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do I need to protect my daughter from mainstream culture?

post #1 of 76
Thread Starter 
Sometimes I wonder if I am becoming a bit extreme, but more and more I feel the need to shield my child from so many elements of our modern culture that most parents seem to be just fine with -- poor quality gross food, mass commercialism of childhood, inane and dizzying children's entertainment, dumbing down of culture, adults acting like children and not in a good way, etc etc etc. Things I see as disgusting are almost seen as normal by the vast majority. (Example: a graphic sadistic murder flick that my parents watch without flinching, programming directed at little ones with smart alecky kids and stupid inept adults). I almost want to run off and become Amish! I just see evidence of toxic culture and its effects (I used to teach Kindergarten) everywhere I go just accepted and even embraced without question, and I don't know whether I am just being too negative, overreacting or what. The way I see it, I don't want my kid watching tv, seeing the vast majority of movies, injesting total junk, watching salacious and titilating news media, posting crap on the Internet and playing video games. How can I find my tribe? How far will my family need to withdraw from society to protect itself? It's like I see crassness everywhere!

Do we need to move to a desert island? Or am I losing it?

How can I deal with this, and maybe turn it into a positive? And how can I find similar minded parents to hang with? (I do like Waldorf method teaching, in that it emphasizes maintaining the innocence and imagination of children).

Responses welcome!
post #2 of 76
Awww, it can be hard trying to do what's best for your child when there are sooo many things out there you disagree with. I totally understand that.

For me, I think it's important to find a middle ground somewhere. Things you are completely against, things you can live with, things you agree with. Because to completely, 100% shelter her would be harmful in the long run. Because someday, no matter how much you try to protect her, she will go out in the world without you and mingle with the mainstream, and she'll need to know how to be comfortable around things that are different from the beliefs you've instilled in her.

Perhaps you could look in your tribal area and find other mama's who would like to get together who share the same beliefs you do?

Just know you're not alone.
post #3 of 76
Yes you should absolutely shelter and protect your children from the all pervasive crap we call culture. Just realize that it is almost impossible to do it completely. We have done our level best, and have received negativity from friends and family, but we stuck to our guns and basically have some pretty innocent kids. My sister fought with me alot, to the point of saying my kids would grow up to hate me, but now that she has her own child, she gets where I am coming from. The Bear is often the talisman for motherhood,because they are fierce protectors of their young. It is your job Momma.
post #4 of 76
I feel the same way. I find like-minded families through LLL and natural food co-ops, raw milk/WAPF groups, alternative HCPs, etc.
post #5 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by magentamomma View Post
Yes you should absolutely shelter and protect your children from the all pervasive crap we call culture. Just realize that it is almost impossible to do it completely. We have done our level best, and have received negativity from friends and family, but we stuck to our guns and basically have some pretty innocent kids. My sister fought with me alot, to the point of saying my kids would grow up to hate me, but now that she has her own child, she gets where I am coming from. The Bear is often the talisman for motherhood,because they are fierce protectors of their young. It is your job Momma.
:

My kid is a tv-free waldorf kid so thus far we've avoided most of it. Of course when we start public school the flood gates will have to open a bit wider. It can make you insane so try to be realistic about it and remember that no one is perfect and your child WILL BE OKAY even if a few less than desirable pop culture references make their way into her world. Keep up the good work.
post #6 of 76
I am so glad you posted this; this is something I struggle with every day, and my DD is only 17 mo! I see stuff everywhere and think, "ouch-- i don't want my daughter growing up in that kind of world." I don't know how to deal with this, exactly. Right now, we do no TV and no baby gear with clear marketing to kids (so no sposies with Sesame Street designs or sippy cups with Dora). I definitely plan to homeschool.

But it is so hard. This stuff is everywhere. I see *little* kids all the time who probably have very few words-- but they're standing in the aisle, lisping "Dora! Dora!"

I was very encouraged by some friends a few weeks ago, though. They have 8 kids and homeschool. These kids are the most pleasant, amazing kids. They don't seem weird or sheltered or deprived. They play outside and have soccer games with each other and walk around the neighborhood. They read ALL THE TIME. The 14 yo was reading Evelyn Waugh the last time I talked with them.They also don't watch any broadcast television-- only a few movies a week from the library.

They were watching a few of the Olympics events, and the kids were really baffled by the commercial breaks. They honestly did not even get the concept of something on television used to sell things. I think this is amazing and wonderful. I thought about my childhood, and how my sister and I used to run around the house singing Velveta and Kraft Macaroni ads. Sure, we weren't scarred by the Velveta, but how sad that the marketing is pervasive even to little children.

