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Feeling frustrated... commercialism related

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
My 4.5 year old daughter spends a lot of time playing with the neighborhood kids in our cul-de-sac. Lately she has become more acutely aware that her toys are not like the other kids toys, which are pretty much all related to TV shows or to toys highly advertised on TV. Also, my daughter's play is more "generic" where the other kids play out the disney or TV themes.

Of course I am very happy that my daughter is being self-directed in her play, but on the other hand, she is starting to be left out of the other kid's play, and she is trying very hard to understand their commercial culture. There aren't very many kids for her to play with who come from families with a similar interest in being non-commercial (AP does not equal non-commercial), and quite frankly it is just too convenient to spend time in our own cul-de-sac, especially since I have a one year old in tow.

I'm just feeling depressed over this. Almost like I should throw in the towel and let her watch TV and just get with the corporate program. I feel resentment that I am always struggling with which DVDs are okay or which toys are okay... truly trying to figure out the benefit (or detriment) that each object or experience will have on my kids... while other parents just don't care and they (both the parents and the kids) seem happier! They just go with the flow and accept it all... and the kids grow up just the same.

It shouldn't have to be this hard!
post #2 of 20
I totally feel your pain. There are lots of other parents who care though. And I do believe the kids are different. If you spend your childhood playing real games and developing your imagination based on things from the world around you and your own head, that is gigantically different then playing out some adult's pre-created scenarios.

We're media free, and a Waldorf family (non commercial, mostly only toys made from natural materials) so in general we're not like anyone else on the street.

Yes, your dd will probably be fine if you give in, but I'd have to say that I think my kids are happier, and more well adjusted in their daily life without media or a commercial influence. I think my dd (9y) is pretty great and she has no idea about the Jonas brothers, texting, or the general sarcasm that passes for humor in the mainstream media. It's nice, she'll know soon enough, but for now my kids are having an actual childhood.

Not that you have to go the Waldorf route, but maybe see if there is a Waldorf-influenced playgroup you can connect with. In general those families won't have the commercial influence that is so common.
post #3 of 20
This does seem like a frustrating situation. I just want to you encourage you to not give in! How is she being left out? Is she being ignored or does she feel she can't contribute to the game? I'm sorry I don't have any advice, but hang in there! (My kid started singing the Power Ranger's theme song and it's from playing with his friend at the sitters so I know my day is coming.)
post #4 of 20
Actually, while we are pretty much TV free, our children have been able to pick up on the current trends pretty well from school friends. My 5 year old son know all about Power Rangers and Superman from school friends, but I doubt that he even knows what they look like. My now 8 year old daughter was all agog about Dora the Explorer. So I went ahead and got her the book Dora the Explorer: The Essential Guide, which gave her the lowdown on who's who. So if it does not bother you too much, you could buy or get from the library a book about the character(s) so your daughter will get the gist of the storyline of the various popular characters in your neighborhood.
post #5 of 20


Our dd is starting kindergarten in the fall and we're hoping things go well. I do truly believe it DOES make a difference. Perhaps you can try to find more like-minded folks even if you have to travel a bit.

Anecdotally moms always love visiting us because the play at our house isn't TV/movie/commercial character-script based. And the kids hate to leave. I do find it frustrating that like-minded families are few and far between, but I don't for a minute believe we'd be better off letting our kids watch Disney et. al.

Good Luck!
post #6 of 20
It might be a stage the kids in the neighborhood are going through. I can tell you it is an absolute non-issue with my two older boys. They are aware that other people watch tv and that a lot of conversations touch on tv-related themes, but by now (9 and 7 yo) most of their play away from home is sports-related. They listen to the Yankee games on the radio and read the sports pages so they keep up.

DD's play is closer to home, and her primary playmates are her brothers. Her one great pal is homeschooled and is a minimal tv-type family so this hasn't come up. My guess is that it is more likely to be an issue with girls this age, and that this will become less significant as your dd gets older. I hope so for my dd's sake, too.

