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Curious about 'control' as it relates to parenting - Page 3

post #41 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unagidon View Post
There's a difference between "consuming" and "consumerism". Consumerism presents itself as the satisfaction of needs but in fact it exists to create needs. For example, if you buy a car to take the kids to school, you are consuming. If you buy a car in order to "feed your soul", you are engaging in consumerism. Getting a happy meal toy to play with is consuming. Getting a happy meal toy because you have two and there are six in the series in consumerism.
Okay ... and what if my child collects stamps: is that also consumerism? Or handcarved wooden toys?

What if the child wants the entire set of six happy meal toys in the series, for the purpose of playing with them?
post #42 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by transformed View Post
I'll take it if you dont want it. :
Good one -- but I'm not too crazy about Twinkies.

Anyone want to object to a Hershey's bar with almonds?
post #43 of 117
I think I've met far more controlling AP folks than mainstream ones. But it could be because AP culture almost encourages that, and it's a byproduct of feeling like you're swimming upstream from everyone else.

Same reason why I've met far more preachy AP people than non. If you constantly feel like you have to prove the validity of your choices (not because you secretly don't believe them, but because you perceive that everyone wants to fight against them so you need to be proactive), then you're going to come across as controlling and/or permanently attached to your soapbox.

But really, what does it matter as long as the kids are safe and happy?
post #44 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post
Okay ... and what if my child collects stamps: is that also consumerism? Or handcarved wooden toys?

What if the child wants the entire set of six happy meal toys in the series, for the purpose of playing with them?
Awwww man, now you are making me think.

I dont know where the line is with "consumerism"

Personally mine is really blurry, or it seems to move around at diffrent times in my life.

I am on a buying spree now, but I dont know that it has been frivilous OR caused by media consumption....

Media Consumption triggers buying, thus consumerism?:
post #45 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unagidon View Post
There's a difference between "consuming" and "consumerism". Consumerism presents itself as the satisfaction of needs but in fact it exists to create needs. For example, if you buy a car to take the kids to school, you are consuming. If you buy a car in order to "feed your soul", you are engaging in consumerism. Getting a happy meal toy to play with is consuming. Getting a happy meal toy because you have two and there are six in the series in consumerism.

<snip> This is why children need parents to guide them.

It's really hard enough for adults to tell the difference between consumption and consumerism. If it wasn't hard, the only thing you would find at a garage sale would be children's clothes.
I think we're actually saying the same thing, here....I just happen to believe that there's a variety of middle grounds between only allowing wooden handcrafted toys and 'I NEED all 6 happy meal toys to have a complete set!!!' AND, that with a minimal amount of effort and age-appropriate discussion, you can turn a child into a critical consumer. Since he was about 2-1/2, I've talked with DS about marketing and advertising in stores, using pretty colors or cool pictures to get you to buy something, and that it's usually not nearly as cool as the picture shows. I have to think that because I'm consuming (or consumering) that way - taking from all different levels of products but never feeling that I *HAVE* to have something because someone else told me I needed it for whatever reason - that my kids will wind up that way too - initially, because I'm the one with the money...but eventually, becasue they'll understand the same things I do. Most kids get that it's not cool to be a sucker - and that's essentially what falling for advertising is - so I think if you approach it from that angle (in age appropriate terms, of course) it's pretty easy to avoid the gimmies...my parents did it with me and it worked pretty well. Besides, remember? I'm the mom who gets the happy meals WITHOUT the toy. :

The teaching of the difference between reality and fantasy (marketing) is an ongoing thing for me; I don't think that by overtly (and over-ly) controlling my kids consumerism that I'm doing them any favors towards getting them to think for themselves. "OMGZ I have to have that cuz they say I do!" to me is equally as sheeple-ish as "OMGZ, *stuff* is teh evil!!"
post #46 of 117
Heather, would you let your kids have happy meal toys if they wanted them?
post #47 of 117
OK, now for the initial reason I came back to the thread..

