Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Don't let your children become addicted to excitement

Dennis Prager at Townhall.com makes the point that craving excitement is a bad thing,
If you want your children to be happy adults and even happy children -- and what parent does not? -- minimize the excitement in their lives. The more excitement, the less happy they are likely to be.
In both adults and children, one can either pursue excitement or pursue happiness, but one cannot do both. If you pursue excitement, you will not attain happiness. If you pursue happiness, you will still experience some moments of excitement, but you will attain happiness only if happiness, not excitement, is your goal.

So many of the best things in life are routine, and could be described initially as dull; eating meals together as a family, your children's nighttime prayers, the same flowers blooming in your summer garden, year after year, your mother's phone calls, the slow progress your children make in their studies, a bug discovered by your toddler in the backyard, the same vacation spot you always go to, and the same liturgy every Sunday, with the same Body of Christ you receive.
See what we would be missing if we look past the routine in mad pursuit of novelty?! Our Lord Himself, who chooses to come to us in the humble appearance of ordinary bread.
That's why advertisers are making commercials which change scenes every three seconds, and include special effects like things blowing up, magic cereal, and flying kids. Anything I have to offer as a homeschooling mother is pretty dull compared to this display.
As a high school English as a Second Language teacher, I remember my Principal saying, "you have to stimulate the students, and include the five senses in every lesson." Oh, really! This includes, of course, smell and taste, which I foolishly believed belonged to Home Economics.
So I designed a St. Patrick's Day lesson around the five senses. I made Irish soda bread and Irish tea (smell and taste) brought in my Aran sweater and linen tablecloth set with Irish Belleek china (which I let them touch with trepidation) and played Irish music, so that their ears wouldn't get too tired of listening to their teacher. There, I thought, all five senses stimulated, the Principal and administrators observing me will be impressed.
But alas, it was not enough! The Principal's comments were negative, and this was his suggestion for improving the lesson, "you should have danced the Irish jig". The Irish jig, a pregnant middle-aged teacher dancing (poorly) a jig for adolescents! The image was too nightmarish to be funny!
So, now that I realize I will never be an exciting teacher to anyone, I can relax, and simply help open up the universe of learning. My children, freed from the need to be constantly stimulated a can settle down, learn, and enjoy life. Our family can relax and be our ordinary selves, loving one another, day after day so predictably. I will try to cherish my 52nd dandelion bouquet from little hands as much as the first, and we will be happy. Happy to have comforting, dull routines which constantly ensure me how much I are loved.


Shosannah said...

Oh, this is so true .
Kids today seem to have become both overstimulated and desensitied. THe saddness of this is that they to often become unsatisfied with the pure, simple pleasures of life, like the ones you mentioned in your post. Often I think God's grace and abundance dwells most within those simplest of pleasures.

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

I love what you say here. Our happiest days are those when there is "nothing to do". Nothing to do but enjoy eachother, make up childish games, discover new ideas. If a child never has the opportunity to be "bored" he or she loses a chance to be creative.

Anonymous said...

The ordinary day is the best!

Anonymous said...

I think it is one thing to desire excitement and another to have parent who tries to give a child that excitement all the time. It is a moving target. That may be why the simple things in life are preferred when we actually think about it.

Timothy Fish - Author Searching for Mom

Jean Heimann said...

That principle's idea was totally ridiculous! You might have preschoolers or kindergarteners dancing an Irish jig FOR YOU, but YOU dancing a jig for adolescents is absurd!
Using sensory stimulation to help children learn is a good idea when children are younger or if they are handicapped, but you don't need to use those same techniques with adolescents of average intelligence.

As a retired teacher and psychologist, I agree with you on this, Leticia. Today's children need to slow down and become more reflective and analytic. How can they be creative if they are never given the time to pursue those pleasures? Children need time to develop their imaginations and use them. This is something you can't get out of a textbook or find on an electronic game.

Too much TV, too many electronic toys and computer games may be exciting, but this is not the path to true happiness. They need to spend time with their family and friends and explore the real world so they can enjoy the quiet beauty that surrounds them in nature and attain that inner peace that comes from developing a relationship with their Creator.

Thanks for this post! I enjoyed reading it.

God bless you!