I do really think it makes a huge difference on so many levels. I'd stay the course. I don't think you'll regret it!

FWIW, like expecting joy, my house is a place kids like to come and play. We have a nice big yard and kids who are always up to something. I worry about what will happen when they are tweens and maybe will want to watch tv in dark basements and pay video games, because I don't want them doing that at other people's houses. But I'll cross that bridge later. And I'm thinking there is a good chance my kids won't really develop in that direction with enough sun, surf, books, sports and real live fun. Here's hoping anyway!
post #7 of 20
I just wanted to add that the book You Are Your Child's First Teacher : What Parents Can Do with and for Their Children from Birth to Age Six by Rahima Baldwin Dancy has a bit about what happens when TV free children play with children who play with characters from movies/TV. It's an interesting read.
post #8 of 20
I'm with ya. I also think my neighbor is slipping Disney into my kids' drinks when they are over there... but that's another story.
post #9 of 20
Just plop that baby boy in the ergo and come on over for goodness sake!



You know where we'll be all summer. In the pool and in the dirt.

Seriously, Z has had this happen on a micro scale with some of his boy friends. He resolves it by (1) choosing the girls over the boys because "girls know how to play with their imaginations instead of copying super hero TV shows"
And (2) I talk to him about being the kid who sets the tone for the group. I tell him he can say "Hey I have a different idea, let's play explorers instead. Let's play animal rescue guys instead. etc etc" All very alluring games, but maybe ones kids who have their story lines scripted for them haven't thought about.

In general though, we have made an effort to seek out low media families (except for Miss T, but funny enough she NEVER talks or plays her shows) and for me it's worth the schlep to have playmates with common values.

Call me, I'm up.
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your replies and great ideas. We're not running out and buying a TV, but my frustration continues. I love my neighbors and my neighborhood, but I am starting to be glad that we're planning to move (not that I know that my new neighborhood will be better).

Today... the first sunny day in a while... my daughter, son and I were all playing outside when four neighborhood kids come out to the "island" (a common space in our cul-de-sac) where we were playing, each wielding their "DS." I just learned what that is today - a dual screen hand held video game. It was a gorgeous day, and they are all sitting in a clump playing video games! Well, my daughter gave me a sheepish look for permission to go over and peer over their shoulders. I could tell she was a bit jealous, yet at the same time she doesn't make a big deal over it. It is as though she just knows that we are "different." It is so hard for me to explain to her why we don't have TV or do lots of video gaming (we do some on our iPhone, though). But then...

Earlier she had found half a robin's egg shell and she was busy making a temporary nest for it and was excited to add it to her nature box. While the other kids were zoned out in their games, she decided it was boring and resumed playing with her egg. Soon enough the other kids became more interested in what she was doing, and then they came over to see the contents of her nature box. It was grand! And then I was floored... a 5yo girl who lives across the street picked up an exoskeleton of a cicada and asked what it was. When I told her, I said, "ya know how a catepillar makes a cocoon?" Trying to sort of make a comparison to what an exoskeleton is... and she said, "no." I said, "do you know that catepillars become butterflies?" "No." She is five years old!!! I could not believe it. Here was a girl who could name every Littlest Pet Shop character, but she did not know that catepillars become butterflies. And her mom is a school teacher!