I think one thing that bothers me about "Extreme AP/NFL" (or extreme consumerism; really, extreme anything) is the implication that it is "The Best", and therefore implies that everything else (and anyone else that doesn't do it) is subpar. Which many would say, 'of course! I want my child to have only the best!' but to which I say, 'eh, good enough is sometimes good enough.' Sometimes, too much BEST-ing can create an elitist attitude, and create anxiety about perfection.

I'm not saying , "Yay formula and CIO!" because that is NOT what I believe at all...but I do think that not always having to have the best or most X of everything takes a little pressure off, and leads to a more relaxed (and perhaps less judgmental) lifestyle. Not because you need ot fit in with anyone else, but from a human harmony standpoint. Now...obviously in matters of physical and emotional safety I am not tolerant of chidlren being harmed or mistreated, and will be right up there judging people who disconnect from their babies and toddlers. My standards are MUCH higher for the under 3 set. But preschoolers and up? Meh - a Cheeto there and a "tickle me Elmo" here (shudder) isn't going to ruin them...sure, it might not be the BEST thing for them, but growing up thinking that you only deserve the BEST is a good way to grow up to be a disappointed adult when you find that you can't always get it. Sometimes "OK" is really, well, okay. Entitlement is an ugly thing, no matter how it's expressed.

So, that all made sense to me when I thought it out while nursing DD to sleep, but I have no idea if it came out right on the post. Fingers crossed! Edits may follow shortly!!
post #48 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post
Heather, would you let your kids have happy meal toys if they wanted them?
I guess if they ever asked for them I would, but it's never come up.

I have to say that even when I was a teenager, the concept of meal=toy bugged me - it just doesn't make sense. Why would you need to get a toy when you eat a meal?
post #49 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by The4OfUs View Post
I guess if they ever asked for them I would, but it's never come up.
Cool! Of course, I guess with a one and a three-year-old, they might not even be aware of them yet?
post #50 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by The4OfUs View Post
...sure, it might not be the BEST thing for them, but growing up thinking that you only deserve the BEST is a good way to grow up to be a disappointed adult when you find that you can't always get it. Sometimes "OK" is really, well, okay. Entitlement is an ugly thing, no matter how it's expressed.
I got to thinking about this, and I think I can see what you mean. On the other hand, I don't think it's going to be poor "deprived" DD with her wooden and cloth toys who is going to grow up thinking she is entitled to only the best. Have you seen some of these things? Those are the "bests" that would lead me to expect an entitlement complex, you know?

And while I think we are making the "best" choices we can for her nutritionally speaking, I doubt that she'll be feeling all high and mighty about her organic whole-foods if her peers are all enjoying something more technicolor.

All this being in the future when she might care about these things, that is.
post #51 of 117
I guess i have a hard time reconciling this idea that our poor kids are at the mercy of this huge corporate consumerist culture and that parents are the "first line of defense" (too lazy to go back and quote the actual post)....because that just isnt our reality. Not.At.All.

And i guess THAT is what i see sooooo much hear at MDC...Fear. I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid that tv will rot my kid's brain out, that sugar will rot his teeth out, that an orange toy laser gun will turn him into a violent adult. I'm just not. You know why? Because i look at my child, really LOOK at him, and see that the BEST innoculation you can give your child against violence, against consumerism, against gender stereotyping, against all of that, is a combo of love, respect, and open communication. Kids arent stupid. They are actually really smart. My son and I talk all the time about infomercials, commercials, products that look cool but might just break. We look up product reviews online. In the end, he might still want to buy that thing that i think is a waste of money. And it may bring him an hour's joy and then break. Thats ok, its a learning experience. He remembers the next time.

To me, this isnt about what *I* as a parent am willing to "settle" for, for my own self (the mayo container example above), but about whether i'm willing to decide for my child what the right path is. I'm specifically talking about issues of toys, food, clothing, media. I read in a thread here once a post by a mom that was willing to make the "dealbreaker" of whether her kid ever saw the grandparent, be whether the gp would give the child a sugary treat. No acknowledgement that maybe not having grandma in a child's life would be more damaging than a cookie, yknow? (And i know there are other issues sometimes involved re:boundaries and such...but it seemed that sugar was the hill this mom was willing to die on.)

