The Mini- Rant: What Are We Doing?

My sister-in-law recently moved into a new house, and apparently the couple that used to live there had a subscription to a mainstream parenting magazine.  My sister-in-law passed it on to me since I have children and she doesn’t.  However, this magazine just floored me.

Almost every article in the magazine was tailored toward getting the preschool-aged child to be independent.  Separation anxiety?  They will get over it at summer camp!  Still sleeping in your bed?  Move them out, and here is how and they may cry, but that’s okay!  You will have your own bed back!  Here is how to help your child cope while they are apart and away from you when they are three or four!  You can make this work, everyone is doing it!

I was horrified.

This is what we are doing to children in our society??   Taking these TINY preschoolers, shoving them off into day-long commitments of daycare, preschool, lessons, like they are just smaller adults and should be able to handle all this?  Start early and fill them up to the brim like a bucket!  Shove their heads full of intellectual facts through every paper and pencil means possible but don’t think they need to experience anything hands-on first!  Make them independent because they have to learn how to do that now!

What a load of complete and utter rubbish.

Children under the age of 7 and even under the age of 9 are not ready to be “separate” from you.  They start separating from you, start thinking they are less of one unity with the rock on the ground and the birds in the sky beginning only around age 9 (unless someone has just intellectualized the devil out of them).  What about the innate beauty and wonder of what is INSIDE the child, the things the child brings with them to this Earth, what about the beauty of the child unfolding in their own timetable of maturity?

If I hear one more adult tell me how reasonable and mature their six and seven year is, or even their four or five year is,  I am going to just lose it.   They shouldn’t have to be any of those things, and yes, sometimes the circumstances of life forces things we would wish otherwise, but  the consequences of adults imposing adult-like patterns of thinking and being in the small child does have life-long consequences and does deserve consideration. 

Your children are still small, and yes, they are dependent upon YOU.  Younger ones are not only dependent upon you for their physical needs, but for their emotional needs and intimacy, but your older children are STILL dependent upon you for protection from themselves, for emotional intimacy and for guidance and  for learning for how to function in our society! 

A seven and eight year old will want to do EVERYTHING under the sun, and it is your job to help decipher what they can handle – and what they can’t!  Just because they ask you a million questions it does not mean you have to answer every question in a complete and detailed and serious nature – they may just as happy with a short answer, with a “I wonder”, with a “I had a lot of questions about that when I was your age as well!  When you are a little bit bigger we will talk about that, you and I!  Right now let’s go outside TOGETHER and look for ripened strawberries in the garden!”

That is the rub – children are many times into all these lessons, school, dry facts, long days, long explanations – because NO ALTERNATIVE has been presented by the parents.  And the parents say – well, they enjoy it!  They want to do it!  Yes, because they want to please YOU.  They ask a million questions because you answer them and give them ATTENTION for it.  Pay attention to your child, give them warmth and spend massive amounts of TIME with them – but don’t  confuse trying to fill up these basic needs of time, warmth, silence together, reverence and wonder, attention – with separation, pushing for independence at such a young age when THEY are dependent, and the need for attention that could be filled in more age-appropriate ways.

In this day and age, what a parenting magazine should be doing is supporting parents in the most challenging job they will ever have – being a mother or father.  And they should set the bar high by letting parents know what is developmentally NORMAL, what really is realistic and really what is best for children of different ages – not just the things that parents WISH were true so they could just “stuff” the kids somewhere into their already too-busy, overscheduled life.

I personally wanted to send a copy of Gordon Neufeld’s “Hold On To Your Kids” to the magazine’s editorial staff so they could read it.

Carrie

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9 thoughts on “The Mini- Rant: What Are We Doing?

  1. Hi
    Carrie! I have to tell you I am so new to the Waldorf method, but have always felt the same as you. It is one of the reasons I decided to homeschool my children in the first place.

    There is such a movement these days where parents are giving off their children to daycares, preschools and regular ed schools to raise their children. It is too long of a day for a 5 year old, let alone a 9 year old….. being gone that long and under the supervision and influence of a stranger, whom I have know idea what their morals, ethics, or beliefs are, is just wrong in so many ways.

    Didn’t God give me these children to raise in the way they should go? What are we as parents doing to our children? What kind of adults are we raising for this coming gengeration?

    I am not as eloquent as you are in putting thoughts to writing…but I whole heartedly agree!

