I’ve read the posts, scanned the news, and viewed the actual video. There have been insightful remarks, indignant reactions, and a lot of recoiling in shock and horror in the face of a pitiful display from a misguided young woman and a creep old enough to know better. Here’s where my thinking went in the aftermath:
Raising confident, emotionally strong and healthy kids is a lot of work. A whole lot of the time, if you’re doing it well, your parenting will be largely countercultural, and sometimes it’s not easy to be different. But a lot of the time it isn’t conscious decision-making; it’s just how you live:
-No child in this house watched television without a parent for the first five or so years of their lives. And when they did watch tv, it was PBS. Only.
-From day one we had books EVERYWHERE. We visited the library at least once each week. I read aloud so much I lost my voice regularly.
-We also had music playing almost every waking hour: classical, Cajun, folk, western, Celtic, African, classic rock. If we listened to the radio it was NPR or a classical station.
-The back yard was a huge adventure every day, and the setting for enormous imagination. From the sandbox and play gym to kid-constructed fairy houses and forts, with parent involvement or without. Plenty of without.
-The two girls and the boy in our house both played with “boy” toys and “girl” toys. The Girls were given play tool sets. The Boy was given a baby doll of his own. Everyone played kitchen. Everyone helped Papa with simple repairs around the house.
-We ate dinner together every evening. And we talked. Politics, history, geography, science, current events, stuff at school, whatever. Big thoughts, little thoughts, and a lot of laughing.
I admit it, we raised our kids to be nerds. Healthy nerds with an excellent work ethic, a strong sense of justice, and an interest in the world around them; nerds who could engage in interesting conversation with adults. Nerds who put everything they have into their schoolwork, their activities, and their life plans. Pop culture just wasn’t part of their growing up.
Here I will say, for the record, our kids are far from perfect. But I seriously doubt they will ever make the headline news for exploiting their own or anyone else’s bodies.
And I grieve for all the kids out there who are headed in that direction. Parents, dare to be different.
4 thoughts on “Raising Healthy Kids: A post NOT about a certain infamous former Disney star”
I absolutely agree! My kids are wee yet, only 8.5 (she’s really particular about that 0.5) and 5, and we have similar rules and traditions in our house. One family meal per day(my spouse is a physician, so it’s not always dinner – sometimes it’s breakfast). Lots of time outdoors, in the woods preferably. Olympic sports in the back yard; race tracks through the mud. And, admittedly, the occasional princes, though she only ever watched Snow White, which I found terrifying, but she really liked that the princess wandered through the woods talking to the chipmunks and singing with the birds… Thanks for visiting my blog!
And thank you for your comment. I think I would really like your kids! 🙂
I’m glad to hear that, Angie, and congratulations on raising nerds! I remember a friend saying when our kids were little and we were listening to some unusual (though not unusual for us) music, “Aren’t you afraid they’ll be super nerdy and won’t fit in at school if you don’t listen to pop music?” What a sad commentary that was.
You are my kind of mom! It’s sometimes scary to make a different choice than what’s usual and to face questioning from other parents, but ultimately we’ve got to make the decisions that we believe are best for our family. My kids are nerds too – well, actually we all pretty much are. But we’re okay with that!