I get so frustrated and sad when i read threads here about Barbie, or Bratz, or toy guns. When a parent wants to know how to explain to the little child that the toy soldier he adores *must* be thrown away, because killing is bad. : Because i simply can't reconcile it with my reality. I was at an unschooling conference recently, and here were all these little girls (and a couple moms!) onstage, dancing to a song from the Bratz movie (i think?? It definitely had something to do with bratz!), so FULL of absolute joy, kids who enjoy such freedom and don't seem to be the victim of anything. They didnt need their moms to tell them how horrible bratz were, they were just so full of life. And they were dancing around that stage in memory of hannah jenner (the daughter of hahamommy...i think that's diana's MDC name??)who had died. And who loved Bratz. Its like sometimes parents are looking at the Forest, and forgetting to see the Trees, individual children.

Maybe i'm not expressing any of this well. I know alot of parents here have very small kids (like under 3)and its easy to think you'll always be able to control everything (and when they are young like that, you mostly can)...someone mentioned the difference between authoritative parenting and authoritarian parenting. And yes, in the mainstream world, the first is much preferable to the second. But there is a better option than either of those, and thats to move toward Mindful Parenting, to saying "Yes" rather than "No", to not be so arbitrary in your limits and control. Its been such a blessing for us.


Katherine
post #52 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by queenjane View Post
I get so frustrated and sad when i read threads here about Barbie, or Bratz, or toy guns. When a parent wants to know how to explain to the little child that the toy soldier he adores *must* be thrown away, because killing is bad. : Because i simply can't reconcile it with my reality.
I don't want my kid to think killing is fun times so I'm going to filter toys that might encourage that kind of play for as long as is reasonable. I wonder if that's very far outside of the mainstream, I can't imagine that it would be.
post #53 of 117
I think you need to make the distinction between controlling the child and controlling the environment.

mainstream parents are very into controlling the child, making them eat, sleep, behave in ways that are perfectly convenient to the parent.

NFL parents control the environment - food, bad social or cultural influences in ways that they hope will protect their kids.

I don't think that AP is about control at all, it's the NFL or certain educational philosophies that try to control what kids do or see.
post #54 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by secretresistance View Post
I got to thinking about this, and I think I can see what you mean. On the other hand, I don't think it's going to be poor "deprived" DD with her wooden and cloth toys who is going to grow up thinking she is entitled to only the best. Have you seen some of these things? Those are the "bests" that would lead me to expect an entitlement complex, you know?

And while I think we are making the "best" choices we can for her nutritionally speaking, I doubt that she'll be feeling all high and mighty about her organic whole-foods if her peers are all enjoying something more technicolor.

All this being in the future when she might care about these things, that is.
Honestly, I really think it's all about the presentation to the child that creates the entitlement. If you approach it as "We buy this food because it's good for our bodies and good for the earth. Different families buy different foods and that's OK", more power to ya. But if it's the, "We ONLY buy Organic because it's the BEST, and we won't hang around with families who don't" then yes, I thik that can be as bad as "You deserve this junior racing car becasue it's the BEST and anyone who can't afford it is not worth hanging out with" (as oppposed to, "We bought you this car because we know how much you like racing around; we're fortunate to be able to get things like this sometimes, aren't we?") = in each case, one example leads to the child having a more well rounded understanding, and the other to the child feeling they are better than other people because of the consumption choices.

I agree with queenjane that kids are savvy, and they pick up on the very subtle (and not so subtle) ways we express our opinions about why we do the things we do. I agree with most of what queenjane had to say (but I'm with you on the gun thing secretresistance), and wannabe, you make an interesting point, but you really are controlling the child when you control the environment, just in a more subtle way. If they don't have the choices available to them, it's still control.

