Are we building our families on the four pillars of “too much”: too much stuff, too many choices, too much information, and too fast? I believe that we are. But I also believe that we don’t mean to be. I know it for a fact, and I’ve seen it many times, that parents can bring fresh inspiration and attention to the flow of family life. – Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne with Lisa Ross, page XI, Introduction
I think the most well-meaning and loving parents can get caught up in this. This year, as many of my readers know, was a difficult one and has been a real wake-up call to me to cut my life, our family’s life, down to the things and the people that I hold most dear, the people and things that nourish us as a family. It is liberating, it is freeing, it is rejuvenating.
I think many parents actually have an easier time with going through material things and getting rid of and simplifying in that area. However, when it comes to “too many choices, too much information and too fast”, it can be more difficult. It also can mean hard choices. One example of “too many choices”, is in activities. Many of the parents I know whose children are involved in lots of activities are in them simply because it sort of creeps up, for one, and for number two, we are so lucky in these times that we live in that there are many good activities! At least, on the surface it can seem that many of these activities are “good”.
However, if we take a closer look, we see the displacement of the family life that “too many” activities cause, and also that many of the activities actually are “too fast” for the age. I posted this link on The Parenting Passageway Facebook page, but here is a good example by a noted orthopedic surgeon in regards to children in competitive sports: http://www.cleveland.com/dman/index.ssf/2013/02/noted_surgeon_dr_james_andrews.html
“Too much information” can also be difficult. In an effort to not be the strict authoritarian parents of the past and in order to be connected to our children, we often provide way too MUCH information about family life, our thought process, the pros and the cons, to children who do not have cause and effect reasoning as of yet. Yet doing all this is certainly not the best way to connect to children under the age of fourteen. Teenagers need more of the thought process, the pros, the cons, the discussion. Doing all of this with children under age fourteen often leads to children who can be very anxious, very involved in the adult affairs of the family and the other adults in their lives, and children who are really being taken out of their childhood years by adult thought processes. I know that is not popular to say, but it is food for thought. How many adult conversations is your child a part of, how many adult conversations are being held whilst your children are awake and hearing all the adult things going on, how anxious is your child? Step back and look at this and really meditate on this.
“Too fast” is also really tough to tease out. I see this a lot in parenting children post – nine year change and the very early teenaged years of ages thirteen and fourteen. Children ages nine through twelve do not yet have cause and effect reasoning. They are still in a stage of beauty in their lives, and therefore are not ready to hear about the very graphic details of things in life that are not so beautiful. You can touch on things such as war and such, for example, but what children of this age are really drawn to are the very heroic actions of great people during these times that were indeed difficult,but yet there was beauty there. I feel the curriculum of the Waldorf School does a wonderful job of bringing in historical events at just the right time. I see mothers all the time who really don’t trust the curriculum and how it is laid out, (which is fine if it is not for you!), but it really is beautiful if you can embrace it and trust it.
Children ages thirteen and fourteen still need strong, strong, boundaries. This is not the time to be so hands-off as parents that the children are too quickly moving toward things we were doing when we were seventeen and eighteen years old. Too fast, too fast!
Simplicity may be easier to attain on the physical level, but striving for this in the areas of choices, information and not bringing in developmental stages too early to our ten through fourteen year olds is also really important and worthy of your time and attention.