"When should I interrupt this world of pretend to introduce them to what is real?"
I so enjoyed your presentation to the AAUW last night. I agree with everything you said about taking time to nurture the imaginations of our children. I thank God every day that my mother let me "play" and have a magical childhood.
But I worry. My three children seem caught up in so much fantasy that I wonder if they will be able to function in the real world.
My oldest is eleven and spends most of his free time playing video games. When he's not in front of the computer, he presents a personality that is hostile, angry and impatient with the rest of us.
My daughter is trapped in the whole "Barbie" business and that worries me. She and her friends make up all sorts of Barbie adventures and stories. I listen in and am sometimes shocked at what she imagines her dolls can do.
And my baby is glued to PBS programs.
It seems like media images and applications have taken over imagination in my home.
They, all three of them, still believe in the Tooth Fairy, Santa and even the Easter Bunny.
When should I interrupt this world of pretend to introduce them to what is real? The obligations of being a good person and a responsible human being?
I'll watch for your reply via email - and please, feel free to use this on your website.
Dear Laura -
It's not easy being a mother, is it? We introduce magic, and then wonder if our children's lives are too magical. We nurture imagination, and wonder if we have engendered madness rather than creativity.
Laura, my friend - my advise to you is to relax. Trust me - your children's hearts and minds will not be ripped asunder by Barbie or video. I know it's hard to believe, but you are probably a wonderful mother. How about that?
You know, Laura - most of us don't get enough feedback on this part of our lives. Although we hang out with other women raising children, we don't often praise each other for the good we are doing.
I think this - if (as you indicate) you are raising three healthy, well behaved and imaginative children, you are doing a great job.
Now; to look a little deeper at some of the issues you address - - let's consider this. Your son seems to have a budding "anger" behavioral problem. Like most children, he needs physical as well as mental/fine motor/intellectual stimulation.
My recommendation - enroll him in a class this fall at the YMCA. Martial arts, perhaps - something where he learns physical restraint while demonstrating his physical abilities. If he has the interest or the aptitude, see if you can get him involved in football or hockey.
Your other children? They're fine. Don't worry about the fantasy world of Barbie, Skipper and Ken. They're dolls, and there is no harm in playing with dolls. I know, I know... it doesn't sound "feminist" to say so - - but our little girls are not corrupted by the oddly formed body of Miss Barbie. As long as we draw our children close to us in as many other ways as possible, our toy makers cannot harm them.
And your little one is watching too much PBS? Is there such a thing as too much PBS?
Laura - - -a deep breath is in order. Look at your darling children and smile - - you, my dear, are doing a wonderful job. Congratulations - and enjoy!! This part of life fades like summer. Grab hold, cherish your children, and relax.
You are a wonderful mother.
Presbyterian pastor, broadcast commentator, playwright and great friend.