I'd say on a spectrum, I'm a minimally to moderately controlling parent, because of my children's ages...I'm not completel into consensual living, that's for sure...but I also let a lot of things go that seem to matter more to my more 'mainstream' friends. My hills to die on revolve around respect for other people and respect for their property. And I have pretty high standards for what consists of respect for others when we're out and about. If it isn't going to impact that, we try to find a way to make whatever it is hapen (barring time or financial constraints).Stuff like food, clothes, toys - consumption - for me, are not usually my hills to die on. I do have *some* guidelines, but am willing to give on many issues that others here are not, if my kids ask for something I normally wouldn't buy for them.

Soooo - maybe I gues it does really all come down to:
-What's important to you AND
-How you present it to your child

Cause you can do that either in a gentle, tolerance building way, or in a rigid, elitist way. Hmmm.......
post #55 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by The4OfUs
I think one thing that bothers me about "Extreme AP/NFL" (or extreme consumerism; really, extreme anything) is the implication that it is "The Best", and therefore implies that everything else (and anyone else that doesn't do it) is subpar. Which many would say, 'of course! I want my child to have only the best!' but to which I say, 'eh, good enough is sometimes good enough.' Sometimes, too much BEST-ing can create an elitist attitude, and create anxiety about perfection.
Yes I agree, and not only anxiety. It can also create the consumerist snobbery/elitism that prevents people from interacting with those who are different from them. So much of the Bratz vs. Magic Cabin is about fitting in - I have a Bratz because my child's friends have Bratz (or Waldorf dolls). This is why we left the local Waldorf preschool - the people there were still obsessively consuming stuff, it was just wooden/silk stuff. And they were using their beliefs about the superiority of their consumption (the kinds of food they ate, the kinds of toys they consumed) to judge and dismiss other families who did not consume the correct stuff.

Whether you're consumerism is focused on wool dollies or plastic, it's still consumerism if you think that you must have this to feel/be 'ok'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by queenjane
I guess i have a hard time reconciling this idea that our poor kids are at the mercy of this huge corporate consumerist culture and that parents are the "first line of defense" (too lazy to go back and quote the actual post)....because that just isnt our reality. Not.At.All.

And i guess THAT is what i see sooooo much hear at MDC...Fear. I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid that tv will rot my kid's brain out, that sugar will rot his teeth out, that an orange toy laser gun will turn him into a violent adult. I'm just not. You know why? Because i look at my child, really LOOK at him, and see that the BEST innoculation you can give your child against violence, against consumerism, against gender stereotyping, against all of that, is a combo of love, respect, and open communication.
I have no idea about your personal circumstances but out here in suburbia my kids are surrounded by advertising including their peers' clothing/lunchboxes/backpacks, kids "magazines" they get at school, Channel One (and they really wanted "Bus Radio", which forces kids to listen to advertisements while they ride the bus to school). Book fairs are no longer about books - they're about collecting Sponge Bob candy, toys, and computer games. The teachers slap advertisement stickers for Chuck E Cheese on the kids' shirts to remind their parents that tonight is Chuck E Cheese night. Assemblies (again, compulsory) include advertisements and sponsorships. Sports programs include the same, and kids *must* wear logo-laden jerseys to be on the team. It. never. stops.

When I talked about being my child's first line of defense I wasn't speaking out of fear. It's anger, more of a Gandalfian "You shall not pass!" to the Belroc that constantly tells them they are not pretty enough, good enough, popular enough, or fun enough without this one special thing they must consume. Or tells me I *must* formula feed, be induced, have a c-section, circumcise my son, or serve them french fries because otherwise I'm not liberated/a bad mommy and my kids will feel "different".

You're right that kids aren't stupid; neither are adults. But *plenty* of non-stupid adults out there think things will solve the problem of their loneliness, sadness, or anger. How much consumer debt do we have in this country? Plenty of non-stupid adults spiral into addiction. Talking about infomercials, what ads are really selling, where things come from, and creating critical consumers is part of the moral education of our children and part of "attaching"; I assume everyone here is doing that and understands its value. But it's not enough. In many other industrialized countries marketing to children is prohibited; here it's not. So I have to do some of that myself.

