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16 December 2008

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4ddintx

I agree. My oldest two dd's both have bb guns and dh just bought a real gun for them to start practicing with (very carefully, lots of supervision!). I'm teaching them both to use my sewing machine, and all of my kitchen appliances, as well.

I know my Mom wouldn't buy any of us an EZ bake oven because she let us use the real oven (though we kind of wanted a cute little cake made by a light bulb anyway). Now I'm doing the same thing.

Tabitha

SteveG

Absolutely agree. We infantilize our kids so much in this culture that I think it leads to a lack of maturity when they are adolescents.

Last year, I let me nearly 7 year old start mowing the lawn (lots of supervision of course). He loved it! It empowered him, and made him feel an important part of the family.

What was funny was when one of his friends (who is a couple years older) started 'lecturing' me that he was too young to be doing that and that his parents would never allow him to touch the mower.

Between this kind of stuff, and homeschooling we seem to cause a lot of trouble for the other parents in the neighborhood ('why can't you homeschool me' they ask, 'why can't I use the mower', etc.) :-D

bearing

SteveG, is it a power mower or a reel mower (you know, the old-fashioned push kind)

I admit I probably wouldn't want my kids to use a gas- or electric-powered mower, but we love our reel mower (our yard is quite manageably small) and my 8yo can handle it really well. The 5yo is not quite strong enough to push it fast enough to cut the grass.

My oldest got quite proficient at things like cutting with a sharp knife, drilling with a hand drill, and handling hot objects with potholders. I regret that my younger children haven't had quite as much experience with real tools as he, mostly because (being busier, or at least feeling busier) I haven't taken the time to supervise and model the proper use of the tools.

My friend Melissa told me of organizing a book club for girls around 9-12 years old, planning to make fruit salad with them as part of the activity, and being shocked when her own daughter was the only one who was ever allowed to touch sharp knives.

SteveG

It's a power mower (the yard is a bit to big for the push mower to be feasible.

We do have lots of safety rules in place though... he must wear safety glasses, must wear hard shoes (no flip flops), he can only do the flat parts (most of the yard is flat), and I stand within a few feet of him at all times. The mower also has an automatic cut off switch that turns it off if you aren't actively engaging it.

He knows that it's not a game and that violation of any rules, or joking around with the mower, will automatically cause suspension of using it.

He just really 'loves' doing it. He's been 'helping' me push it since he was a toddler (I carried him in a sling while mowing then he walked with me while holding on when a bit older), and he's been begging me to try for two years. I was skeptical at first how it'd go, but I was surprised at how responsible he was when I gave him the chance.

It's caused us to give him a lot more chances at other things that would normally be considered 'dangerous' (like using tools, or knives as you mention, even matches). We've always been pleasantly surprised at how well he's handled it, and I've definitely seen an increasing maturity level over that time span.

9-12 year olds unable to touch a sharp knife! Wow, talk about coddling.

My basic thinking here is that throughout history, children at a very young age were (by necessity) contributing to the very survival of the family, and were expected to contribute to the good of the family.

I wanted to emulate some of that not to 'toughen' them up, but rather to make them feel that they are an important contributor to the family, and that their efforts are part of what makes the family life work.

I also agree that it's been more challenging to find those same opportunities for the younger kids, but after seeing how it's helped Mark, we are more actively trying to make it happen for them as well.

Christy P

I remember that one of my favorite activities at preschool (in a church basement) was pounding nails. They had some easels into which we could pound actual nails. Some pounded fingers resulted, but I think that the easels had a pretty soft wood so that you didn't have to bash super hard and even a 4 year old could successfully drive a nail and then pry it out and do it again. This wasn't a totally free-wheeling place though - we were only allowed to use one roller skate at a time! They were the kind that clipped on to your shoes, and you had to scooter along. Maybe that was just because there weren't enough skates for everyone at the same time.

Kelly

Why would a 9 year old be able to handle a sharp knife when I still see 5-7 year olds drinking out of sippy cups? And not allowed to eat off of "real" plates, but relegated to the plastic kind.

Sure, my toddler has broken a few plates and saucers by chucking them up into the sink, but they're only a quarter at the thrift store.

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