Another confession. Or two.

Since I’ve already shared my true feelings about Halloween I might as well put it all out on the table.

I hope my kids don’t ever want to go to Disneyland.  And I think the Duggars (from TLC’s 18 and Counting show) are one cool family.

Oh boy.  Before you think I’ve stepped off the deep-end hear me out.

On Disneyland:

Yes, I realize that my children would have a blast and in all honesty I probably would too.  However in all seriousness, (and before you completely write me off as a terrible mother) I’d better explain why I’d rather not take my kids to Disneyland or embrace all that it entails.

I guess it’s not so much Disneyland – it’s just an easy target and therefore prefect example.  Without a doubt many happy memories have been made there and I’m certain that our family will make the pilgrimage at some point.  It’s just that I’m not one for the super-commercialization of things.  (If you must know yes, it bothers me that my son recognizes Sponge Bob.  It bothers me that I have now written about Sponge Bob.)  I feel it’s worth asking: Why can’t we go to a place like Disneyland or the grocery store for that matter without someone trying to sell my kids something?  As Henry gets older I’m realizing how everything is marketed to our kids.  I’m not buying it.  I do my best to avoid character themed clothing and to encourage toys without character themes into our house.  Yes I realize that my days are most likely numbered and I will lose some control over this as our kids age, but for now I’m taking full advantage of my mom “veto” power.

A disclaimer, yes Henry loves Curious George and we have plenty of George books and a couple of stuffed monkeys.  I think the key here is m-o-d-e-r-a-t-i-o-n.  I don’t think Mickey Mouse is the devil.  However my kids aren’t wearing Elmo diapers while munching on a Hanna Montana endorsed cereal, which has been marketed to them during High School Musical, while they sit in their Transformer chair, drinking Donald Duck orange juice.  There is a difference.

My point?  I will not intentionally allow my children to become commercial billboards.  I want my kids to know that they can do and be anything – not just what is sold to their “target market.”  That just because every other little boy in America was a themed costume character, it’s still OK (and way cooler) to be Henry the fireman.  Or Henry the golfer, the architect, or yard guy.  I want so much for my son and I never want him to judge his worth by a product that he either has or doesn’t have.   My intentions for him are so much greater than some company that is just looking to make a buck at my child’s expense.

And just when I thought I was the only one that had such crazy thoughts in the middle of the night (struggling to stay true to what you believe – even when it’s not cool, or the easy way) I stumbled across another dad who has similar thoughts on the subject.

He writes:

…If the only thing you’re feeding your children is fantasy for breakfast they’re going to be starving by noon, crash, and want a taste of the solid safe everyday life. All of the sudden you blink, they’re 3ft tall, opinionated, and they’re feasting on Happy Meals and soaking in Dora the *&^%#@ Explora like some new kid religion. So when you set to drag them away from it, throw them an apple and suggest a walk they think you’re being a mean #^&%$#. They think you’re depriving them of the good life. I don’t want this to happen. I can’t let this happen. So what has become vital to me, is to teach them that they can have more, but at the same time making sure that I am never feeding them delusional promises I can’t deliver myself. If I want them to believe that anything is possible, than I have to show them proof of that in their own lives. It isn’t enough to say that the world should be explored, we will just have to go out and explore it– that kind of a thing.

This little family of mine has children that are still too young to know the difference between the things that they are “supposed” to have, and the things that they simply just need. They have a chance like all children do to live a truly unique life. I am living under the belief that I will provide them that unique life. If I didn’t believe that than I couldn’t smile everyday like I do.

Love it.

(I’ve edited this a bit, making it more G-rated, but you can get the full post at Pacing the Panic Room.)

On the Duggar family:

I have a eight-week old baby.  Clearly I’m spending quite a bit of time on the couch nursing.  This has resulted in a DVR full of “18 and Counting” episodes ready for me once the kids are in bed.  Some may call this lame.  Heck even I originally thought so, but even my sleep-deprived mush-for-a-brain was able to pick up some pretty cool themes.

I’ll give it to them – I think they are really on to something.  No, I’m not totally on-board with the whole 18 kids myself, but their decision to put family first is pretty darn cool in my book.  They aren’t afraid to go against the grain, choosing not to follow the “norms” that our culture has embraced.  Instead they have decided that people are the priority.  They don’t look at their children as burdens, and I’m doubtful that with 18 kids they have much in the way of “free” or “me” time.  But they are a very happy and loving family whose desire is to serve as an encouragement to other families.  And based on my postpartum observations that’s something to look twice at.

I realize that this post might make it seem like I’m teetering on the edge of crazy.  But I strongly believe that as mom, my role is to protect and guard my little ones as long as I can, because if I don’t then who will?  It may involve making choices (big and little) that will take our family down a road less traveled, but I’m ready for the adventure.

Slowly stepping away from the soapbox…

*I’m curious…your thoughts please…

**And yes I realize that as fate will have it next year I will end up with a Transformer, Handy Manny, and Clifford in our house for Halloween…

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10 thoughts on “Another confession. Or two.

