“My sons are different because we live a different life,” writes Veronica Grace.
I watched a documentary on the Amish today. While I disagree with them on some very important issues, I found myself feeling a kinship with them when they began to talk about raising their children with very different beliefs from the world around them. One man said:
“We want to be a society of people that are separate from the world, but still we want to be friends with the world. But it’s tough, you rub shoulders with the outside world and after awhile you’re just like they are. And it happens fast.”
There was a related story about an Amish man who is asked by a group of tourists how the Amish are different. The story goes that the man asked the group how many of them have televisions at home and everyone raised their hand. He then asked them how many of them thought that their family might be better off without television and almost all of the group raised their hands. He then asked how many of them were going to go home and get rid of the TV and no one raised their hand. He told them that the difference was that the Amish would get rid of things that they felt were bad for their families.
Much like the Amish I look around at the things mainstream Americans feed their children’s minds, bodies and souls and I worry. We are all on our own paths and I have no room to judge. I am not a perfect parent, I make mistakes. I’m fumbling to find my way, but my ideal is this: if it is bad for my family then I will do my best to change it. Many people think I go to extremes. They wonder, “What is a little bit of artificially colored sugary junk going to hurt?” They think my sons are missing out on all of the latest shows and video games. They think I am ruining Christmas with my refusal to lie about Santa or make it a day of many gifts.
These same people often comment on how wonderful my sons are. They will even say in amazed respect, “Wow, there are still kids who drink water?” or “They are so good!” but so often they have a disconnect from their complimentary opinion of my sons and how they are being raised. They seem to believe that my sons are good kids and I don’t need to be so extreme.
I agree that my sons are wonderful. They are two of my favorite people in the world. They are kind, smart, sassy, funny, good people. I don’t just think this because I’ve brainwashed them to agree with me either. I make the parental decisions, but they bring me respectful, well thought out debates (and a few temper tantrums) about the way our family works. I do my best to listen (when I’m not having a temper tantrum).
The thing people seem to not understand is that the reason my sons are different is because we live a different life. It is not a case of my just being handed two amazing kids so I don’t have to do much, they are who they are in part because of how we raise them. They read like crazy because the TV is rarely ever on, the adults are always reading books and we go to the library every week. They drink water because soda is not an option. They eat tons of vegetables because we worked for years to make that happen. They are respectful because I treat them with respect and they are used to having boundaries. They may still rub shoulders with the outside world, but there is a core foundation inside.
Photo: alotor / flickr