Input Please: “What I’d Never Give My Kid…”

OK, since I was off playing for Opinion Saturday, I’m just getting to your writing assignment for the week. Today I’ve had a couple things perking around in my head.

1.) First is this article —THE SHRINKING CHILDHOOD: Children are in a rush to grow up from a week or so ago.

2.) Second is this news story that was on NBC News tonight– Bono inspires, advocates change in Africa (scroll waaay down and watch the video about the 7 year old girl in Mali cooking dinner).

3.) Then you can go here Ethiopia Adoption Blog – Growing Up Too Fast? to read my thoughts that pull together these two stories.

All worn out? I hope not. Because now, having read all this, I’d like for you to tell me something you would NEVER consider buying for your kid. Why?

(Or if you strongly, strongly feel 3 year olds need their spa days, by all means defend that point of view eloquently and I will take it under consideration. I’m not promising I’ll then send my 3 year old off for a french pedicure. But, hey, you can try.)

I’m giving the Golden Keyboard Award for this contest. I’ll take comments through Friday evening, and announce the winner Saturday morning. Hit me with your best thought!


  1. I'd have to say 'cell phone' comes to mind first. I just got 2 parenting magazines in the mail this week (Parents and Parenting) and I'm pretty sure each had the same ad for a cell phone made for KIDS. The kid in the ad was supposed to be 6 or so. There are preprogrammed buttons for mom and dad, and also "room for 20 others". Sorry, but nope. If I forgot you at school (heaven forbid), get your bum back in the office and call me on their phone.

  2. I know families that allow their kids to have their own computers in their bedrooms. DH and I are very firm that this will never happen in our household. Our computer will always be where we can see what it is being used for. This is both to protect my child from predators and from having her mind poisoned by things she may stumble upon on the net.

  3. Hmm, many things some to mind! I don't like the idea of GameBoys–to much alone time staring at a tiny screen and too expensive! Also, TVs in the kids bedrooms–this is also too isolating, if you ask me. Cell phones–although we do have one for our oldest daughter who is driving but she doesn't use it for personal calls–only emergencies. I just don't like heading stories about kids who rack up $500 phone bills for their parents, you know?

  4. It would not be as much what will I never let them have or do as much as it is what I will let them do. I will let them be who they are called to be. I will develop skills that they are naturally drawn to. I feel that in the name of safety we cripple our kids from trying new things. My two year old loves to be in the kitchen with me as I cook. She has made scrambled eggs pretty much by herself. I heard the gasp. Fear not, I was standing right next to her. I taught her where to hold the handle and how to use the spatula. She wanted to learn. I want her to learn. I don't want my kids to be held back out of fear of__________. There will always be something to worry about, if we allow ourselves to worry. My 5 year old also had a desire to learn to cook at a young age. He makes some rockin scambled eggs. And I don't have to be hovering. He has provin himself more than capable to do the task, responsibly and safe.
    When approached with something out of the norm for their age, I have to take inventory. What is a reasonable boundry for this age? What are my fears, are they valid? How can I stand beside them and aid in developing this skill?

    As a result I have been amazed at what they really are capable of doing!
    At 3 my son learned to swim independantly. At 4, ride his bike with no training wheels, shimmy up poles and climb trees.

    Are you holding your kids back? Why?

  5. momteacherfriend– I LOVE that your kids are learning real skills. Good for you! That is totally different than giving 13 year olds limos and 3 year olds professional pedicures. Skills are part of what we SHOULD be 'giving' our kids!

  6. Those battery operated Jeeps that little ones ride in. I don't get the point of those. I love for my children to play and be ACTIVE while they are outside. A bike to pedal, hopscotch, hula hoops, roller blades, a soccer ball, bubbles, and so on are what I prefer. They seem like such a passive toy. I love for my little ones to get out and work their little legs and their imaginations.

    I am highly against how electronic children's playthings have become. Even baby toys now blink, sing, and vibrate. How overstimulating for a little one!

    The Classic Fisher Price toys like the Farm and the Airport just aren't the same with their electronic mooing and electronic airplane noises. Where once a child would supply the sound effects the toys now do it for them. Imagination robbers!

