phrase, "hot-house-plant-kids" when describing children raised in the past 20 years in America and Great Britain. I am not opening up this discussion to Asians, please, as that is not the context of this post. This is about my experiences in the West.

The generation after me of parents, the Gen X and now Millennials, treated their kids like rare orchids, living in a culture of fear and over-protectiveness. This causes children to lack confidence in their real abilities and be grounded in their limitations.

I knew several families where the kids never walked even a mile or less to school in rural towns, which are still safe as Eden.

Part of the problem was the idea that kids had and have to do EVERYTHING. I am of the opinion that two extra-curricular activities are enough.

But not, little Carole or little Nicholas has to be taking an instrument, swimming lessons, ballet or baseball, and soccer or hockey.

Well, that meant that the kids spent a lot of time in cars and parents became chauffeurs.

Maybe I was mean, but my kid walked to swimming and was only in two extra-curriculars at a time. He took the electric train in Calgary all by himself at twelve. I did not want him to be afraid of new things and learn to cope with basic things, such as transportation. Now, I recognize that Calgary in 2000 is not Chicago in 2012. But, how do we train our children to be persons who can think and cope with real situations which are basically safe?

This was and is because I believe in both independence and PLAY. Independence creates confidence and the ability to think in terms of common sense. And hasn't common sense disappeared? Because kids are not allowed to do nonconstructive things or to figure out how to do something new and different, they cannot think out normal, everyday problems. They lack instincts.

Play is non-constructed creative time, using material hopefully simple and natural.

Boxes, string, marshmallows, pipe cleaners, paint, clay, etc.

I am against the "hot-house-plant" type of parenting.

Let kids be kids.


Ramona said...

Ahh yes, here in Calgary I refer to it as living and coping with my friendly neighborhood 'beige police'. You know the people who believe that beige doesn't offend anyone and we modern day people mustn't do anything that offends others especially like paint your fence blue or something. I have been told by the 'beige police' that my children should not be playing with balls in our own yard because one might go on the street and it would be very irresponsible of me as a parent to let one of my children get hit by a car. Yep, no balls allowed. I have also had my a 4 yr old walked to my door for 'getting in some trouble'. She was having fun pretending to shoot the squirrels with an obviously dinky toy shotgun, again in our own front yard. Of course the 'beige police' were troubled with a 4 yr old in a skirt playing with a toy gun (horrified actually). I was told, "people will think she must have gotten into her daddy's gun collection!" Yes, beige police to the rescue! No more outdoor fun, it MIGHT upset someone...oddly enough the squirrels didn't seem to mind and ironically the beige police didn't seem to mind upsetting my daughter to tears at the accusation of getting into trouble for something she had permission to do. However in Beigeland if you don't parent or believe in the mass media fad of the day and sit your children in front of a screen for umpteen hours of the day playing video games or surfing the net unsupervised then the beige police label you as a bad parent.

It's honestly made me think of throwing up a for sale sign and moving on but I'm not sure it's any different anywhere you go unless you are fortunate enough to live in a rural setting. I believe we live immersed in a culture of 'beige police'.

JonathanCatholic said...

I grew up with a lot of "play" in the way that you define it. Legos, other little building toys, books when I grew old enough; in general, that sort of free-play kind of thing. I've always thought that it helped me develop well - I hope to provide the same opportunity for my children.

Supertradmum said...

Ramona, yeppie. It is amazing that kids are so wrapped up in plastic wrap that they cannot be what they are supposed to be-kids.

Rural might be better. As those I know in Vermilion and Derwent what they think and I am sure they will agree.