Friday, May 06, 2005

You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman

by Marjorie
Natural accomplishment, eh? But remember, I'm anti-rewards, so my idea of 'accomplishment' probably also varies from that of many others.

I enjoyed Elizabeth's review as I'm sure I'll never read the book -- but it sounds as if Lareau is humming the tune "What Do the Simple Folk Do?" If I recall, the singers of that song ended up divorced with the wife nearly burned at the stake -- rescued by the dashing Lancelot but then cutting off her hair and vowing a life of chastity.

Wait, what was the topic?

I suppose the book discusses that the working class may not shuttle their kids around to activities because of the financial restrictions of their economic status. That could be the only reason why parents don't 'do everything possible to give their kid every advantage.' There are those of us who actually choose this way of life. We define 'advantage' differently. To me, the most important 'advantage' is copious time with my children and granting them the freedom to let their imaginations roam and look at the clouds instead of forcing them into an unceasing parade of activities in which they may have little interest. However, there is a big difference between taking a ballet or karate class and having every afternoon and weekend booked with lessons and tutoring and athletics.

I always wonder if the jam-packed schedules have more to do with the parents competing with one another than having to do with nurturing their child's talents. I think there may be a herd mentality, that 'everyone is doing it.' A recent Op-Ed in the Washington Post supports this -- she says twice that she sent her kids to camp for just that reason.

As to 'middle class' naturalists (unschoolers), there is a big divide in philosophy over whether to allow the kids unfettered access to TV, believing (and proving) that the kids moderate themselves eventually, and getting rid of the TV altogether.

Interesting book -- I don't see the need to lump people into groups. Anne seems to me to be interested in the sociological approach, I'm more interested in the psychological approach. I'm uninterested in the demographics and am more likely to wonder what it is about people that makes them choose certain approaches.


Blogger Anne Zelenka said...

I think part of the reason parents send their kids to various activities is because that's where the social action is these days. You don't find kids playing outside together much anymore for lots of reasons. Henry actually begged to take karate lessons and I'd almost prefer he didn't--it means four extremely inconvenient car trips a week for our family. I'm happy he's doing it though, for the physical fitness and mental discipline aspects of it, not because I think it'll help him get into Harvard. (I'd prefer a state school anyway!)

My mom definitely followed a relaxed approach to raising us. I've recently decided I'm not going to play with my kids on a regular basis--I'll read to them but it's not my job to entertain them 24x7. There's a critical mass of them now in the house that they should be able to have fun with each other.

As you surely know, there are two kinds of people in the world: those that divide people up into two kinds of people, and those that don't!

6:52 PM  
Blogger Marjorie said...

This is so true -- the days of having the kids go outside and immediately find playmates for tag and hide-n-seek seem long gone. Seems so much must be arranged in advance.

I don't think I play with my kids much -- I'm around and that seems to be enough. If asked, I'll play a board game or card games but they much prefer make-believe and I'm no good at that. I'm more of a facilitator -- getting out the art supplies, reading books, cleaning up...

Loved your last paragraph! So true ;-)

12:11 PM  
Blogger clanlally said...

I have to agree with my pal Marjorie. I've witnessed the competition between adults manifested in their kids' schedules. We have had a unique situation this past year. We had to take our 4 yr old out of daycare. She spent a lot of time with me and her grandmother. At one point, we realized she was REALLY missing the socialization. She wasn't getting to hang with other kids. So we enrolled her in some classes at our community center. Tumbling, ballet, crafts, science. Fun stuff. She's grown tired of tumbling and crabs as we wind down through the last 3 classes. But she loves her ballet class which is more than ballet. Its yoga, its creative, etc. I see the other parents (mothers...sorry) interact with each other. They are carnivores. I just want my kid to PLAY and maybe learn something fun or find something that she LOVES. At some point, I am going to go all ancient greek on her and require that she play a sport and learn an instrument. But not to keep up with the Joneses. I dont care about them. Its because I want her to be well-rounded. This is why, I think, that Sparky and I get along so well.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Marjorie said...

I agree that activities and classes are a great way to find socialization. There is a difference between encouraging your childrens' interest and over-programming them. Also, I'm always suspicious of the excuse that 'everyone is doing it,' whether its to emulate them, compete with them, or because its the only social action in town.

Finding socialization outside the realm of classes is possible, the parent just has to work harder to do it -- and with the internet, its not that hard. On some level, I feel I must be part of the change that I'd like to see -- its amazing what happens and who you meet when you 'swim against the current.'

5:02 PM  

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