So while I know my daughter will be better off for the path we've chosen, it is still hard. She feels left out when ALL the other kids are playing video games. How do you all explain it to your kids, yet without insulting the other families you know who DO have TV or play video games?
post #11 of 20
I grew up without a tv, and we (kids) didn't like it. We loved going on vacations so we could watch tv or going over friends houses. But we had so much more fun than our friends with tv's. I am so glad we didn't have a tv. I wish I didn't have one now, but I don't own the house, so it's not my decision. I never put on kids shows though, so my son basically ignores it.
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shell View Post
So while I know my daughter will be better off for the path we've chosen, it is still hard. She feels left out when ALL the other kids are playing video games. How do you all explain it to your kids, yet without insulting the other families you know who DO have TV or play video games?
My husband LOVES video games, and I heartily enjoyed them in my youth, so our kids will eventually have them. What I *plan* to tell them is that we feel that video games are okay for kids of a certain age (over nine or ten, maybe) & they can have a system then if they like. Just like different families decide which tv shows, books, or movies are okay for their kids to see/have, this is what Mom and Dad have decided about our family and video games. Think of it like an R-rated movie. There is nothing wrong with adults seeing an R movie, but it is probably not okay for a seven-year-old. We would have no problem telling our 7 yr old "no" to an R movie, even if some of their friends have seen it, but waffle at things like video games b/c they are "for kids." That is why I think, much like R movies, an age-type of restriction is a fine limit to set for things like video games or tv shows.
post #13 of 20
I love the idea about getting the BOOK with the characters!! Sort of a low-impact exposure. Ds is just a toddler but we will have this issue for sure when he goes to school in our mostly mainstream area. Thanks for the tip!!
post #14 of 20
I'm sorry but I don't think you need to get a book about the stupid characters. Aren't you different then them. What would you be teaching her by doing that? We don't want to be like them but to fit in you do need to know about "their world". NO she doesn't. And why does she NEED to fit in with them? Leaders aren't pp who try to fit in. Leaders are people who know who they are, know they have a purpose and seek wisdom and tools to accomplish their purpose. Kids need direction and confidence. Trying to be like and understand their video game world will do nothing good for her. What will it be after the video games? Clothes, make-up, sex, drugs? Seriously. She doesn't need to fit in. I personally wouldn't have my child playing with those kids. She needs to learn about life from you mom, not those kids. Growing up, I never fit in. I grew up on a farm and most the other kids in school lived in town. They all "hung out" together all the time. They'd go to movies, watch tv, do who know's what. I'm sure some of them made fun of me bc I didn't do those things, but overall I was respected by them. I went to school, ran track and cross-country and when practice was done I went home. I had acouple friends come out to the farm to play sometimes but I was never "like" them. I new I was different and I was proud of it. I didn't boast it, but I knew from my dad mainly, that the things they did weren't going to accomplish anything. He taught me about hard work and goals and values. I know I'm a stronger person bc of it. I know what life is about and it's not tv and video games and the things that result from them. It sounds to me like you're a great mom and you shouldn't let this get you down. Stand strong for your daughter. She doesn't need friends who drag her down. It's not worth it, not now and definently not later...who she is in 10 years depends on what you decide now. hugs and blessings to you.
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasminelove View Post
I'm sorry but I don't think you need to get a book about the stupid characters. Aren't you different then them. What would you be teaching her by doing that? We don't want to be like them but to fit in you do need to know about "their world". NO she doesn't. And why does she NEED to fit in with them? Leaders aren't pp who try to fit in. Leaders are people who know who they are, know they have a purpose and seek wisdom and tools to accomplish their purpose. Kids need direction and confidence. Trying to be like and understand their video game world will do nothing good for her. What will it be after the video games? Clothes, make-up, sex, drugs? Seriously. She doesn't need to fit in. I personally wouldn't have my child playing with those kids. She needs to learn about life from you mom, not those kids. Growing up, I never fit in. I grew up on a farm and most the other kids in school lived in town. They all "hung out" together all the time. They'd go to movies, watch tv, do who know's what. I'm sure some of them made fun of me bc I didn't do those things, but overall I was respected by them. I went to school, ran track and cross-country and when practice was done I went home. I had acouple friends come out to the farm to play sometimes but I was never "like" them. I new I was different and I was proud of it. I didn't boast it, but I knew from my dad mainly, that the things they did weren't going to accomplish anything. He taught me about hard work and goals and values. I know I'm a stronger person bc of it. I know what life is about and it's not tv and video games and the things that result from them. It sounds to me like you're a great mom and you shouldn't let this get you down. Stand strong for your daughter. She doesn't need friends who drag her down. It's not worth it, not now and definently not later...who she is in 10 years depends on what you decide now. hugs and blessings to you.
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post #16 of 20
We're not completely TV free.....yet as we watch a lot of nature shows, National Geographic shows and we love our documentaries. But we are most definately Disney show, faddish characters, video game and idiotic 1/2 hour comedy with bratty spoiled kids show free.
A few months ago I yanked the cord on the playroom tv (and it's been out ever since) when I heard (ICarly maybe?) yelling shut up over and over. NOT what I want my kids exposed to.
Around here, with the cousins and such, my kids are the only ones who really don't care for or about Transformers, Dora, Princesses, Batman etc.
We've just always explained to them that these toys, shows and games don't help their imagination grow because the story is already complete, so really, what's the point?
Instead we've told them 'legends' (not always accurate historical fact - we're winging it here) of our own woods, and area, and anywhere else we happen to be living, stories of the Native People who lived here before us, about the faeries under the trees, about robots from the future, dinosaurs, the ice age, and everything else under the sun. They make their own stories, heros and villians out of that.

