Saturday, September 8, 2012

It's Hard To Brainwash Your Child

I'm still watching Jedda.

Sarah McMann is working her butt off to keep her foster/adopted child from joining in any bits of Aboriginal Culture. She wants to protect her from all that.


I can't relate to Sarah McMann's racism; nor do I support it.

But I can relate to her wanting to mold a child into her own personal ideal.  

The movie really is a great companion film to Mayim Bialik's parenting book.  

As I said in my last post, there are things Mayim did that I wished I had done as well.

One of these is preventing my child from becoming such a major cog in the consumer wheel.  

I have failed miserably in this area. Jack wants wants and then wants some more.

He loves video games and electronics.  He wants all the new thing.  Well, not all of them. I'm exaggerating. Maybe. Let's just say he wants a lot.  

Mayim talks about this in the book. 

Limiting stuff shows respect for the earth and its resources.  By making conscious choices about what stuff we have, we reduce the mark we leave on the earth, and we show the ultimate earth-friendly gesture of consuming less.

I agree with this.

Our family's lifestyles doesn't reflect it.

We're major consumers.

I myself am maybe not that bad.

I usually buy used books.

I also usually buy used clothes.

I don't shop too often.

I'm not into buying the newest and coolest electronic things. I get attached to my old things, and am very reluctant to upgrade.

Tim's not like that...at least not to the same degree I am.   Though he's probably thrifty and conservative if compared to my parents.

Several months ago,  my dad bought us a new TV in our bedroom at the lake house. The TV we already had was perfectly fine. And we rarely watch TV in the first place. It was such a waste.

Did I try talking my dad out of this?

Yes.

Did it work?

Nope.

Jack is exposed to all of this.

Not many people parent in a vacuum.

We have relatives.

We have neighbours.

Many of us have a parenting partner.

There's school.

There's the playground.

Mayim does recognize that this is a challenge. She says, Will I be able to maintain this ban as my kids get older?  Obviously,  I won't have as much control over what they do when they leave our house and visit their friends in a few years.  

By the way, the ban she refers to is not on buying stuff, but watching TV. She believes TV will lead to the desire to buy stuff.

There's never been a point in my parenting life where I didn't feel other people had a huge influence on Jack's life.  Well...no, maybe that's wrong. Brainwashing might have been somewhat easier when Jack was an infant and not often interacting with others.

But we live in a situation where Jack very often sees extended family. They buy him gifts.  They share ideas with him. They model behaviors that might not be loved by me.

It's really hard to mold your child into what you want when other people are molding them too.

I guess you just be yourself and hope that they pick up one or two of your positive characteristics.

You set an example; then watch them follow someone else's example.

I love Jack.

I love him more than I have ever loved anyone.

It's not just because he's my child. He's a fabulous person.

I take a small bit of credit for that. And I'm willing to take some blame for his faults.

I give some credit to others for their positive influences; and I pass some blame to others for their influences

Most of all, though. Jack is Jack, because he is Jack.

I think he follows my example when it fits with his personality and destiny.

I think he follows other people's example when their behavior fits his personality and destiny.

Tim's parents limited his television watching when he was young. Did it help him to become a person who shows moderation in their TV habits?  No. My husband is often a couch potato. I don't think I've ever met anyone who watches as much TV as him.  

Jack has no limitations on his TV viewing. Will this free-thinking attitude lead him to be a moderate TV watcher? 

Not necessarily.  

Getting back to Jedda.....

I don't think it matters what color her skin is and who her biological mother is. Nor does it matter who raised her.  She's either the type to want to go on a walkabout, or she's not. 

I guess what this whole post is trying to say is that you can love your children and raise them in an atmosphere that makes you and your household members feel as comfortable and happy as possible.

But you can't really brainwash or mold your children.

It doesn't work.   

It will be interesting to see how Mayim Bialik's children turn out. They're quite young. The eldest is six, and the other is four.

Will they grow up to be as crunchy as their mum?  Or will they want to lead a very different lifestyle?

We shall see.

I hope we do see actually.  I think Mayim Bialik is a fascinating woman. I'd love for her to write an autobiography someday. I think I'd prefer that to a parenting book.