While perusing “The Store of Many Consumer Temptations,” also known as Target, I couldn’t help but overhear the cries of a small girl, pleading with her mother- with convincing tears, I might add- that she desperately must have the new Barbie with the Potty Training Dog. It was apparent that the mother’s objection to this toy was not pleasing to the child- and rightly so. I question Mattel’s inspiration for a doll that comes with a pooping dog and “fun, matching scooper.”
I stood nearby, waiting to hear the frustrated mom’s rebuttal against such a uniquely creative toy. The mom harshly replied: “Because I can’t afford that toy right now!” My immediate thought was: Really? The fact that this toy has to be the world’s worst Barbie ever has nothing to do with it? But my second thought brought me to a more profound conclusion: Maybe you really can’t afford a Barbie with a pooping dog at the fantastic rate of only $19.99…ON SALE! I Wonder why… Yet, does your four-year old need to know you can’t afford the toy right now? Should your four-year-old understand the mature concepts of money management?
Scenarios like this and others play out all the time right before our eyes. If you’ve ever experienced the thrill of a Little League baseball game, you know exactly what I’m talking about…the hysterical mom, screaming at the umpire for the bad call, as if the third grade Rangers and the Blue Hornets were playing in the World Series that Saturday afternoon. Or the mom who puts lipstick, dresses that cost more than my wedding gown, and cans of hairspray on their toddler for the sake of a beauty pageant. Seriously- why do we want our two-year olds looking like miniature teenagers? That time will be here soon enough- and I’m only praying for God’s grace to come back again before that happens!
Parents of our generation are making common mistakes all the time that are robbing our children of their innocence and plucking them out of the wonders and beauty that childhood offers.
We Tell Them Too Much Too Soon. Just like the devastated four-year old in Target, our kids do not need to worry about adult matters. Matters like bills and our checking account balance. Our children are not entitled, nor should they be permitted to a large explanation. A simple “No- because I said so” will suffice. They don’t need to worry about what we can or can’t afford. They just need to feel secure and loved. That’s our job- not to help them understand our complex adult rationale.
Our Kids Are Too Involved. Our kids’ schedules have become more hectic and busy than ours- dance practice on Mondays and Thursdays, swim lessons on Tuesday, piano practice on Wednesdays, and soccer everywhere in between. But running our kids around from sport to sport, practice to practice, play date to play date, is not only burning the mileage on the mini-van, but also burning out our kiddos. Kids need down time. Time to play, time to let their imagination wander, and time to simply relax. We recently had to make a similar decision to save our child’s childhood.
Joanna has been in gymnastics since she was three. She is now six. Simple math. She was invited to join the Competition Team at her gym- an esteemed honor for a six-year old. An honor that comes with a rigorous 8 hour per week commitment, not including meets and competitions. When I asked her how excited she was, I was perplexed by her response. She said “Mom, I just want to come home and play after school.” Even though my head was thinking: “But what about the Olympics? After all, don’t ALL talented children make it to the Olympics? But I was reminded…she’s SIX. I was still playing in the mud at six. There will be plenty of time for tumbling and other sports endeavors, but right now, she is content playing pretend and horses and coloring. How can I take away something so pure away from her?
Too Little Shelter, Too Much Exposure. We all know we can’t live in a bubble. Our children will be inevitably exposed to the harsh realties of the world. But we are often too quick to cast out the net, allowing them to collect all the pollution out there- movies, TV shows, video games and music are prime areas. I remember my mother rolling her eyes over Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, but their music doesn’t hold a candle to the vulgarity and disrespect of Nikki Manaj and other artists whose names are too weird to recall.
I am highly offended when I see a seven-year old boy play a video game containing guns, gambling, and even prostitutes. Even Christian-claiming families have allowed these kinds of toxicity into their homes. This example stands more firmly rooted on Biblical grounds. But even as the unbeliever who might be reading this blog, I offer this argument… for moral reasons and the sake of your child’s innocence, why would you passively allow such filth to corrupt your child? As a Christ-follower, I even find myself closely monitoring the cartoons- the PG rated cartoons- my kids watch, as there are many subtle adult humor sprinkled in there as well.
Remember parents, our children are learning. We are leading. Let them enjoy and embrace their childhood. Don’t take it away. Let them splash in the puddles and soak up every bit of innocence they can because it’s gone all too soon. Preserve as much as humanly possible!
For these days will one day feel like just yesterday, when they are asking to borrow the car and drive to the mall with their friends. Don’t be in a hurry for them to grow up and savor every piece of the now! And give them the right to just be a kid.
The Humble Homemaker