In an ideal world far, far away
For a generation of baby boomers who were raised pretty much by nurturing principles articulated by Dr. Spock and whose own parents were raised by the “spare the rod, spoil the child” model, it’s good to see that bonding between parents and child is still the preferred method of raising this current generation, by some parents at least. Sadly however these parents are in the minority as indicated in current polls taken that studied a certain parenting model.
A poll conducted by Harris Interactive found that only 33 percent of U.S. parents read bedtime stories with their children nightly. Fifty percent of parents say their children spend more time with TV or video games than with books.
The results were similar in another poll from Australia. The Optus Literacy Study revealed that only one in four parents read a bedtime story to their child daily. SOURCE
Good parenting is being lost out to bad parenting in so many ways but as this poll shows, it could be the result of new parents who were not raised by more disciplining parents who set down rules and guidelines for their children and carried them out. When fifty percent of parents say their children spend more time with TV or video games than with books one has to wonder why a parent would allow this.
Technology has its place in our contemporary world today but when it starts to substitute for practices that have been proven to have great social and personal skills building for a new generation, it falls on parents to draw the line. Clearly most can’t seem to do that today.
And don’t get me wrong. I’m not for reinstating another generation’s practice of using corporal punishment to serve as an impetus to mold behavior. At least not where it’s used as a convenience for the parent who fails to serve as a good role model for appropriate behavior. Using fear through physical and emotional threats only suppresses the undesirable behavior which will likely allow it to resurface later in life, sometimes much worse, when the child is no longer under the thumb of a heavy-handed parent.
But I’m really not telling most people something they don’t already know, even if they are guilty of succumbing to such tactics more often than not, or worse, sorely lacking in any style of disciplinary action in raising their children. As the poll above suggests, 50% of American parents apparently give in to their children’s demands rather than guiding them with a firm disposition that is balanced with rewards and non-physical, emotionally sound punishments.
An informal, unscientific poll found on the MSN browser that was attached to this study illustrated that a strong majority of those who responded to the poll still understand the value of reading to kids during their formative years as opposed to allowing them to supplant such times by viewing TV shows or playing video games.
Is less bedtime reading a bad trend?
95% – Yes, parents need to foster reading in their kids – 427,719 votes
5 % – No, TV & video games aren’t as bad as people think - 20,246 votes
This particular polling data aligns with the numbers in a 2007 study that shows corporal punishment is still used by over 90 percent of American parents at some point in time, and condoned by over 60 percent of the population. One wonders that if the MSN group were asked about corporal punishment reflected in the 2007 group’s response along side their beliefs about reading with their children, if that 2007 90% figure would drop significantly. In other words, might there be a correlation between spending quality reading time with their children and a lesser need to spank misbehaving kids? Just a thought
SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH KIDS AT AN EARLY AGE
Reading to children has more value to it than merely teaching them a skill that will enable them to excel in school and better qualify them for the better jobs in society later in their lives. Unlike interactions between kids and their hi-tech toys, reading to your children when they are young develops a bond that is deeper and lasts longer than anything Big Bird or Angry Birds can convey.
At close quarters with each other the child’s intellectual senses are not only stimulated as a parent reads to them but the senses of touch and voice tones from parents help the child capture an aspect of humanity that not only endears them to their parents but can translate into more empathetic social behaviors as the child grows and develops a circle of friends and looks for love as an adult.
When I and my wife used to read to our two children at bedtime we not only gave them some one-on-one quality time that was often absent with two parents who worked a 40 hour week but it allowed them to ask us questions about the story when it didn’t quite fit their level of understanding at the time. This two-way interaction is missing as a child sits in front of a one-way TV tube that Marie Winn called “the sorcerer” in her 1977 study, The Plug-in Drug, of TV’s effect on children. The tube or electronic screen gives out information that children can’t challenge so that information gets absorbed in their fertile brains as sent and settles in for years as the de facto way of looking at what they were told or shown.
But even more valuable than asking questions about the story, kids would use this time to make parallels between what they thought they were hearing and what was going on in their own lives. These concerns would be raised at such times and would afford us an opportunity to see what was really going on in their lives. Something that shuts itself off as kids get older and start to distance themselves from their parents. A natural course of events for both good bad and purposes.
Why would any parent forsake that opportunity? Parenting is tough enough as it is, especially for dads as I have humorously demonstrated before. Once our kids evolve into young adults we lose those opportunities to get close to them and have a lasting effect. To this day my adult children still recall the little bedtime “night-night” song I used to sing to them when story time was over and I began to tuck them in.
Yes it was corny and both of them hated it but not because I couldn’t carry a note (I couldn’t) or because the verses were terrifying or harsh in any way. But because I think they knew that the special time was over. What wasn’t corny was that intimate attention they got from their mom and I in that brief time.
Neither has admitted as much to me when they remind me today how they hated to hear that little bedtime ditty. But the fact that they readily recall it is a reminder to them, I like to tell myself, that we had that special time. A time I hope they remember when it becomes their turn to share a close moment with their kids, should I be so lucky to be graced with grandkids before the grim reaper sings it’s own version of a bedtime song for me.