Monday, April 25, 2016

Nature lesson

My three-and-a-half year old daughter and I were visiting family in Maine and went out to a park.  As we were talking, we came past these two, who were scrambling all around and making quite a lot of noise, and so of course we had to stop and watch and answer questions.

There's a book I've found very useful as a parent, recommended to me by my awesome aunt, called "Talk To Me First."  Its basic premise is that the cultural notion of "the talk" about sex, bodies, etc., is a bad idea, because kids have different questions and appropriate incremental levels of knowledge pretty much throughout their childhood and development.  The place where parents get into trouble, according to its view, is reacting too strongly based on their own relationship to these topics: either flinch away from encounters with these questions, putting them off for later, or else dive too deep and overwhelm their child; either reaction teaches a kid that this is a touchy and problematic subject that they probably shouldn't talk with their parents about.

I find this very helpful to think about, and it means we can notice the squirrels, I can simply explain to my daughter that no, they're not fighting, they're mating in order to make more squirrels, and we can go on about our day, incremental knowledge gained and another little bit of groundwork laid for dealing with much higher stakes topics later in childhood.