Monday, April 10, 2017

Parenthood: Week 199 – Who's in control of the music in the car?

The majority of the time, I’d say like 70% of the time when I’m in the car, Ollie is in control of what we are listening to the car. Sometimes he doesn’t care and we listen to whatever I’m in the mood for, but the reality is that in these situations, I’m still choosing music focused on what’s good for Ollie.

Whenever we watch television together, we watch what Ollie wants to watch or we watch something that is appropriate for him. I have never put on a movie or a show that I wanted to watch and had Ollie watch along with me.

The same goes for books, I don’t read aloud books to him that I’m reading for pleasure. I read Ollie children’s books and most of the activities that we experience together are focused on Ollie’s development stage.

There’s a couple things going on here. First off, the main thing I current enjoy watching on television is professional wrestling, which is not appropriate for Ollie. Much of what I enjoy listening to in the car are podcasts like the Savage Lovecast which is, again, not appropriate for Ollie. He would be bored to tears if I read the books I’m interested to him, and frankly, there’s not a lot of stuff that I enjoy doing that isn’t child centered anyways.

The other piece of this is how much parents are willing to modify their lives for their children. Some people decide that going to church every Sunday is something is they are going to do and they will make their kids go along with them. There are others who feel this commitment to not modifying their lives for their kids to a lesser degree (some to a greater degree) about watching sports on television.  Some parents see involving their children in their own interests and routines as enriching their children's lives, but some parents really are just dragging their kids along.

When I hear people talk about things like kids having control over what is being listened to in the car, I often hear an implication that parents are being too permissive. This is part of a larger trend of criticism around younger parents spoiling their kids and letting them get away with things. While I agree that there are parents nowadays spoiling their kids, I don’t believe that there are a higher percentage of these parents at any other point in history who are overly permissive. Just because you trained your kid to call you “sir” doesn’t mean that you aren’t spoiling them.

Letting Ollie choose what we listen to in the car isn’t about being permissive. It’s about nurturing his interests and helping him develop his voice. As annoying as it is to listen to the same song on repeat, I get it. I do the same thing when I’m into a song. My parents dealt with this when I was growing up and I’m sure it was annoying for them. But their tolerance of my obsession, led to my love of music and the depth in which I analyze music and experiences in my life.

The same goes for television and books. I usually indulge him in wanting to watch the same thing over and over and read the same book over and over. While this may seem like obsessive behavior, it’s actually a sign of positive brain development. When he is experiencing a piece of art over and over, he is working on prediction skills, strengthening his imagination and analyzing different aspects of what he is perceiving.

Allowing your child to delve deep into their interests and explore the art in their lives isn’t being overly permissive, it’s called loving them.

There is a balancing act. Ollie dose need to learn how to take turns when it comes to listening to songs in the car. It’s also important that we push Ollie out of his comfort zone and expose him to new art.

I’m okay putting aside my own music, televisions shows and other interests for my son. Because right now, my primary interest, the thing I am into the most, isn’t a song, a television show, or a book. It’s my son. It’s been that way since the day he was born, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

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