Thursday, June 28, 2012
Elizabeth Kolbert has written a thought-provoking piece for the New Yorker, asking "Why do kids rule the roost?". It brings up many really good points - not just about having "well-behaved kids", which has always seemed like a short-sighted goal to me - but about ending up with young adults who lack basic life skills and self-sufficiency.
The article also mentions the differences between American kids, kids from a Peruvian Amazon tribe, and French kids. You can probably guess the differences that anthropologists have noted.
And my kids are definitely Americans. They expect to be tended to. They expect to get their way eventually. They have too much stuff.
I don't like this, and I certainly don't like having to struggle to get them to do each and every basic task that life requires (brush your teeth, take a bath, come on now, don't make me ask 20 times!). My husband and I were talking about what we can do differently, but there is also a culture that the kids are growing up in that influences all of this - some of this is out of our individual hands.
One thing I'm doing is teaching my kids to cook. This week, after the crazy junk-food binge they had last week while I was away and Dad was flying solo, when I went to the grocery store I asked them each to use their snack budgets on something we could make together, rather than on pre-packaged snacks. Hypatia chose Rice Krispie Treats - it's not exactly difficult to make or really from scratch, but I think it's a good first step with a 6 year old. And as I type this she's behind me vacuuming, and my son is up cleaning his room, so perhaps it's not all hopeless.