In a discussion, someone had written "I reckon I can learn to live with Barbie and it's very freeing."
Karen James responded:
I read this the other day on Just Add Light and Stir, and it has really stuck with me. It's about ice cream, but to me it could be about anything our children are enjoying.
The title of the post is "Don't taint the ice cream" and it goes on to say:
It creates a trap, a trick question, an adversarial relationship, an opportunity for failure, if there is "a right answer" to the question "What do you want to eat?" Or if an overjoyed "can I have some ice cream?" is met with a sigh, and eyes rolling, and another sigh, and a dirty look, and a summary of what the child has already eaten that day, and a reminder of when the next meal is, and a head shake, and a mention of ingredients... or even ONE of those, it taints the ice cream. It harms the relationship. It makes the child smaller. It does not, correspondingly, though, make the parent larger.If we, as parents, can do more than "learn to live" with something our children are interested in...if we can learn to truly embrace our children's interests, delight in their curiosity around anything - even (and maybe especially) those things we might have a historic distaste for - then we can move several steps closer to a more meaningful, lasting relationship.
photo by Karen James
|Don't taint the ice cream|
It creates a trap, a trick question, an adversarial relationship, an opportunity for failure, if there is "a right answer" to the question "What do you want to eat?" Or if an overjoyed "can I have some ice cream?" is met with a sigh, and eyes rolling, and another sigh, and a dirty look, and a summary of what the child has already eaten that day, and a reminder of when the next meal is, and a head shake, and a mention of ingredients... or even ONE of those, it taints the ice cream. It harms the relationship. It makes the child smaller. It does not, correspondingly, though, make the parent larger.
photo by Sandra Dodd
He published this quote, by me, when he shared his writing on his blog:
When parents and children can be partners rather than adversaries, communications will be flowing and open.When I put the quote on Just Add Light and Stir, someone using the name OrganisedPauper commented:
In families with punishments, criticism and shaming, children sometimes avoid the parents in social situations, and they will hesitate to share secrets or problems with their parents.
I wish I'd realised this when my older daughter was younger. She's an adult now. I was so down on Barbies and My Little ponies because they were girlie/fluffy and stereotypical. Now I can see how much fun we could have had and how much happier we could have been. If anyone still holds these ideas about their childrens interests, stop it right now before it's too late, because you will regret it and then all you can say to your child is 'I'm sorry'.In August, 2018, I brought the quote to the Radical Unschooling Info group, on facebook,
My 7 year old daughter and I were talking about this the other day.
She brought up with me that a girl in her life (same age) who, up until recently, shared her passion for a popular collectible mini doll set.
Her mother discouraged buying of said collectibles for various reasons, including the toxic plastic, the cost, and, from what my daughter shared, their uselessness. Ultimately, the mother banned the girl from acquiring them for a year. The girl told my daughter recently that she no longer likes the little dolls.
My daughter has been passionate about these dolls since they came out and her passion has inspired dress making, the use of paper clay to alter the appearance of the dolls, completely changing the dolls into super heroes (with paint), endless hours of imaginative play, and the sheer delight of unboxing the dolls. Plus the joy of researching something of interest on youtube
My daughter came to me and said "when [the mother] banned [the girl] from having the dolls, doesn't she know she's cutting off a piece of the girl?". She went on to say how she believes (remember, she's 7), that when an adult doesn't support an interest, the child will actually cut a part of themselves off, and that it makes the child "less of a child, and more of an adult. They stop liking kid things because the parent doesn't like kid stuff."
It was such a profound insight for someone so young.
Of course, the girl could have naturally become less interested in the dolls over time, it might not be totally due to the mom. But what was interesting, to me, was my daughters take on the situation. It helped me understand her better and to appreciate how much self-knowledge she has already.
I showed my daughter the quote from the original post Sandra made today, and her 7 year old mind said that she doesn't think that the parent thinks less of the child or the child thinks less of the parent. I think it's because she has such a full attachment bank that she can't imagine a severed relationship. It's not up to me to explain to her how this could (and does, in fact) happen over time.
And it makes sense then, that (in her mind) if the parent and child don't distance themselves as a result of parental rejection of child interest, the only other option is for the child to sever a part of his or herself.—Alex Arnott, August 12, 2018
Alex wrote:-=-Of course, the girl could have naturally become less interested in the dolls over time, it might not be totally due to the mom.-=-Now it will be impossible to know whether the mother's criticism caused that or not.
Parents who support an interest sometimes see it continue for many years, or for a few years, or for a few months, but if the child naturally lets that go and picks up other hobbies or pursuits, everyone can be happy!
Zach's essay, parts one and two, on his mom's blog, with her intro: A Problem and a Solution
On Zach's own blog, with a longer intro: Problem Essay, and the second part: Solution Essay
From another topic a few years earlier,
For me I think the biggest applications of unschooling in terms of my marriage are the ideas of embracing and supporting other people's passions and interests—not just my child's, but my husband's too. And accepting people for who they are, not trying or wanting to change them or 'fix' them. Valuing everyone in our family for who they are and working together to meet everyone's needs. Unschooling is good for marriages.
Supporting someone or something requires strength and confidence.
Support is holding something up.
Support is upholding something.
Support your child. Lift him up above you.
photo by Sandra Dodd