ETA-- my husband has family land in the Ozarks, and seriously-- some days I think we'll end up there on the top of a mountain by ourselves before this is all over. sigh.
post #7 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by magentamomma View Post
Yes you should absolutely shelter and protect your children from the all pervasive crap we call culture. Just realize that it is almost impossible to do it completely. We have done our level best, and have received negativity from friends and family, but we stuck to our guns and basically have some pretty innocent kids. My sister fought with me alot, to the point of saying my kids would grow up to hate me, but now that she has her own child, she gets where I am coming from. The Bear is often the talisman for motherhood,because they are fierce protectors of their young. It is your job Momma.
Totally.

I also do my best to protect myself from what I believe are the more negative/destructive elements of popular culture--no "fashion" magazines (full of gossip, impossible to live up to beauty standards, etc.), I'm very selective about the movies/TV I watch, and I do my best to avoid "news" shows that consist of celebrity follies and making drama out of peoples' tragedies. And I feel much more at peace than I used to.
post #8 of 76
My answer is different.

My final goal is for my DD to be able to succeed in this world. So I would rather guide her and help her navigate the mainstream world than 'protect' her.

At some point she's going to go out on her own - and I want to make sure that she is well equipped to think for herself and not be overwhelmed by what she sees/experienced.

I knew a few sheltered children growing up (including some relatives) and none of them turned out well. They were either stifled by their parents and have never really become their own people. Or they we overwhelmed when they moved out/went to college and weren't able to get anywhere.
post #9 of 76
My kids are not sheltered in the typical sense. We watch Disney at Grandmas and they love Pet Shops and Hannah Montana. We constantly talk about corporate greed, and the motivations and hidden messages in the media. My kids inform their peers about the effects of DDT on wildlife, and how although illegal here we still sell it abroad. I explain that often times Disney products are inferior to the generic counterpart ye cost more. Why because they are selling a name.
I however do not buy Bratz products because I feel they are far too sexually oriented for kids. I will not allow my kids to watch slasher films in my home. PERIOD. Gangsta rap is innapropriate, but a little Fergie never killed anyone. My kids are older, so I have had to make concessions. But not when they were real little and not without deliberation.
post #10 of 76
I am opposed to "sheltering" kids...however I am very much for keeping things they're exposed to age-appropriate. Sheltering to me implies trying to keep your kids from having any knowledge on a subject. To me it's like saying "don't go into a dark ally" and then refusing to tell them why. Pretending something you feel is harmful doesn't exist and letting them know "we don't watch/listen to/do this because..." are two entirely different things.

I have no intention of allowing my kids to watch the Disney channel. Why? Because the majority of the shows are nothing more than watered-down soap operas targeted at "pre-teens" while portraying a lifestyle that is more like something a highschool student would experience. My 11-year-old niece constantly watches these shows and her mother wonders why she's hit the angsty teenage phase so soon. Well duh! She acts like a teenager because that's what she sees! When I was 11 I was still playing with dolls or playing office...11-year-olds are children, yet they are being exposed to media that would be more appropriate for teens 15+. Four years can make a huge difference in your maturity level! Kids just aren't ready for this sort of stuff!

I can't tell you how many 10-year-olds I've seen in PG-13 movies. Or how many parents I've heard ask to purchase a video game rated Mature for their 12-year-old. When a 9-year-old can sing along to "Promiscuous Girl" word for word...somebody is being a poor excuse for a parent.
post #11 of 76

Our Approach

We don't help mainstream elements that we disagree with, but we don't put up excessive barriers either.

For example, we don't generally buy licensed character toys, but I won't start a family feud if a relative buys one for our kids. We don't have complex rules about TV viewing (how much, what and when). We've just created a household where TV is very low key. I want kids who choose to do other things, not kids who watch very little TV, but only because I am the TV police.

I don't want our kids to be outcast because they show up at a birthday party with a list a mile long of things they can't see, eat or do. It's also important to us that our kids ultimately learn to navigate mainstream culture and make good choices within it... as opposed to being as completely shielded from it as possible.

I worry about being too "weird" sometimes. And it's often hard to figure out what's reasonable and what's too much when it comes to filtering out the mainstream elements in an age appropriate way.

I remind myself that I had a pretty mainstream childhood, and I appreciate having been free to find myself. I still found my way to the extreme left, AP parenting, etc.
post #12 of 76
For me it's not so much about protecting/isolating, but innoculating. At some point my kids are going to have to function in this world, toxic as it is.