  1. I’m confused. You don’t want your kids to become commercial billboards but at the same time you praise the Duggar family who allow cameras into their home to create a television show that will become profitable by selling commercials? I would guess that it would be much more damaging psychologically for a child to grow up on a “reality” tv show than to take a kid to disneyland.

    Anyways, I love you lots and thanks for dinner the other night!

  2. I like your honesty, and I love this particular confession. We lived in NW Arkansas until a few years ago and we used to see the Duggars out around the area (before they were famous, mind you), and they are the REAL deal. So authentic and genuine, and their show has earned back some of the respect I’d lost for TLC.

    The commercialization of kids issue is a big one for me. It’s why I love PBS, shows on DVD, and movies that we choose together.

  3. Maybe this is unrealistic (ok…I’m almost positive it is), but I just don’t plan on letting my child watch much television. Like, next to none. We got rid of our t.v. just before our son was born, for this very reason. I know that if I have it around, I’ll watch it, and I didn’t want him to a) watch t.v. as a baby, or b) see me watching t.v., when what I should be doing is playing with him, reading with him, taking a walk, etc.
    I grew up with very strict television rules. It was hard as a kid to have it so restricted, but now I see that my parents did me a great big favor by setting that example for their kids.

  4. Point taken Andy. However I would argue that while yes, it may initially seem contradictory, at least the Duggar family is simply sharing who they are with the world. They aren’t pretending to live out a fairy tale – its real life – their real life. And they aren’t trying to directly convince viewers to buy a product. They are selling the idea of family. But I do agree living your life in a TV show could be confusing…I guess it just goes to show that the lines of commercialism in our society have become very blurry.

  5. Have you read, Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture by Juliet Schor? It’s creepy. And it is so true that the more t.v. my sons watch, the more they want “stuff”. Have to stick with DVDs :-)

  6. You make some great points. I think it is more in HOW as PARENTS we approach the world. I have 4 little girls (7,5,3,1). They are only allowed to watch PBS kids, which doesn’t carry commercials and occasionally the Disney channel, but I closely monitor the show and commercials. And yes, we have been to Disney 4 years in a row (my husband grew up there and can’t resist). But when we go there, they are more in awe of the whole thing and enjoy the rides. Can’t recall that we ever went into a gift shop the first couple years and just me and Grandma this past year. We strive daily to help our girls see, that they have soooooooo much to be thankful for and to always give back. We did Birthday Boxes for a homeless shelter this fall. Our children eat nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner…snacks too. It is a teaching moment in the grocery store, to help them look at the ingredients and quality of a product that we are going to eat. They actually get that and I have found that they are more willing to grab carrots or an apple for a snack because they see the value in health and they get the example from their parents. I see nothing wrong with Mickey Mouse raisens as long as they are organic and fit the budget and my kids know that it always comes down to health and budget at the grocery store:)

    Keep them safe/protected as long as you can and then take it up as moments to teach your children about health and “stuff”. Thanks for the post.

  7. I am with you–our children are teenagers now and we certainly struggle with the cultural issues daily. They have never had a store-bought halloween costumes. We have fun all of the month of October thinking of and planning for and making the costume. This year our 13 year old daughter and her friend made their costume–they were two-peas-in-a-pod. They had fun planning and sharing the experience. I have caved in other areas but mostly the commercialization is out. It is a hard battle but as a mother with older children, I say go for it!

  8. “Are they all yours?” I was asked in the grocery store … I looked around me to see if I had picked up any “extras,” but no, she really was referring to my 3 beautiful boys. Since when did 3 kids earn you an “all yours” question? I didn’t tell her that just that morning, Micah had prayed for a little sister. (Which makes me a little nervous … we all know how God answers those prayers from children!!) But, yes, we are cautiously open to the idea of #4 … which will then REALLY raise eyebrows in the grocery store!

    I love you, Libby, and I love your attitude, and I love the way you share your ideas and opinions so eloquently. I only wish we still lived close by!! We miss you guys.

  9. Libby, I am so, so with you on the commercialization of childhood. I cringe at characters blazoned on everything from diapers to lunchboxes to backpacks to cracker boxes…ick, ick, ick. I’m curious to see how I react when Viv get to the age where she might ask for these things. Ugh. For now, I am thrilled she doesn’t know who Elmo is…thrilled, I tell you!

    (But I do enjoy Disneyland – I don’t enjoy the “stuff” with characters on it – ick again . But the few times I’ve been as an adult, I left saying “It really is the happiest place on earth!” Just don’t ask me to wear a tinkerbell t-shirt!)

  10. I agree with you, too. I would love for my kids to be TV-free. But I also enjoy being married so I’m not making too big of a fuss anymore because my husband likes to let them watch. Incapacitating morning sickness has led to a bit more TV watching then usually, too. I have enjoyed watching the Duggars, too. They are so sweet and treat each other so kindly while managing so many children. A couple other TLC stars may have benefitted from their example. As far as the contradiction mentioned by your first commentor, they Duggars don’t even have a TV and have to go to their relatives house to watch their own show premiers. I’m glad they are sharing their life with us.

    I’m all for avoiding stress in parenting, too. No parades, pumpkin patches, or county fairs for us during this time period of many small children.

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