Thursday, January 30, 2014

First World Problems

I see it in all of us in the year and a half since we've moved back from Africa.  First world problems.  Stemming from too many choices.  Too much immediacy.  Too many distractions.  And too little real life interaction with people and nature.

We've tried desperately to limit the kids' electronics and encourage them going to the neighborhood park with other kids.  The problem is, kids are so over scheduled and over stimulated, no one hangs out at the park anymore.  Besides the kids going there to smoke pot.  And they can do that in the comfort of their own basement these days.  This is Colorado.

Columbine.  Aurora.  Arapahoe. Colorado.
We're infamous for shootings and smoking pot.

I'm discouraged about the future for my kids.  That American culture has gone so overboard with specializing and personalizing things for our children, with kids menus, competitive sports that start  younger and younger, portable screens so our kids can be entertained virtually anywhere they go.  Resulting not only in short attention spans, but also in intolerance.  Because to be tolerant, one would need to practice tolerance.  If our kids are eternally catered to, doted on, entertained and constantly told they are special simply because they breathe, this breeds self-centeredness.  Self-absorption. And selfishness. Which in turn leads to isolation and depression.  Factors which can lead to drugs and worst case scenario, violence.

Violence we're getting too accustomed to hearing about in the news.  So we as a society look for even more distractions to numb ourselves from the dire reality.  Facebook, Twitter, Candy Crush, alcohol, drugs, junk food, movies, tabloids, sexting, porn.  Pick your poison.  But know that when you do, your kids are learning how to cope with first world problems from watching what you do. 

Change something small today,
to change something big tomorrow.


Eat dinner together as a family.
Have a designated no electronics hour. 
Touch your child in a reassuring affectionate way at least twice a day.
Walk your child to school if possible or ride bikes around the neighborhood.
Talk and share the best thing that happened during your day. 
Family Fun Night (games, talent show, etc.)
Friends Night. Invite friends over for a low-key game night or meet at the park.  
Or simply smile at someone.

7 comments: said...

See- I thought you were smirking at me :-)

Actually, these are all great ideas. We ate dinner together six nights a week when the kids were little (and I was married). Riding bikes was how we traveled to all but the ball games with the heavy paraphernalia...

Not sure that stops the crazies with the guns, but it certainly does provide for some pretty cool bonding moments.

joeh said...

Great sugfgestions.

Family dinner is especially important...and everyone eats the same meal!

Muriel Jacques said...

We have the same problems this side of the pond: you are supposed to entertain your kids every minute of ever day. I also think that kids need to get a bit bored, from time to time. being alone with yourself can't hurt, right?

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

You are so right. It's not enough to tell kids they have to unplug; we need to connect with them. We need to look them in the eye, listen to their sometimes awkward story-telling, play family games, sing songs together, etc. It drives me crazy to watch parents at the park ignore their toddlers and continue texting, etc.

The Loerzels said...

@ Roy-Small things are bigger than they seem.
@Muriel-Being bored is how the best imaginative games begin.
@BOG- My youngest tells the most painfully long stories at dinner. And she's also the one who complains EVERY dinner. It's like Groundhog's Day!

Sine said...

I think overscheduling is one of the biggest problems of American children. And I never would have even seen it had we not lived in Africa, where time seemed to slow down and kids seemed to be kids more than elsewhere. There we had shorter school days and less activities, and yet I think the kids grew more mature and independent than before that when I was driving myself ragged getting them to soccer and baseball and everythin else...

Joy Page Manuel said...

Great post Marie! I agree with everything and am really trying hard to not overschedule. Although frankly, I don't think that will be a problem for me since I HATE going out. I can't imagine having to drive my son from one activity to another and being stuck outside my house for hours and hours. Just the karate class 2x/week for 45mins per session is torture for ME. Hahaha!


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