Thursday, December 11, 2008

Creative Deprivation

As Christmas day approaches quickly. We are struggling to control the AMOUNT of toys in our house, as I am sure many of you are as well. Sophia has been home a mere 6 months and I have already thinned her toys twice. We are so fortunate to have the ability to give her so much. We have the desire of course to spoil her to bits, especially this year, our first as a family. But is that the best thing? IS that healthy for her? I don't know the answers to that, but we are striving to not raise a spoiled brat. We want Sophia to have what she needs and even what she wants so we are learning how to do that at a slower more controlled pace.. The following was sent to me by a friend who I know feels the way I do about raising appreciative, well behaved, giving children....I hope you enjoy it...

As a result of all this stuff and stimulation, kids regard overload as a normal
condition. Anything less--a walk in the woods, making cookies, or sitting in a
classroom listening to a teacher--is boring."

She used "creative deprivation" to raise her children saying that every event
should have space around it, so that the event can stand out and be appreciated.
A simple example is a frame around a picture, which provides a space to make it
stand out from the busy wallpaper.

Until this century, the space occurred naturally. Entertainment and material
goods were hard to come by, so they were appreciated when they came along. A
child cherished his few toys, and music was a special event, because it could
only be heard when musicians were assembled.

The challenge of modern life is that we have to actively create the space. With
mass production, toys are cheap enough to swamp even poorer families. With TV,
videotapes, and video games, flashy entertainment can come into every home 24
hours a day.

The best parents understand that their kids can have too much of a good thing.
They place limitations on the stuff and stimulation. They are tough enough to
slow down the flow of goodies.

Often, people think we refuse to a avalanche our kids with toys because we're
tightwads. But saving money is not the main reason. I just feel there's nothing
sadder than a jaded eight year old.

Conversely, it's delightful to see a kid thrilled by a simple pleasure.

During a rare trip to a mall a few years ago, each kid got a junior cone, which
they consumed in complete silence, savoring every drip. She was very proud of
their ability to enjoy these little treats.

Many parents, seeing their children appreciate junior cones, would buy them
cones during each trip to the mall. Soon, seeing the kids enthusiasm waning,
they would assume they must wow them with banana splits. When those no longer
produce the desired effect, they would move up to the jumbo deluxe sundae..and
so on, until the kids became impossible to please.

She feels that "diminished appreciation" is a barometer indicating when kids
have had too much. Instead of moving up to the banana split, she simply
decreased the frequency of the junior cones.

Saving is a natural by-product of creative deprivation. Not only did she save on
the constant expense of the ever-increasing amount of stuff and stimulation, but
when I do treat the kids, they get the same wow for far less money.

Creative deprivation does have a few rules. Limit the things kids don't need,
but don't limit the things they do need--such as good nutrition and parenting
attention. Second, provide them with alternatives. Our kids have their own
"office" in my office where they do artwork, a tree house they can build on with
scrap wood, a playhouse in an attic, and a selection of Legos and other toys
that demand creativity. If you limit passive entertainment, kids eventually get
beyond the boredom and begin to be creative.

Incidentally, this insight isn't new. About 2500 years ago, the Chinese
philosopher Lao-tzu wrote:

Guard the senses
And life is ever full...
Always be busy
And life is beyond hope."

1 comment:

baci326 said...

I subscribe to this philosophy lock, stock and barrel. Stuff is just that...stuff and we can only use so much of it at any given time. Memories are forever and we can never have enough of the really great ones. Traditions and a sense of home and belonging and sure-footedness and love is what will set our children apart and give them what they need to go forth with strength, courage, determination and love in an uncertain world. Thanks Susan. I love this!!

who is raising two little girls from China to be strong, loving, giving, productive women!!