    I was delighted when someone gave us a Sit-N-Spin like from when I was young. It was disheartening to hear the electronic tunes come spilling out with each and every turn. I much prefer to hear my little ones sing their own little sweet songs as they spin.

    "Kill the batteries"! Is my motto~ then the REAL playtitme can begin!


  7. What would I never Give my kid?????

    I would love to say that I will never give my kids a wound, a scar, an emotional stumbling block.

    But I will. I am a broken man and my best will still fall so short of the mark.

    I would love to say that I will not give my children a false image of masculinity, or of authority.

    But I will. As hard as I try I will create mental hurdles that my children will have to overcome to become healthy adults.

    I have some of the best, most well adjusted kids I have ever met, yet when I look at them I can see where I have messed up so badly. Not on purpose, not even knowingly. But as a parent I have had to come to grips that no matter what I do I will not be perfect.

    I could have chosen the path of seclusion, find a nice communal living situation, home schooled the kids, removed the TV and Internet and taken the batteries out of all of their toys and controled all influences into my kids lives. But I spent a few years living that life when my parents decided they wanted to try being Mennonites, this life choice may actually work for some, but for me and the other kids my age we HATED our families, the basement of our church had a secret stash of dope and the Mennonite teens spent many a Sunday morning in the alley behind the church smoking dope. I can't say that it was because of the lifestyle I was living, but it was a rebelious act to try to remove myself from that lifestyle.

    I could take the route my uncle chose with his kids, no rules, no restrictions, give them everything they ever want. My cousin is a year younger than me, still lives with his parents, has no job, nothing higher than a highschool education, and is stoned every time I see him. The entire family is a mess of no morality, no asperations, and no unity. They live in a house and tolerate each other, but none of them actually like or respect anyone in the house.

    No, I've learned that the "I nevers" are always tested, and so often you wind up doing the very thing you said you would never do. I swore I'd never get married, or have kids. I did, and am adotopting 2 more to add to the 2 we already have. I swore I'd never spank my kids, and while my tender hearted daughter rarely needs to be spanked, my son would be Hell on Earth without them. I swore that I would never return to the "North" yet here I am on a church plant team moving to New Hampshire. I swore I'd never have a tv in my house again, that lasted 6 months. I swore I'd never own a minivan, yet here I am shopping the market trying to find a 4 door with captains chairs.

    No there is only one thing that I can truly say that I will never do (outside of the things that do not need to be spoken by any good and decent person, like abusing my kids) And that is I will never place my family into a place that my kids find themselves rummaging through the dumpsters behind the supermarkets taking a machete and cutting off the rotten parts of the food so the family can eat the good parts. I was that kid and carried that baggage for way to long.

    wow, I actually didn't intend to blog on your blog….

  8. I agree with the computers in the bedrooms. I think that is very very bad. I don't think that we should be standing over the kids back while they use the computer but I do think that they have to know that we still have control and will check up on them. I have a 13 year old that is on the computer all the time. I have a laptop that she uses and we have wireless but no computers are allowed in the bedrooms unless they are not hooked up to the internet.

  9. Materially speaking, I would never give my kids anything expensive, electronic, or isolating for their bedrooms. They have CD players in their rooms, however, and chosen-by-mommy CDs to listen to freely.

    I'd never give my daughter a Bratz doll. In my know-it-all feministic college days I'd get fired-up about Barbie and vowed to never let any daughter of mine play with one. I broke that vow, but will never, ever allow a Bratz doll through our door. They make Barbie look like Annette Funicello, Mother Theresa, and Joan of Arc all rolled into one virtuous piece of molded plastic with lots of itty bitty shoes.

  10. For me there are very obvious choices that I nix without thinking twice- tv's and computers in their rooms, cell phones, and there a number of toys that promote violence or other innapropriate things.

    However, with that said, I try not to underestimate my child's ability to use their imagination with anything they have- electronic or not, toy or not.

