Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Who is the Enemy?

“Education is teaching our children to find pleasure in the right things.” -Plato

Of all the psychologists I’ve studied, Mary Pipher is my favorite. She’s well aware of the plight of parenting in today’s world where there is a shrinking universe of adults who pitch in to nurture children and teenagers.

Mary Pipher argues that with her grandparent's generation, life was much simpler. The choices they had available to them were limited. As farmers, in the early 1900's they knew who the enemy was: blizzards, and locusts and low cattle prices.

Today, we don't always know who the enemy is! We have unlimited choices available to us but instead of broadening our horizons, the choices can often destroy us!

Parenting today is very different and much more complex than parents who raised children in the 1950’s. Then, the main job of parents was to introduce children to culture but today parents need to be cautious to protect their kids from culture that can be toxic. With today’s avalanche of information, a big part of parenting is simply helping children sort through and make sense of what is most important and what your own family values.

I’ve read every book Mary Pipher has published and I think her advice to parents is some of the best anywhere! She advocates choosing our books wisely which really applies beyond just reading. The advice to choose books, music, TV, and movies carefully is good counsel for all of us, not simply the youth. Clearly, anything and everything we fill our minds with ultimately shapes who we become.

“Good parents are antidotes to advertising. They teach , ‘You are not the center of the universe.’ And they teach the meaning of ‘enough.’ Parents are the people who help children build meaning from all the complex information they are bombarded with daily.” -Mary Pipher