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What Have We Created?

What Have We Created?

I dig Michael Pollan. He is the food dude who changed my life and the way I feed my kids. If you don’t know who he is, google him. When you get a chance, pick up or download a copy of “Food Inc.”  just don’t eat twelve hours before viewing. That’s some free medical advice from Nannyde. Take it!

I love all of his work. He’s an excellent writer, he’s clever, down to earth and he’s cute… which doesn’t hurt my feelings one bit. The thing I like most is how he is able to take a complex problem like food these days and break it down into really simple principles. He’s a master in getting down to the bones of things and leaving his viewers and readers with simple truths to guide them through the wild, wild west of our current food system.

Omnivore – Michael Pollan

One of his rules of thumb of healthy eating is: “Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” One of his specialties is his vast knowledge of the history of food. He answers the questions of “how did we get here?”

I was thinking about this for the last few days as I read posts on and other daycare forums about how providers are caring for kids with serious behavior issues. It’s become so commonplace that many providers feel they can’t operate and have a successful business if they don’t accept children who are disobedient, rude, and even violent.

Some how, some way over the last generation we have normalized bad behavior in kids. It’s like walking down the food aisle and looking from side to side at what’s on the shelf and believing the processed corn syrup products are real food. We are trudging along the path of raising kids thinking this IS child care.

I started caring for kids in the late seventies and it wasn’t like this then. In the thirty years I have cared for kids what is “normal” and “acceptable” would have been seen only in a  small percentage of kids that came your way.

I think the shift happened in the mid- to late-nineties. I started caring for kids in my home in the early nineties and within six/seven years I started realizing that it was too hard to take kids in that were over the age of four. They came with so many issues.  Even with really good structure and discipline they would consume my time to the point where they became what I did all day long.

As time went on the age of the kids I would take became younger and younger. Within a few years that age dropped to where I only considered families that had infants or preferably newborns.

I attributed it at the time to my getting older and being able to improve my business by bringing in families that could stay as much as five years before going off to Kindergarten. I didn’t realize at the time that I was in the front row of a cultural change where the balance of power switched from adults leading the kids to the kids leading the adults. Now “infant/child led” is the norm and frankly kids have no business leading anything.

Today is the day when providers across America and Canada are sitting on their couch across from potential new clients during interviews and having the parent of a two year old tell them that they don’t use the word “no” with their child. Apparently there is a way to say no without really saying no. It has something to do with explanation, discussion, negotiation, and feelings.

NO!  NO!

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to spend ten minutes saying no. “No” gained it’s popularity in the English language because it’s short and to the point.

This new child-rearing technique isn’t an aberration. It’s being taught in some fashion in child-care courses all across America. It’s in “raise your baby books” and parenting articles. It’s deeply rooted in techniques like “a minute of time out” for the age of the child.  Maybe the parent or expert doesn’t exactly say “no no” but the end result is the same. When they tell you they don’t want any consequences but just rewards for “good behavior”, that’s the same thing as saying do not tell the child no. When they tell you that two minutes will solve a two-year old’s poor behavior they are telling you not to tell the kid no.

Aunt Janet

I think Michael’s idea of seeking the wisdom from the generations before us is a really good place to start. I can’t channel my great-great grandma but I can call my Aunt Janet. The best people to ask how to raise good kids are the ones who have raised good kids. I had a great conversation with her last night about “kids these days” and she has a perspective that I haven’t thought of before. The older I get the more I respect my elders.

She was the tenth child of eleven in my Father’s family. Her Mother, my Grandma Susie, was in the restaurant business when Aunt Janet became a mother at eighteen. She had older sisters and brothers who had small children but she was pretty much on her own at home with the kids while my Uncle Ward worked.

She didn’t have the luxury of “me” time or turfing the kids over to Grandma’s for the weekend. She took care of her four children by herself most days every day.

I asked her how she learned to be a parent. She didn’t have the life experience her olders sisters had of helping raise the younger siblings. My Dad was her only younger sibling. Two years age difference wasn’t enough to school her in the ways of dealing with a pack of kids under the age of five.

She told me that my Grandma died when she was just 21 and her siblings were off and away with their own lives with their small kids.