    In defense of toys that require batteries, my kids have had great fun over the years with electronic lights n' sounds toys and even a very used Powerwheels jeep I picked up for a song at a yard sale. Of their ride-on toys they will choose a scooter or trike over it any day but it's great fun to them to ride together up and down the sidewalk pretending to be grown-ups on a trip, to imitate daddy lifting the hood and tinkering, and packing their possessions in the cargo space.

    I think it's important to not limit their choices based only on what I do or don't prefer. The sky is the limit when it comes to imagination and learning. It's how we guide and teach them to use what they have around them as well as exercising moderation in our lives.

  11. I can't really think of anything that I would never buy for my kids except like pornography, drugs, alcohol, etc. As far as everything else goes it's never an issue because I have no money, but if I did we'd probably be having a ball buying whatever they wanted as long as they let us play too! We love to play together! Especially since my husband and I might as well be the older siblings when it comes to maturity. So yeah, it's good that us "teen" brained parents don't have the money to blow!

  12. Yikes, too bad we can't go back and edit our comments! "never have no money"? Where am I FROM?!

  13. I would agree with the choice of no TV in the child's bedroom. I know that my child would be so addicted to visual stimulation that I would not be able to interact with him at all. I would much rather spend time getting to know my child (his thoughts, feelings, fears, successes) than try to compete with the TV.

  14. We are big on having our kids earn their own money and save up to buy things for themselves. We find that they take care of them better, and they are more selective about what they really really want. They earn money doing extra chores (we don't pay for regular chores–they are part of family living) babysitting, pet tending/walking, Mowing the grass for neighbors etc.

    As for birthdays and christmas.. we have always kept to age appropriate things…mainly because we didn't want to get stuck in the predicament a lot of parents find themselves in: Since I got Jr. an IPOD last year, this year I have to get something better (read: MORE EXPENSIVE)
    What do you give a 10 year old who already has a TV/Vcr/Dvd/IPOD/Cellphone???

    I am eternally thankful that my parents taught me the value of hard work and to weigh the importance of what I buy.

  15. oooh….I hope that didn't sound preachy and "lookit-me-lookit-me".
    Egads…I do wish I could edit mine too cheerios! lol

    I'm more of a mom who substitutes for all those things other kids seem to be getting these days.
    Instead of going to get a professional pedicure/manicure.. we do pedicure/manicure at home. what a great opportunity to talk about stuff. We share a computer… thus learning how to share, budget our time, and be respectful of others.
    That sort of thing.
    I'm not perfect,THAT IS FOR SURE!!! I just hope I am giving my kids a different view of what is important.

  16. After reading that article, I am SO GLAD I'm raising my kids in Africa!! Things just seem more real here in some ways. I live in a nice house, with elec and water MOST of the time (it's a very developing country), but just outside my front door a family lives in a tent with no running water or toilet, sharing their living space with goats. The children are illiterate and don't go to any kind of school, even a bad one. My kids see how blessed they are materially, educationally, spiritually, and in every way imaginable. I think it's one of the best things I can give them.
    As for what I wouldn't give them? Hmm… we just bought a GameBoy at a yard sale here, plus 2 games, for $5 total; I used to say no Game Boy, but I know it's going to come in so handy on those long international plane rides. I am strict on what games I will allow, though. For me, it's best to never say never, but instead realize that I am very happy setting boundaries. I want to look at the big picture and stay involved in their lives, while allowing them more decision-making opportunities as they get older. I think what's important is not a specific thing in and of itself (i.e. cell phone, trip to a spa) but how it fits in the larger scheme of parenting and childhood experiences.

  17. Hey—cell phones aren't so bad! All of my kids got them this morning. Come see!

  18. dollymama– We bought a cellphone for our 18 year old for a graduation gift– lotsa minutes too, so I can call her and bug her when she is at college! grin…


  19. ha. i don't have any kids, so this will be totally uninformed. but from what i've seen; bratz dolls. they're hoochies, and their heads are too big for their (too skinny) bodies.

  20. I think we should never say never…

  21. Great story, Shelley and Keith. That's a perfect example of saving big treats for big accomplishments! Thanks for sharing!