Right now, that means we do shelter them somewhat. Or rather, choose what parts of the culture to expose them to. No tv because I want them to learn to live without "Want" constanly on their minds. I pick the dvds, and some things I let the watch and others I don't would surprise some people. But I'd rather they see something that reinforces our values even if it is a little "old" for them than the mindless drivel that is much of children's television.

As far as cultural issues, while we sheild them from a lot of media, there's no avoiding some things, and we talk about things. Rather than just letting them soak up unthinking what comes through the tube, we talk about these things in detail, in the context of our faith and values, to give them a good basis for handling these things when they grow up.
post #13 of 76
Some days I feel more and more like you. I'm actually floored, but recently DH has felt this way as well. He's mentioned getting rid of our TV a couple of times. We lived w/o TV for years and got cable about 2 years ago at DH's behest. Now he said he sees all kinds of problems with it and wants to get rid of it.

The biggest thing I'm trying to do is replace what we don't like with things we do. I have scores of concerns for my daughter with relation to gender, and I know we'll have to try hard. I absolutely will not allow Barbie in my house, but I don't say that. We just provide her all types of options for play, so there's no "void" to fill.
post #14 of 76
Loved Spirdermom's answer
Quote:
I am opposed to "sheltering" kids...however I am very much for keeping things they're exposed to age-appropriate.
I think that you have to do what you feel comfortable with, but I don't believe that sheltering children from Western culture necessarily protects children from harm.
I believe that knowledge and choice are important aspects of freedom. When the Wiggles become contraban just because they are easily marketed, and therefore easily loved, you need to ask yourself "why do children love the Wiggles?" surely they aren't all brain washed victims of an evil mass media. There are legitimate and innocent reasons kids like Western culture and it doesn't have to turn them into fat consumerists

I think you will find many similiar minds if you start looking around organic and natural communities like this.
Unfortunately, I tend to find that there are many people selling over priced, consumer orientated "organic" products to those searching for a natural life such as you and me.

In the end, our children adopt our values and not those of Dora The Explorer, or Thomas the Tank Engine.
So live the life you want and your children will follow.
post #15 of 76
Talk to other parents: honestly. The media manipulates our perception to believe that we are raising a generation of TV-obsessed additive-addicted couch potatoes, but that isn't the reality for any of my kids friends.
Maybe it's the family who cycle everywhere as a family and love each others company- or the family who have the TV on (on BBC) for half an hour a day and then play a board game together after dinner every night. I know a fair number of people who bake with only wholegrains, a substantial number who eat a properly healthy diet. It's when you go to a committee meeting at a new friends house, and her 10 year old asks when his dad is going to be in because they're reading a story together before bed that you realise that the alleged mainstream isn't anyone's normal: what we do is.

I'm not saying that back-chatting, smart-talking, wise-cracking, rude, arrogant obnoxious little boys don't exist- I recently came across a pair of brothers who are driving me to distraction- but generally, they're far and few between and our children gravitate to their own tribes.
post #16 of 76
I have two thoughts about this.

Like you, I am often dismayed, disappointed, or disgusted with many things in "mainstream" culture. Sex, violence, and soft ethics seem to be widespread.

I think many of these influences can shorten the innocence of childhood, and also risk a child not having the time to explore, especially in adolescence, what they really think and feel, outside of all the peer pressure.

But, on the other hand, I think we can do a disservice to our children if we don't expose them to "mainstream" things, protect them too much, shield them from anything deemed bad, and in the end, fail to equip them to deal with some of these realities of life.

I try to balance by being very selective about what we spend time and money on, but I don't censor things and I don't hide things. Rather, I just try to frame and explain the things I don't agree with. For instance, when it comes to television, video games, etc, I will limit, but I won't withhold.

It is a real struggle for me because my husband is very much the same as he was when he was a teenager when it comes to television, video games, movies, etc. My husband thinks nothing of watching cartoons like The Family Guy or Beavis and Butthead (totally adult shows) but my child sometimes is drawn to the cartoon and can't distinguish The Family Guy from, say, Sesame Street. So, I have to remind my DH to please watch adult cartoons when our child isn't around.

DH thinks nothing of watching loud and violent themed movies in front of our child. That may have been ok (debatable) when our child was an infant, but now our child is an impressionable child who is talking and thinking and mimicking. I want to filter the violent themes a bit.