She said when her Mom passed away, that she turned to her church. It was  important to her to join a small church. The small church was a small society of accountability. If your kid acted up in church, then everybody would know about it because nearly everybody you knew besides your family and neighbors were at your church.

In those days they were reliant upon each other to help with each others kids when they found work. She cared for her friends’ kids when they worked and her friends helped her care for her kids when she worked. Pretty much everywhere she went the people surrounding her had a stake in the behavior of her children. Her family, church family, and friends expected good behavior because surely they would be the recipient of the bad behavior if it was allowed.

We don’t have that anymore. Just like the food”system”, childhood behavior has been outsourced to specialist, doctors, educators, and researchers with no real connection to the people who are on the ground caring for the kids day in and day out and the people who have succesfully raised good kids.

The advice to never say “no” to a child because it might hurt their little self -esteem didn’t come from the church ladies at my Aunts small church and I promise it didn’t come from a child-care provider. It came from someone who is selling something not from someone doing the hard work of raising kids.

It’s time for us to “go back to the land” in food and child rearing. We need to learn from those before us.  We need to endorse behavior in small children that great-grandma would appreciate and recognize.  We are only one generation into this and it’s time someone stood up to say it’s not working. I hope to use this blog as a way to get people thinking and talking about these types of issues, and provides readers with some “old school” child care advice and practical methods.

Keep checking in and hey… give your Aunt Janet a call. She’s a great place to start.

  1. Michael Castello03-08-11

    Good article. I like where you are coming from. There are so many titles this article could have had. “Just Say No”, “It Takes A Village Family”, “Grandma Knows Best”, “We are What We Eat”, “What We’ve Created Are Little Monsters” …and so on. We seem, these days, to have a problem with offending anyone including children. Discipline is needed especially from the parents. Many seem to have abdicated their parental responsibility in trying to be “friends” with their children. These are the days when white is black, right-side up is upside-down. Chaos seems to rule the day.

  2. dEHmom03-09-11

    GREAT article Nannyde!

    Thank you for your wisdom and I wish you all the best for your blog!


  3. Megan Elford03-09-11

    I love reading your thoughts, Nannyde! Can’t wait to see more!

  4. pinkbunny8503-09-11

    I love the article. I really can’t wait to read more, i’m always intrigued by everything you write.

    one thing I remember when one of my cousins was learning to crawl. he started crawling up the stairs and I told him no. belie mother said “we don’t use the word no around him.” my thoughts were who doesn’t use no. I was 9 at the time and that was 18 years ago.

  5. CatHerder03-09-11

    Wonderful article!!! Insightful as ever. I am going to watch Food inc. this weekend. I have taken your word on it too long, I guess, time to bite the bullet.

    I have to admit I have four generations of Women at my table a couple times a month and, at times, had to really work to find foods that were not processed or “frankenfood”.

    You have turned the diets around in our house this past year for sure! Even the daycare parents are catching on!!

    Thanks, Nannyde

  6. Daycare03-10-11

    What great reading. When’s the book coming out?

  7. MommyMuffin03-10-11

    I really enjoyed this. Not having much of a childcare background and just starting my daycare this past year it was my first instinct to use the word “no”.
    Then as I tried to research parenting and child care I became confused with all the “saying no without saying “no”.”
    I feel more sure of saying “no” to my children and daycare children(nannyde) and my own grandmother(Virginia) see nothing wrong with the word NO!. Great article.

  8. MommyOfThing1&203-10-11

    How do I get my daycare kids to eat the healthy foods?

  9. StrictMom04-28-11

    I have always appreciated the wisdom of successful parents. Parents whose kids are in college and successful. It usually does all come back to having a loving but disciplined home. And letting children know their place is not as the head of the household. I am the head and I am the boss. No questions, discussions period. What I do and say is for the best not just to be mean or annoying. Once kids know that, they trust their parents. Old school parenting is back!! I’m a part of the old school revolution.

  10. Beth09-29-11

    I’ve been trying to make this point for a long time (I’m 30 with a 9yr old & 4yr old)
    This was going on when I was a child too.. We’re more than one generation in, unfortunately.

    I believe the issue surrounding this is identical to societies issue as well.
    Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
    Silence is as bad as the act which merited your voice.
    Don’t be affraid to hurt someones feelings, you may be teaching them a priceless life lesson.

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