Cookie Cutter Kids in a Colorless World

20150416_190352As I was perusing Facebook I came across a post that began “Back in the old days….” As I read this post I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable.

“…We came home from school & did our homework, no game playing.” After being in school for six or seven hours, I think these kids need a break. They need to play. They need to exercise and move their bodies. In fact, I’d say, they shouldn’t even have homework. Many educators agree that homework does not improve learning, and in the case of my kids, it even worked towards developing a distinct hatred of school, where learning became a burden rather than a joy. Even since we began home schooling, it has been difficult for my son to get out of this negative mode of thinking.

“We took our school clothes off and did not go outside and play in them.” Purely on a laundry saving, water saving, ecological viewpoint, I’d rather my kids didn’t change two or three times a day. School clothes get dirty at school, so if my kids want to roll around in the grass in them when they come home, I would be fine with that. Since we home school, school clothes and play clothes are one and the same.

“We didn’t sit & listen to grown ups talk, we left the room until company left.” I really don’t get this one AT all. Are they saying that kids are incapable of carrying on intelligent conversation? Are they saying that it is rude for kids to be in the same room with adults? Are they saying that adult conversation is inappropriate for kids? Are they saying kids…I really don’t get it. In my reality, my kids would rather not hang out with boring adults anyway, but they DO have that option. I believe that kids can learn a lot about the world by being around adults, and some kids relate better to adults than to kids their own age.

“We ate what was cooked, or nothing.” In addition, many households during this time required the children to eat everything on their plates before being allowed to have dessert. There are a lot of families who still have these sorts of rules; however, when you have one or two children with sensory differences you tend see the world a little bit less rigidly. It’s hard to force a child to eat chili if he hates spicy food, or to eat black beans if he will only eat refried. So I make adjustments to the menu. I make my son a quesadilla instead of making him eat chili. Of course, in an ideal world, I’d love to give up my job as short order cook, but with hungry skinny kids, I will stick with it a while longer. And hey, let’s all eat dessert first!

“When told to do something, we did it. We didn’t say I will do it later”. I will give them a concession on this one. It IS nice to have my kids do what I ask. However, what makes me feel uncomfortable is the implication that if they don’t do it there will be severe punishment. I want my kids to learn to do things because they are part of the family and have responsibilities, not because if they don’t, they won’t be able to sit down for a week.

All too often adults look back on their childhoods and seem to say, “I survived and I turned out okay” then they raise their children the same. Nothing changes. No one changes. No one grows. No one steps outside the box. They are raising a bunch of cookie cutters in a colorless world.

I believe that children are creative, colorful and intelligent human beings. They are entitled to have opinions, to have likes and dislikes, to do things in creative ways. When we hold our kids too tightly to rigid rules and see our way as the only way, we stifle their individuality and creativity. I don’t want my kids to grow up JUST like my generation. It is a different world now. Cookie cutter kids will not flourish in a world that changes so rapidly.

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