Mothers Need This, and Our Children Need it More (How to REALLY Make Childhood Magical)

It’s difficult to articulate how much I appreciate this article by Bunmi Laditan. How much I think we desperately  need to read it, yes, but BELIEVE it and live it.

My grandfather was a hard man. And so my father grew up hard. He had to shoot his favorite dog–his pet, his best friend–because the dog attacked the farm pig one day. Dad was 15 and Papa just handed him the gun and said “handle it.”

They had a dirt floor in a log cabin chinked with mud. One Christmas Papa forgot gifts. On Christmas Eve he ran to the drug store and bought my Dad a plastic watch.

My parents didn’t have toys. They didn’t go on vacations. But they turned out really well. Probably better than most.

So maybe these kinds of stories from our ancestors prompt us to give our children more. But then we fall into the other ditch, not realizing what “more” really is, and we sacrifice our time money and sanity for all the wrong things. This ditch is even worse. And in a subtly twisted kind of way, the Internet and social media like Facebook and Pinterest has fed the mania, often turning it into an egocentric, one-up performance.

In I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical, the author succinctly makes a case for simplicity and I applaud her. Mothers need it to relieve guilt and anxiety, families need it to relieve time and financial constraints, and children need it to grow up happier.

Read it.

“Parents do not make childhood magical. Abuse and gross neglect can mar it, of course, but for the average child, the magic is something inherent to the age. Seeing the world through innocent eyes is magical. Experiencing winter and playing in the snow as a 5-year-old is magical. Getting lost in your toys on the floor of your family room is magical. Collecting rocks and keeping them in your pockets is magical. Walking with a branch is magical.

It is not our responsibility to manufacture contrived memories on a daily basis.” Read the rest HERE.

 

11 Responses to “Mothers Need This, and Our Children Need it More (How to REALLY Make Childhood Magical)”

  1. Nicole says:

    Thank you so, so much for sharing this post. It really hit me- and I pray it sticks with me throughout our son’s childhood (he is 18 months now). We already went through one Pinterest-loaded birthday party complete with handfuls of DIY Eco/green decor- which I have pictures to prove (boast about). Time consuming, stressful, in a far away recycle bin- the guests didn’t care, our baby cared even less – all for my glory.

    I’m convicted. It’s time to go back to simply loving our baby boy, and letting him enjoy life, and the world God created for him to explore.

    Ah, again, thanks for sharing!

  2. Mim says:

    <3!!! Yes I too have done the attempt at a pinterest-worthy party. It was fun, but way too much stress and never as good as what you hope for. I've gone back to a simple round cake with simple icing and a pretty sprig of flowers as decoration. No one seems to mind ;)
    Thanks for sharing this fabulous post.

  3. Kristi says:

    This was such a relief to read! Thanks for sharing. Now I can stop feeling guilty for not lavishing my kids in certain ways, but can now give myself a little pat on the back to say, “good job being a mom”. :)
    Just read “Little House in the Big Woods” by Laura Ingles Wilder to get a good perspective oh how kids can pass their time and have a wonderful childhood all without the worldliness. I love how simply, but how hard they lived in those days. So funny to me how they were so excited when their Pa slaughtered the pig for the year, because it meant they got to use the bladder for a ball, once they blew it up with air and tied a string to seal it. lol! So many examples of them playing in the attic with their only cornhusk doll and the like.
    I read the comments on the page the article came from, and one woman described how her two grown sons are so self absorbed from their experience growing up in the school system, because the school would give reward certificates for good behavior or anything good they did that they expect praise for everything rather than just doing good for the sake of doing good, the right thing. She said how they never ask how she and her husband are doing but rather talk only about their own lives.
    If we cater to much to our kids they become self absorbed. My kids sure do, so do I!!! Good lesson for me to practice not needing entertainment all the time too.

    • Kristi,

      I wasn’t quite as deprived as the Ingall children growing up, but pig-slaughtering day was a pretty big deal on the farm! Anatomy AND blowing up the bladder. I think we rob our children of the simple joys of life when we bombard them so much “fun.”

  4. 6 arrows says:

    I enjoyed this article. It brought back great memories of how my siblings and I learned to make our own fun — playing house in the barn when the cows were out in the pasture (okay, just my sisters and me, not our brother!), playing tackle football in our front yard with neighbor kids, boys and girls alike, when we were something like 10-13 years old. Things like that. We never had any “kid” parties; birthdays, if they were celebrated with anyone outside the immediate family, were whole-family events — adults and children together. We hardly ever had those either, though. We took two family vacations in my childhood, and the first one, my two youngest siblings didn’t get to go because our parents felt they were too young.

