extremist parentDear Extremist Parent,

Extremism results in potent toxicity. It is birthed out of fear, not optimism. So like Yoda said, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” So it goes without saying that being an extremist parent is no different.

In 2014, when the extremist parents out there complained about the Breaking Bad action figure toys and petitioned to have them taken off of Toys R Us’ shelves, I’ve been thinking long and hard (yes, I said, “long and hard,” so get that chuckle out now) about how ignorant we parents become when we put too much of our own youth, and everything we experienced and learned through it, behind us and take on parenting as if it’s a new start and either forget everything that came before us or hold it against our children.

We act like parenting is our job, instead of viewing it as the lifetime endeavor that it actually is. When it comes to what we’re putting in our children’s hands there are far more dangerous, and ever increasingly worse, items than some stupid, plastic action figures. Yet we don’t see it because we’re too focused on making noise about things that won’t actually harm our kids.

This may be just some crazy and radical idea, but maybe we should instead make differences that will not only protect and strengthen our kids but allow them to make wise decisions ON THEIR OWN when we’re not there to puppet master over them eventually.

To clarify, this article is not a whole rigmarole trying to convince parents to take things out of the hands of their children (well not completely) but instead it’s to illuminate how nothing is more dangerous, and that includes insignificant things like toys, than taking our eyes off of what our kids in fact do have access to.  

So there is only one true solution, which I’ll share here in a bit, but first let’s touch on a few items that are far more dangerous than Breaking Bad toys yet no one is petitioning these and are instead furnishing them to children who may be too young or immature to make wise decisions on their own.

Phones, Computers, and Tablets

extremist parent

As a kid, when my mom wasn’t home, I wasn’t allowed to answer the phone in case it was a predator trying to find out if she wasn’t indeed home.  Now, in 2015, parents are putting devices in the hands of kids who can connect through the form of texts, apps, calls, emails, videos, pictures, websites, social media, name it, to people like, oh I don’t know, strangers, drug dealers, bullies, predators, and assholes.  These types of influencers are so prevalent, and have so much power, that kids are killing themselves over such correspondences at what seems like an alarming rate.

We should also not fool ourselves into thinking we can completely censor what they have access to. Apps are coming out nearly every day, so even if we think we know the apps that they shouldn’t be getting on, good luck keeping up with technology (something that is known for being faster and smarter than us) because they will be on a new one tomorrow, heck maybe even tonight. Fooling ourselves that we’re a step ahead of them is our first mistake as a parent.

Television

kids and television

I can give you three specific occasions when my mom tried to limit my television viewing yet I was able to get around it.  One time was when she put a timer on the living room television that would only allot me a specific amount of viewing minutes yet I was able to figure out that if I unplugged the TV from the timer that was plugged into the wall, I could then plug the TV into the other outlet and it wouldn’t use up my time.

The second occasion was when she didn’t want me watching Saturday Night Live at a young age, for both staying up late purposes and because it wasn’t “appropriate” for me, but I had an old black and white television in my room for the Atari (the color TV was for NES) so I would act like I was going to bed and I’d use tinfoil as an antenna and utilize the headphone jack so I could listen without her hearing.  

The last example was that if you wanted to see tits and ass on TV it was late night HBO so I used to steal the converters off of neighbors’ boxes and hook it up to watch when she went to sleep.  

So what’s the point?  Kids will find a way to outsmart you or at least go down trying. Hell, all of our devices have things like HBO GO and if they get a login from a friend they don’t need you to order and monitor it.

Books/Magazines

kid magazines

I was a boy. I knew how to hide a Playboy.  ‘Nuff said.

Family Members and Strangers

stranger danger

I’m not beating around the bush on this one, child molestation is extremely prevalent and 89% of cases involve persons known to the child, such as a caretaker, family, or family acquaintance. Here’s the saving grace, 95% of child molestation can be prevented. But if we spend all our time worrying about the things that don’t matter, we’re going to miss the things that do like this very big, glaring problem.

The Solution

So what’s the one true solution?  Sculpting our kids into who they were meant to be before the world gets a hold of them.  All of these material possessions are clouding the real solutions that are:

1) Instill into our children that they’re cared about and that we love them more than anything else in this world.
2) Make time to volunteer with them, to care for others (in the same way you care for them) who aren’t as fortunate as we are.
3) Be a role model who shows how they are worth being protected because they can, and will, if they so decide to, make a difference in this world.
4) Demonstrate REAL trust without breaching it because it’s so much easier to break than it is to build.
5) For Pete’s sake, stop trying to pick fights over stupid things like what toys should be on the shelves of a TOY STORE. Which, by the way, is not categorized as a kid store. It’s a TOY STORE where even there I am, at thirty-six years old, a Toys R Us kid.

If we do these simple solutions we can save time bringing toys down from off the shelves and spend time building our kids up to better themselves.