I have a friend, though, who covers the ears of her children all the time and won't allow tv news to play in front of them. I think that's a bit extreme. I understand the concern, but I think kids need to grow up equipped to deal with the real world, and process their emotions about it.

Balance, balance, balance (and parental judgement and control)
post #17 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by magentamomma View Post
My kids are not sheltered in the typical sense. We watch Disney at Grandmas and they love Pet Shops and Hannah Montana. We constantly talk about corporate greed, and the motivations and hidden messages in the media. My kids inform their peers about the effects of DDT on wildlife, and how although illegal here we still sell it abroad. I explain that often times Disney products are inferior to the generic counterpart ye cost more. Why because they are selling a name.
I however do not buy Bratz products because I feel they are far too sexually oriented for kids. I will not allow my kids to watch slasher films in my home. PERIOD. Gangsta rap is innapropriate, but a little Fergie never killed anyone. My kids are older, so I have had to make concessions. But not when they were real little and not without deliberation.
i couldnt have said this any better, we are exactly the same, except that I could ramp up my talks with them about corporate greed...

and we NEVER buy things just because so and so is on it. particularly food, but it helps that we buy mostly organic, so we avoid the character references anyhow..... the kids are always like.. oh oh look!! and we talk a lot about how that food isnt healthy and we arent buying just because such and such is on it..

while my kids ARE exposed to movies and television, it is limited and we try to spend more time doing sports and letterboxing, going to the beach, the park....
post #18 of 76
My kids were extremely sheltered, especially dd, as young children, and we were part of a community (waldorf) that encouraged tht effort. It was fine, and very appropriate as young children, and I am not sorry that we did things that way. I was alarmed however at the older children I saw who were raised in such a restictive environment. They seemed to have little ability to self regulate around electronics/media, all the "forbidden" stuff. These were the kids who were overboard with the stuff I was initially trying to protect my kids from. They had a lot of learning to do about being savvy about the world and media and thinking critically about what was out there. So for our family, we do as a pp said-make sure our kids exposure to what's out there is age appropriate, which is a tough battle all on it's own! We are clear about our values, we talk about why we may allow one video, but not the other, what commercials are all about, etc. I want them to learn to think for themselves and I am enjoying and trusting their learning process around this.

To me, as they got older, the easy way out would have been to have no media, no pop culture, etc. But I actually think we fool ourseleves if we think we have total control over this, because unless you live in a bubble you don't. For our family, it's been far better to have the boundaries be more flexible, talk about what's out there, and give my kids the tools they need to navigate the world-my super cruncy version of it, as well as more mainstream society.
post #19 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
My kids were extremely sheltered, especially dd, as young children, and we were part of a community (waldorf) that encouraged tht effort. It was fine, and very appropriate as young children, and I am not sorry that we did things that way. I was alarmed however at the older children I saw who were raised in such a restictive environment. They seemed to have little ability to self regulate around electronics/media, all the "forbidden" stuff. These were the kids who were overboard with the stuff I was initially trying to protect my kids from. They had a lot of learning to do about being savvy about the world and media and thinking critically about what was out there. .
I can totally see how this would happen. The question, though, is what to do about it.
I use facebook and text messaging and e-mail, and here I am on this board.... I feel like I spend too much time engaging with electronics rather than people, but I use it FAR less than most of the people I see around me. My sister and her boyfriend used to text a lot, and it was literally impossible to have a conversation with her without her texting him 2 or 3 times. It was maddening. Now that they have broken up, I feel like we have a relationship again. It was *that* consuming.
I know this is partially because of personality, but: I probably read 500 books from junior high through highschool. My sister, 2 years younger, read maybe 100. I think my brothers read the 10 or 15 required for hs and the Harry Potter series. That's it. It's not becuase they didn't like reading, but because they used all their time playing video games, watching tv, and texting. This is so sad to me.
post #20 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by angela&avery View Post
i couldnt have said this any better, we are exactly the same, except that I could ramp up my talks with them about corporate greed...

and we NEVER buy things just because so and so is on it. particularly food, but it helps that we buy mostly organic, so we avoid the character references anyhow..... the kids are always like.. oh oh look!! and we talk a lot about how that food isnt healthy and we arent buying just because such and such is on it..

while my kids ARE exposed to movies and television, it is limited and we try to spend more time doing sports and letterboxing, going to the beach, the park....



This is what I try to do as well.

Just curious if your spouses/partners are on board with this, too? My husband was raised in a very mainstream and tv/video game/etc oriented home and he thinks anything other than that is strange or weird or counter culture or something. I get flack about that all the time.
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