March 31, 2008

Parenting Ammunition for My Brother

My brother and his wife's first child is quickly approaching her first birthday and thus they are anticipating the inevitable onslaught of birthday gifts from well meaning family, friends and loved ones.  However, they have, in general, some fairly different parenting philosophies than most of the aforementioned well wishers and are thus forced to try and navigate the treacherous waters of communicating their preferences without the gift bearer woefully misinterpreting that preference as "we can not accept the way you love our daughter."  Dicey.  Very dicey.  So, this post and pointer over at Kottke is right up their alley, if you hurry you may be able to order copies of the book and get them shipped before everyone buys their presents.  Or, in the case of my brother, he may just prefer to cite this passage on everyone's voicemail as it is pretty much verbatim his own toy mantra:
When you think back to the '60s and '70s, all the right-thinking progressive parents thought toys should be natural and open-ended. Crayola and Kinder Blocks and Lego were considered raise-your-kid-smart toys. Then, all this data that came out which said that kids need to be stimulated. They need sound! They need multi-sensory experiences! Now, the more bells and whistles a toy has, the supposedly better it is.

Our parents' generation actually had it right. The less the toy does, the better. Everyone thinks: "Toys need to be interactive." No, toys don't need to be interactive. Children need to interact with toys. The best toys are 90 percent kid, 10 percent toy, the kind of thing that you can use 20 different ways, not because it has 20 different buttons to press, but because the kid, when they're 6 months old is going to chew on it, and toss it, but when they're a year they're going to start stacking it.

FYI - I will be getting my niece a nice hardwood stick, about 3 1/2 - 4 feet in length, very smooth, and almost rounded because, while she may still be a bit young, for most of our childhood such bats, swords, bows, rifles, lightsabers, staffs, magic wands were the greatest toys we ever had. 


Pomeroy Kinsey said...

My 6-year-old spends hours in his room with a tiny stuffed cat which appears to be a kind of mystical totem which enables to kill many people, large and small. I tend to agree with your quote.

Jennifer said...

Said niece's current favorite toys are: a. a big wooden spoon that she stole right out of my hand when I was cooking, b. stackable plastic cups, c. a carton of plastic eggs that come apart, roll around on the floor, and give the kitty hours of chasing enjoyment. The bat/light saber/sword will no doubt be a welcome addition to her arsenal.

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