I overheard DS tell his cousin (same age) that he didn't want to play Batman because it's boring to him, and lets look for minnows instead : ) --The cousin was not allowed as it was deemed 'dangerous', but that's a whole 'nother story : )

I certainley wouldn't start introducing Disney and all that other bull to your DD now, just because it's all the other kids know....rather, I'd do the complete opposite and take the oppertunity to introduce the neighborhood kids to the wonderful world of using your imagination : )
post #17 of 20
Childsplay,

Can our children become best friends????!

Those stories sound awesome!
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shell View Post
I'm just feeling depressed over this. Almost like I should throw in the towel and let her watch TV and just get with the corporate program. I feel resentment that I am always struggling with which DVDs are okay or which toys are okay... truly trying to figure out the benefit (or detriment) that each object or experience will have on my kids... while other parents just don't care and they (both the parents and the kids) seem happier! They just go with the flow and accept it all... and the kids grow up just the same.

It shouldn't have to be this hard!

Shell, I'm one of those parents. My kids watch too much tv and all their play centers around power rangers & pokemon. We're not happier! In fact, I'm at this forum because I want to turn off the tv and am terrified of the tantrums the next couple weeks will hold. I love my children dearly, but the tv has become such a part of their lives that my 2 1/2 yr old sounds like a teenager and my 4 yr old regularly talks to me as if he thinks I'm stupid. They want every toy and every food that the commercials advertise, even foods they know they don't like.

My family is not unlike those in your neighborhood - in public I regularly get compliments on how well behaved my children are, how happy they are, what a good mom I am, and secretly I think, you don't know what you're talking about! I am just blessed with good children.

Do not throw in the towel! Your daughter is far happier and will be far better adjusted, more active, more intellegent, and everything else without the TV. If I did not firmly believe that, I would not be here!
post #19 of 20
If you'd like fuel for your "fire", find the book Buy Buy Baby , which is all about how marketing is targeted to you as a mother, and your children, to buy all of the commercial toys,clothes, etc. that's out there. Those 30 minute cartoons with characters kids love? They're really considered 30 minute commercials in the toy industry, because they exist solely to promote the toy and other items.
post #20 of 20
I pretty much never post here. We are not screen free but mostly TV free. We are limited screen time--Wii OR comp OR 30 min video. Occasionally family movie night (all). I've asked my kids if they think they WANT more screen time, and they just want to read books. I'm just frustrated that I'm pushing them out the door to PLAY, but they are sitting around reading books.

They also make up fabulous stories. They are different. Their teachers (6th and 4th and KG) comment on it. Friends comment on it. Their imaginations are full throttle. Don't throw in the towel.

We are NOT character free, BTW; we have princesses and Batman and Incredibles (we LOVE Incredibles) but my kids take the characters and make up new, exciting, and interesting stories with them and the characters are all mixed up together. So it's fine. At least for us. Batman and Cinderella together. FE. We also have GENERIC knights and princesses
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