“I’m bored! There’s nothing to do!”
Every time one of my children utters that line, my soul gives a little smile. Because I believe boredom to be a necessity of childhood. In a world that barrels forward full steam ahead, our children are growing up like no generation before them.
Constantly entertained, kids today have little need for imaginative play. At their fingertips is a world created for them. It’s pixelated and colorful, and it threatens to undo them entirely if we don’t step in and shut it down.
There’s something magical about childhood boredom. Out of it is birthed some of the greatest imaginative fantasy our world has ever known. Entire worlds are erected when a child is given the freedom to be bored. When he isn’t told how to think, he actually begins to think all on his own, a novel idea indeed.
But boredom does more than simply ignite our children’s dormant imaginations. It also allows them the opportunity to just be kids – to explore and play with toys; to paint, and climb trees, and maybe even lie on their backs in the grass and finds shapes in the floating clouds.
As a mom, I feel like I’m in a constant battle with the pop culture that wars for my children’s attention. They come home daily telling me of books that their peers are reading – books meant for audiences much older than they are. They want to watch all the movies they see advertised – movies that were not designed for little eyes.
And there is the constant pressure to indulge in the latest piece of technology, or to jump into the world of social media, because my children are of the mindset that everyone in the world but them has an Instagram account.
Parenting is a battle. It seems that every day I am waging a war against pop culture, and the conflicting messages that culture sends to my children. I’m fighting too much exposure to the online world, too much screen time, the lyrics of popular songs. I’m battling against a world that tells them to grow up young, that tells my daughter her worth is found in how she dresses (and looks in clothing). Television shows emasculate men, while music demeans women.
This isn’t to say that we’re hard core limiting what they see and hear. On the contrary, we allow quite a bit of freedom for our children to see and hear things in this pop culture world. We don’t want to put them in a bubble. But we do want to teach them that just because something is popular doesn’t mean we need to be exposed to it.
The fact is, my kids aren’t ready to hear all the messages the world has to offer. They are not adults living in tiny bodies. They’re children learning to navigate their way through this world. And pop culture is not the voice I want dictating who my children become, how they think, and how they behave.
I want to challenge them to be deep thinkers, to have minds of their own, rather than to be tiny robots easily controlled by the next popular books/song/movie, etc…To that end, I’m taking my job as guardian seriously.
Children have a life time to be grown up – a life time to long for the days when boredom was the worst of their problems. Children have a life time to worry about relationships with the opposite sex, and they have their entire adult life to deal with adult things.
Their time to be little is so very short, so as a mom I will do everything in my power to protect that short amount of time. Once the tween years hit, life begins to spiral forward. And as those tweens step into their teens, the time for childish things will be something of the past.
Until that day comes, I’m going to enjoy the imaginative play brought about by boredom and innocence.
This is a topic that can be touchy as we all have different opinions on when it’s okay to let kids use social media, watch certain movies, listen to certain music, and read bigger books. For that reason, I purposely did not put an age limit on what I felt appropriate in this post, because what’s right for my family may not be right for your family. But I’d love to hear your thoughts.
How are you combatting this business of raising kids in a digitized, pop-culture world?