Friday, December 19, 2008

The One Most Important Thing

Last night I was enjoying an interesting conversation with some friends, including Vivian and Jerry and Laura, all of whom I was really glad to see, about the one most important thing to which kids are not being exposed. We all had stories about people who will share what that one thing is; here are a few we discussed, in no particular order.
  • Nutrition. Childhood obesity is a huge problem, and many parents could be doing more to help their kids eat better. On the other hand, some parents are undernourishing their kids with no fat, no sugar, all vegan/organic diets.
  • Outdoor free play. Richard Louv's Last Child In The Woods has led the charge for restoring kids' access to nature in an unstructured setting. He points out that "nature-deficit" can hinder physical and emotional development and lead to higher incidence of obesity, attention disorder and depression.
  • Music. Laura shared that her father runs a symphony program for urban children who have asked where the sounds they hear are coming from. Apparently they don't all know that humans can create music without shooting electrons through a technological device. Jerry shared how important the piano lessons his parents forced on him were for his overall well being, even though he didn't always enjoy it.
  • Overscheduling. Some kids spend all their time shuttling from one activity to another and end up burning out, even on things they once enjoyed and even excelled at.
  • Gaming. It will be fascinating to see what the first generation of computer gamers do as parents now that their kids are gaming. However, it seems plain that too many kids spend more time in their own virtual reality (where they are always the center of their game, they can't die or suffer any negative consequences and where they have absolute control), than they do in actual reality. A clear suspect in the Age of Self Entitlement.
We thought it would be interesting to create a panel of people, each of whom represent the One Thing they think is threatening the children of America. Now comes the question for you, Dear Reader: what would you add to the list?

P.S. Happy Birthday, Laura!


Cheryl said...

Wow, Laura!! Other than outdoor play and music, forms of creativity like imaginary play and original art work need more support. Who needs a coloring book, just paper and crayons will do please.

MELISSA said...

What a good conversation. All of those points are so relevant. The nutrition one especially rings a bell with's one thing to eat healthfully but it's TRUE--you can't leave out too much of the fat/oils/good sugars. Especially in the developmental stages--fats and oils are very important for brain and healthy tissue development. I commonly hear about young children suffering health problems due to the vegan diets their parents have them on. It's one thing to decide to keep a vegan lifestyle as an adult, but it's not good for the kids! (Infant deaths have even resulted from this!) Le sigh. This is a loooong comment, but clearly I'm very interested in this topic. I hope to teach healthy all-around nutrition to my future patients!

And, not that my opinion matters in the case, but props to you for spending so much time with Stellan playing both indoors and out. He's gonna be one smart, and fun, cookie! (He already is duuuuhhhh.)

Love ya.

Vivian said...

For young children, we didn't metion TV. I think this might be the root of a lot of societal evils.

Michaeljneal said...

I know this is more on a serious note but I am skewed from work. Parent stupidity is high on my list. I see too many things happen to kids becuase their parents are lazy i.e. not seatbelting them in the car, not watching them in the bathtub, leaving chemicals out that they will drink. Parent accountablity is the biggest risk to the children of the US. just my thought.

Patrick and Leigh said...

Ooh, I love the opinion portion of the cookie jar. Great discussion-my first thought on the subject has to do with the media that parents do expose their children the time I saw a Dad walk out of an R-rated movie with what seemed to be a 3 or 4yr. old. Unfortunately, I think this type of thing is pretty common and It's got to affect them. I mean, how can a child learn how to love others or to develop compassion when they've seen tons of violence from movies or tv?

Also, all three of you look the same! in 9 yrs. ago the same! Glad to hear you were able to get together and that you are well!