I can’t speak for all minimalists, but I would like to offer my philosophy on parenting as a minimalist. I have discussed before in a previous post how I go about raising a child in this lifestyle. That is not exactly what I want to discuss here. Here, I discuss what I believe to be the ideal mindset toward being a parent in general. I feel compelled to say something, because as I look out there in the world I see many parents in action, and quite frankly ……. I’m often appalled. I believe that so many parents out there are just doing it wrong.
As minimalists, we reduce our lives down to people and passion. We realize that life is all about the relationships we build and the things that compel us, the things that drive us; our passions. It is my belief that when we procreate we make a commitment. A commitment to ourselves, our spouse, and our child. A commitment to take on this child as our primary relationship, and our primary passion. The moment we bring a child into the world, our priorities shift this way.
We must establish strong relationships with our children. Be involved in every aspect of their lives. Their interests must become our interests. It is not enough for us to sit on the outside looking in and supervising. No no, that’s lazy. Our children are to feel comfortable with some sense of security that we are always there.
Too often do I see parents too involved in their own activities and pedantic drama, that they don’t give due attention to their children. I’ve seen dads playing video games, while their 2 yo is trying to get their attention to play with them. The dad says “Go away, can’t you see I’m busy here.” The child looks at the floor in sad rejection, and walks away. I go to indoor and outdoor “play areas” or parks, and see kids playing alone while their parents sit on the side gossiping with each other. These actions (or inaction’s) set the foundation for the type of relationship (or lack there of) we have with our children the rest of theirs and our lives. Of course, it’s always possible that what ever bullshit we were gossiping about with our adult friends on the side was more important than that (sarcasm).
Too often do I hear parents of older children complain that their children spend too much time on their digital devices and as a result are completely disconnected from them. To them, I have a couple things to say. First: If we had established a strong bond with our children from the get go, it would not have come to this. Second: In this new age, it is these digital media devices and social networking outlets that are the primary forms of communication. Or haven’t we heard? It is not the kids who are not communicating. It is the parents who have not modernized and caught up with the times to the new form of communication. Because you can bet sure as hell, the children are not going to regress into our old archaic obsolete ways of communication, gaming, and entertainment.
Let us not forget, as parents it is our job to connect with our children, not the other way around. Wanna connect with your kid? Pick up your smartphone, open a Twitter account, and get cracking. Want your kid to engage in activities you understand, and don’t seem like a waste of time? Instead, educate yourself on the activities they are involved in, and when you realize that not only is it not a waste of time, but there is an entire sub-culture around it, dive into these activities with your kid.
In summation: It is not your child that is disconnected from you. It is you that is disconnected from your child. Establishing that connection is YOUR job. In order for you to do that, you need to understand the world that your child lives in. Ya know, the real wold, and then meet them on their ground. The philosophy of “Well I’m set in my ways, and my son/daughter is just gonna have to meet me on my terms” just doesn’t work. Want to know why? Because your “terms”, your world, is obsolete. So get with the program, and get involved with our child’s life.
If all parents approached parenting based on these simple guidelines, we would avoid: Bullying suicides, teen pregnancy, school heroin epidemics, and school shootings. Think about it.