  2. Do it! Send it to the editor! The reason my husband and I decided I should stay home with my kids is because at the ripe old age of 19, I was a preschool teacher. At 21, I was an assistant director and by 23, I was the director. I was good I tell you. I would not hesistate to delve into any personal aspect of the parents or child’s life and suggest where they needed to make changes or adjustments. Gosh, it embarrasses me to write this! By 24 I was feeling burned out and as I looked around this is what I saw:

    1. 2 to 5 year olds being dropped off at 6:00 am and being picked up at 6:00 p.m.

    2. Parents swooped in, “hurry, hurry, hurry” they’d say, “I have to get you home, make dinner and get you to bed.”

    3. Sometimes I would allow cots in my office so the kids could sleep a little longer in the morning since they came in so bleary eyed. I was told this was a no, no. How would they ever get used to the schedule?

    4. The kids always looked tired, the parents always looked tired.

    5. Kids crying for their moms. Some did stop right after mom left, some didn’t stop for 10-15-20 minutes.

    6. The kids ever in daycare were overscheduled, with every 15 minute segment filled with activity.

    I finally quit when I was told teachers were supposed to be directing games during out door time. So the deal when we got married was I was going to stay home and it’s turned into an extended stay since we agreed that I would homeschool :) I couldn’t be happier!

    • Alilda, All the things you are saying are all things i have seen with the mothers I work with and counsel everyday…..It is so sad that this is what is considered “normal” and how parents feel they have to do this.
      Thanks for your thoughts, well-worthsharing on this topic.
      Carrie

  3. Uggh, those parenting magazines that I flip through in the doctor’s office waiting rooms are the worst… full of advice on “sleep-training” your baby and such, making it sound like everybody does it and that you *have* to do it or else your baby will never develop “healthy sleep habits,” whatever that means! I think it is healthier that a 3 month old is waking frequently because it is a built-in survival mechanism for their under-developed systems. I’d be scared if my tiny baby went into frequent and prolonged deep-sleep periods alone!

    I have been surprised (maybe I shouldn’t be, actually) at how many people talk about their children going to pre-K because “they are bored at home” and “they are just ready for something different.” People also ask me, when I say that my daughter is not going to pre-K and I plan to homeschool in the future, “Oh, so you’re doing pre-K at home, then?” In the state of Georgia, it is not a requirement that kids attend Kindergarten, but you’d never guess that based on the trends regarding school enrollment.

    I attended Kindergarten as a half-day program back in the mid-80s. It was considered normal then… but by the early 90s, when my youngest brother attended, half-day K programs were virtually unheard of, sadly. By the time I taught 3rd grade in 2001-200, third graders in my school were only allowed 15 minutes of recess *one day a week*! The only positive there was that it allowed their school day to be a bit shorter, dismissing at 2:15… if they didn’t go to after-school care until 6, that is.

    It has been interesting to live through these changing trends in education attendance/enrollment… but I don’t think we are heading for something better.

    • I agree with everything you said here, Erin — You should definitely write something and put it on your blog!

  4. I’m with you on a lot of what you say. I am a strange Waldorf and Montessori mix and match mama. We do learn the alphabet and ect. I know you don’t support this that much…but my daughter does seem to enjoy it. I let her lead the time in school. However, I definitely spend more time in free play and exploration. Where I applaud you is your criticism of those magazines and their advise. After I had my daughter the pediatrician, friends, family—everyone was critical of my daughter sleeping with me. We took the necessary precautions to protect her from being rolled on and SIDS. Well she will be 3 the end of June and still sleeps with us and we are both happy. I believe it adds to our family bond. I would feel such a sense of lost to not have her next to me when I go to sleep and wake up. Some even criticized that I wore her in a sling when she was an infant saying I was spoiling her!! To me, it seemed almost cruel to take her from being used to being inside of me being used to my heartbeat to all the sudden seperate from her! At the time I didn’t know the term attachment parenting but I’d say I definitely fit it and still do. I don’t get why people were/are so critical of the closeness I have to my daughter! I also almost fume when I read other Montessori moms try to block creativity. I belong to a listserv and there have been several messages about moms freaking out because their children want to pretend and have fantasy play. Are you kidding me??? The pretend and fantasy was the sweetest part of my own childhood.

  5. I love this post! I have touched on this subject on my blog but have been trying to organize my thoughts for a post specifically related to this topic. My concern is that I will offend someone or start some type of controversy in my comments. (It’s funny that someone like me with such strong opinions about things is so scared of conflict!) Maybe I should just link to your wonderfully written post! I currently am still receiving “Parenting” magazine (a gift when my daughter was born). Every time I receive an issue, I get all fired up about many of the articles too! The subscription is just about to run out, and I will not miss it one bit.

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