One question we shouldn't be asking our kids

Jul 7, 2012

In Spoiled Rotten, a New Yorker review of recent books on childrearing, Elizabeth Kolbert explores why American kids seem to “rule the roost” while kids in the Peruvian Amazon (not unlike the kids in Vanuatu) figure out early on how to use a machete and pick up after themselves, and their families.

While I fit in with my fellow American parents in giving my children lots of space and piles of stuff, I’ve long fought the craziness of asking kids “Do you wanna …” for anything and everything.

Try this: over the next few days, when you are around families, listen to the parents and observe if they let their children decide everything.

“Do you want to wash your hands?”

“Do you wanna take a drink of your juice box?”

“Do you wanna have five more minutes to play in the sandbox?”

It seems to me that this one question is an important reason — or, at least, a good indicator for – why we have ceded parental authority, and childhood learning about rules and consequences and being part of community.

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Anton Zuiker

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