Regarding buying the crappy breakable toy that will give him joy for five minutes, how many of these do you buy before you say "you know honey we aren't made out of money"? And of course the consumer decisions they make have more serious consequences as they get older. A crappy scooter can cause injuries. Because resources are finite (natural, monetary, time, and other) I think part of my job as a parent is to sometimes say no while I am busy educating them to be prudent stewards of their own and our world's resources. Joy comes from many places; the least of these is "stuff".

Many childrens' products (and the advertising that surrounds them) perpetuate stereotypes - Scantily clad Bratz babies in fishnet stockings perpetuate a stereotype of women I don't want my children around. Are you really saying I'm living in fear if I don't let my dd have hooker-dollies? And yes, in this case even just.one.hooker.dolly *does* make a difference in my girl's perception of what is beautiful and valued in our society. *Especially* if all her friends have them and advertising for them is *everywhere*.

You mentioned orange squirt guns, but what about video games where kids get to rape the hooker for extra points? Is that part of their learning experience? Is taking them to the hospital to be treated for lead poisoning part of their learning experience? Some things I'd rather just avoid - they will have plenty of opportunities to experience life's rougher lessons when they are adults.

But at the bottom of all this is the underlying problem to me that remains - commercialism doesn't just promote specific products. It promotes consumption as a way of life. Every celebration is turned into a consumption-fest, and it implies that consuming is the solution to every problem.

Children are smart, but they are *not* adults. They simply don't have the same skills and abilities to discriminate that we have. That's why sex with adults, liquor, tobacco, and certain games, movies and activities are restricted for them. Sometimes you have to say no. And that doesn't make you coercive, controlling, or fearful. It makes you a parent.
post #56 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by secretresistance View Post
Have you seen some of things? Those are the "bests" that would lead me to expect an entitlement complex, you know?

Hmm, we do have/had some (fairy bed and playhouse) of these (or similiar) things. : which I have to admit I am sometims embarrssed about around certain people.

Will this give my kids an "entitlement complex." Are their grandparent's lavious gifts going to make them horrible people.

I don't know for sure how they will end up (nor does anyone of course), but I don't think so. They have a lot of expectations placed on them for their interactions with others, hard word etc... They have so far shown themselves to be kind loving children who in fact jokingly refer to their grandparents gifts as "over the top" (though they haven't refused them).

As for control, I agree with Meg Murray. I do control things for my kids. I place demands and expectations on them. I don't back that up though with any sort of punishment or reward. I simply let it be known what my expectations are.
post #57 of 117
Thanks for that Katherine. I am scared to death that my kids are going to turn into slutty, overweight, killing machines. Everyday. And it sucks.

But I dont understand how letting them do/have whatever they want works the opposite of encouraging them to do these things?

My parents didnt censor anything from me, and I grew up feeling neglected.

I think moderation is the key. Such a hard note to strike also. (for me, anyways)

I do not belive in militant parenting and controlling everything that comes in and out of your childs life. I think it hinders the childs ability to make decisions on their own.
post #58 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by chicagomom View Post
I have no idea about your personal circumstances but out here in suburbia my kids are surrounded by advertising including their peers' clothing/lunchboxes/backpacks, kids "magazines" they get at school, Channel One (and they really wanted "Bus Radio", which forces kids to listen to advertisements while they ride the bus to school). Book fairs are no longer about books - they're about collecting Sponge Bob candy, toys, and computer games. The teachers slap advertisement stickers for Chuck E Cheese on the kids' shirts to remind their parents that tonight is Chuck E Cheese night. Assemblies (again, compulsory) include advertisements and sponsorships. Sports programs include the same, and kids *must* wear logo-laden jerseys to be on the team. It. never. stops.

.
That is reality. You cant protect your kids from reality. You can try, but you'll die trying.

I havent found a good answer to consumerism, I guess because I struggle with it so much myself. (Its not just my kids that aare inandated by "stuff")
post #59 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meg Murry. View Post
You say "control" like it's a bad thing.

