The social science study of American families ("Life at Home in the 21st Century") that Beth Teitell wrote about in yesterday's Globe -- that people have "too much stuff, too little time" -- struck home. I have a closet that has a pile of some my son's childhood toys that I'm saving for the grandchildren. My son? Adult, single, happy.
Teitell interviewed a woman whose 2-year-old daughter has a kitchen set with 400 accessories. The little girl doesn't play with them, she'd rather be watching TV, her mom said. I also bet she'd rather play with the plastic storage containers in her mom's cabinet -- trust me, I know they are there -- than with the toy. To that mom, I also would point out that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation is for children 2 or under not to watch TV. This inability to process commercials is one reason why.
For a more nuanced read on the same topic, I suggest this piece in The New Yorker, "Spoiled Rotten, Why do kids rule the roost?" by Elizabeth Kolbert.
My take on all this? There's no denying we are all -- adults and children alike -- products of our culture. There's also no denying that we have created the culture, generation by generation. Time to take it back. Here are some sites that can help:
Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood;
"The Story of Stuff;"
Alliance for Childhood; Center for a New American Dream; Common Sense Media and Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment, also known as TRUCE.
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About the author
Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.