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 lifestyle 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 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?


Did it work?


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., 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 negative 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.  


  1. I think giving kids too many things is not a good idea. I know some people who are living next door to themselves because their house is so full of consumer stuff people have given their kids. Like, it's okay for girls to go through a princess stage but giving a kid a 1:3 scale model of Disney's fairy castle is a little too much. And why any 7 year old boy need a 3/4 size 250 cc trail bike as well as a motorised go kart is beyond me.

    When I give kids presents I only have two criteria: Firstly, the toy must make the most irritating sound imaginable and secondly, they must use $400 of batteries per ten seconds.
    This way, the parents will say for every present or consumer item that comes into the house, a child must nominate one that they are prepared to pass on or let go of.
    This saves a lot of space and money on rent. It also reduces rampant consumerism and helps the environment. The more batteries a toy takes the better for the planet. Who needs a carbon tax when common sense would do the job just as well?

    I am able to decide what sort of present I want to buy [i.e. noisy and needy] because parents have no control over their children's upbringing, influences, training or destiny. All those parenting books proceed from a false assumption.

    Is Mayim's book a hardcopy or only available as an e book? I think I might find I have made my case about the environmental impact of parenting.

  2. Great article as usual;)
    Correct if I'm wrong, mold or mould?

  3. Reen and Meen,

    Thanks!! It's mould in the UK, and probably Australia.

    In America, it's mold.

    I did have to go look it up though. I thought maybe you were right and I had been spelling it wrong all these years!

  4. Fruitcake,

    We have the fairy castle, the bike, and the motor cart. We also have life sized stuffed animals, a mini Ferris wheel in our backyard, and a soda fountain machine.

    No, seriously though. Maybe we don't have that stuff. But we do have too much stuff.

    I agreed with a lot of Mayim's thoughts...including her view on battery-operated toys. I actually didn't mind some of them though. For example, we had a globe that said the name of the country when you pointed to it, gave info, and played the national anthem.

    I thought that was cool.

    What I hate is toys that are supposed to be for imaginary play. For example...a zoo that makes animal noises for the child. The kid should make their own animal noises. What happens (from my experience) is the child just sits there passively and makes the noise happen repeatedly. They don't actually play with the toy. Well, at least not in an imaginative way.

    So in general...for me. Learning toys-batteries fine. Imagination toys-batteries not fine.