No, I mean it.

It's not.

I have not only earned the right to make major decisions because of my forty years' worth of life on this planet and the experiences that go with it, but I have earned the obligation to make those decisions by my choice to be a parent.

Decisions are best made by people who have a sense of what is involved in the decision. To give a reasonably decent example, if someone asked me whether or not I should get 1 or 2 gigabytes' worth of memory in a portable laptop, I'd basically have no clue until someone told me, "Well, if you want it to run Windows Vista, you'll need at least one -- but if you want it to run decently, you'll need two."

Similarly, a child has limited information. OBVIOUSLY it is the parents' task to provide information so that the child may make a decision; however, there are many decisions a child may be faced with which essentially require life experience in order to evaluate appropriately. To use my example again, I might not know what "decently" means for me when running Windows Vista -- and I might not know that until I played around with a laptop with one gig versus two.

I do believe in giving children the power to make decisions that are appropriate to make given their age and knowledge. I also believe that one should constantly evaluate how important that decision happens to be. Is it a "hill you want to die on," or is it something of less importance?

I also believe in seeking compromise and consensus as often as possible because that is the way I would want to be treated. I believe in persuasion over force, and I believe in trying to make decisions fair and fun. However, I do not forget that ultimately, the responsibility -- and yes, the control -- resides primarily with me and my DH. The fact that we are even discussing this at all demonstrates the control we ultimately possess, whether or not we wish to acknowledge it.


I've read Unconditional Parenting and Playful Parenting, etc. One thing really stood out to me; these authors only have one child or children spaced really far apart.

I don't apologize for setting and enforcing limits on my kids. Call it controlling if you want. I'm fine with that. I try to be flexible and empathetic and take my childrens' views and feelings into consideration. I try to let them has as much freedom of choice as I deem prudent (I don't think giving a 3 year old the option of deciding how much television and other media to experience is prudent.) But, the bottom line is the final decisions are mine and dh's.
post #60 of 117
Quote:
Originally Posted by chicagomom View Post
Children are smart, but they are *not* adults. They simply don't have the same skills and abilities to discriminate that we have. That's why sex with adults, liquor, tobacco, and certain games, movies and activities are restricted for them. Sometimes you have to say no. And that doesn't make you coercive, controlling, or fearful. It makes you a parent.
:

If they were capable of making all these decisions on their own then what exactly is our job as parents? To have our wallets out to buy whatever they ask for?? Seriously...most the things I am hearing being described on this thread as "Control" is really just parenting.

Am I being controlling because I wont let my 4 yo walk to the store alone?

Am I being controlling because I wont let him use the F word?

Am I being controlling by not letting him start target shooting with real guns (he is really wanting to do this, but is still way to young, IMO)?

Am I being controlling by not letting him have pop tarts and kool-aid for breakfast?

He would like to drive the car, but I say no...is that controlling?

Is it controlling to tell him not to hurt animals and people?

I would say that all the things I mentioned are controlling...so am I wrong for controlling my son so much?



I get the OP's point, but as a parent it is our responsibility to make sure that our children are safe, and to teach them good values. And that requires some degree of control. I try to say yes as much as possible, but some things are out of the question. There are things that we refuse to buy no matter how much Owen may want them. We are extremely picky about where and how we will spend our money. If Owen wanted to eat at McDonald's it certainly wouldn't be on my dime, and that is because McDonald's is causing a lot of destruction, not to mention they treat their employees like Sh*t.
That may be controlling, but I see it as teaching my son about our values as a family. We don't buy Owen new MIC or Plastic toys toys. We shop thrift stores, and he can buy that junk there, but I don;t want to give support to the companies that are manufacturing those toys. I will not buy him some crappy toy that was made in a sweat shop just so I can say that I let him make his own choices. What about the poor kid who made that toy in the sweatshop?

We are all "Controlled" by laws and general expectations for how we should behave in our society. How would I be doing my kids any favors by just letting them do whatever they want? How would that even be parenting?

How can you parent with NO control????
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