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Back Forty: Children need their parents, not videos, CDs
The Back Forty
By Roger Pond

The modern-day rat race has spawned some funny ideas about child rearing. We have gone from the days when a child started school at six, to the present - when kids are supposed to be fully educated by the time they are five.

We take them to playschool, preschool, summer school, and kindergarten so they will be able to color a rabbit just as fast as the next kid. Then, these children are supposed to enter first grade with more social skills than I had when I left home for college. (Not a good example, probably.)

A recent news report says many parents are so concerned about their baby’s mental and social development they are rushing to buy educational videos, compact discs, and flash cards. This is supposed to make sure the toddler doesn’t fall behind other two-year-olds who might have computers, VCRs, and televisions to spur them on.

The Baby Einstein Company in Littleton, Colo., for example, sells “Baby Einstein,” “Baby Mozart,” and “Baby Shakespeare” videos, books, and flashcards. Parents buy these to enlighten their toddlers and discourage free thinkers who might rather chew on the dog’s tail.

Those of us who would prefer “Baby Bass Pro” or “Baby Quail Hunter” videos will have to wait until someone recognizes the market for mind benders such as these.

Child development experts are quick to point out these attempts to influence a toddler’s intelligence are basically worthless. Children don’t need videos, CDs, and flash cards. They need their parents.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone. The days when “quality time” was a frequent excuse for ignoring the kids are not that far behind us. So now we have parents with plenty of money to buy videos, CDs, etc. But these parents are so busy working, they have very little time to play with the kids.

Why is everyone so busy working? Because we need the money to buy CD’s, videos, etc.

I’m reminded of a conversation my wife and I had with a young mother at the grocery a few years ago. This young lady had a baby we’ll call “Allan.”

She recently changed jobs and was commenting on how much better her new job was than the old one. “I get home at five, instead of six like I did before, and that gives me more time to spend with Allan,” she said.

“I really appreciate that. I just hate being away from him during the day.”

Then, this young lady straps Allan into a big, fancy pickup and drives away. I turned to my wife and said, “You know, if that girl didn’t have a $30,000 truck she could probably spend all day with Allan.”

“That’s just what I was thinking,” my wife said.

Published in the January 25, 2006 issue of Farm World.