    We weren’t deprived AT ALL! Creativity abounded, and it’s what my husband and I have wanted for our kids — plenty of time for creative play. He’ll bring home large boxes from his workplace from time to time, and cut windows and doors in them with a box cutter so the younger children can play in them or with them. Down in our basement we have a house, a garage and a lean-to. ;-) Four long strips of green masking tape on the floor mark out places to park three vehicles. Upstairs is a box, open end down, with an “oven door” cut in the front, and “burners” drawn on the top. When it’s time to cook a real meal, if we can’t find a specific pot or pan or something that we need, we sometimes find it over on the other “stove”. :-)

    Life is better when life is simpler.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Oh that poor child: “handle it”? Ugh. We didn’t have a millionaire kids’ childhood, but boy it was magical, and a lot came from the neighborhood, my sisters and friends, books, and my own imagination. What we did have as extracurricular fun was awesome too: Chucky Cheese, Miracle Strip (will always bless the Lord’s Name for that) and the two trips to Disney World (right, just two). Those enhance a child’s already rich mind till it just about bursts. But of course we couldn’t always afford that, and the magic of more ordinary places and trips with family were priceless; the gorgeous time spent at Callaway Gardens just twice in my childhood and the many more times in NC, where we spent time in a small house, a canoe in the lake, a gorgeous church on Sunday and the community pool (plus any extra outings). It was more than enough; it made my childhood a dream.

  6. Mrs. S says:

    Thanks for sharing! I have to keep life very simple or I get overwhelmed so I already live “old school” but sometimes feel a little bad when I attend parties that were fancier/more expensive. I know this is dumb, but almost a feeling like I don’t love my kids as as much to put all this time/money/STRESS. My kids’ parties are usually ice cream and running around outside with their friends and cousins. (But I don’t think it’s wrong to have a nice party if that is your thing!)

    I just seems like social media has upped the ante since everything everyone one does can be publicly displayed now. Plus with all the good ideas so easily accessible I feel like maybe I need to do them. This is why it is so important to focus on Jesus and his plan for our particular family and building relationships.

    I know when I was growing up I just wanted to explore outside and have my mom be kind to me.

  7. Kelly L says:

    Agreed. I used to plan big parties with activities until she was 3. I noticed my dumb activities were interrupting their play.

    We do lots of vacations because the opportunity presents itself cheaply for us. But she does remember it all. However, if we couldn’t afford it, we wouldn’t do it. It does enrich her life to see the places she reads about. However, I don’t think it is detrimental to not see all those places.

    Our most important job, whether our kids have a lot more or a lot less than others, is to instill in them a grateful heart that seeks to glorify The Lord and be available to Him when He asks us to do something, even in the middle of trips or a busy day at home.

  8. victoria says:

    Let me share an observation from the other side of things. Two of my homeschooled sons are graduated and now in the workforce. They weren’t provided with a materialistic childhood because we are a one-income family. Interestingly, both of them have done very well in their careers. The oldest is the head of his department at an international firm and he’s in his 20′s. The other executives there are old enough to be his father. He and my husband, who is also in management at his company, both complain of having difficulty finding starting-level employees because so many of these young people grew up thinking everything is owed to them and they don’t have to work for anything. They are finding out the hard way that life isn’t like that and for many of them, they will have a lifetime of difficulty succeeding at anything because of their over-indulged childhood.
    Something to think about – less is often more.

    • 6 arrows says:

      Victoria,

      This is so true. My husband and two adult children, who have all been in leadership positions in the companies they work for, have observed the same entitlement attitude in many of the young people who have worked under them. My 20-year-old daughter, who served as head cashier and front-end manager at one of her prior workplaces before she moved out of the area this weekend, had young employees who were nothing but lazy and whining tattletales.

      It was not just in her department, either. There was a head of another department who had a huge problem with “workers” who didn’t work, a high employee turnover rate, etc., and he or she, I don’t remember which, asked my daughter what she felt was the problem with so many of these young people. My daughter’s answer was that, among other things, she felt so many of these kids didn’t really have to work hard to keep a job because they didn’t really need the money. They knew Mom and Dad would bail them out with money they didn’t earn. They had no incentive to work — they didn’t have to pay for their education, or their toys. They’d stay with a job as long as it was fun, but would quit (or get fired) when they were expected to exert more effort. They had no goals beyond having fun, no drive to work hard for someone else’s benefit, or even for their own long-term benefit.

      The easy life, where virtually everything is given to children or done for them, greatly handicaps them for future service. I agree with you — less is often indeed more.

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