Friday, September 16, 2011

Living Simply with Children

   One of the first books I decided to read in my recent quest to becoming a better parent was Living Simply with Children: A voluntary simplicity guide for moms, dads, and kids who want to reclaim the bliss of childhood and the joy of parenting.  This book is as much an introduction to the concept of simple living as it is a parenting resource.  So, what is simple living?  The author, Marie Sherlock says, "Simple living begins when people become conscious of their values and live congruently with them, whatever they may be."  Sherlock interviewed many simple living families, and gave this list as some of the most common values of these families:

Compassion         Generosity           Respect for people and the earth      Responsibility
Love                    Understanding     Social justice
Charity                 Cooperation        Non-materialism
Family                  Peace                  Kindness
Tolerance             Diversity             Honesty

Topics that she discusses in this book include spending both quality and quantity time with your children, teaching your children money management, coping with peer pressure (both adult and child), caring for the earth, the effects of marketing and television on children, schooling options, and ways to make the holidays more meaningful.

She identifies the following as obstacles to simple living:

- Marketing aimed at kids and parents, indoctrinating them with the belief that happiness can be     purchased
- Age-innapropriate and violent media
- The peer pressure of a society that believes more is better
- Over-scheduling of children and adults
- Practices that harm the environment and, consequently, children's futures
- The commercialization of schools
- The sheer excess that has become the norm in America

I would say that the concept really at the heart of this book is living according to your own values rather than the values of the consumer culture.  Sherlock suggests that if you want to begin living simply, to have a family meeting where you brainstorm and come up with a list of values that is important to your family. Then, have another meeting where you figure out how to practice these values in your daily life.

This book is full of resources, which I am anxious to explore.  It recommends other books,magazines, and websites about simple living, simplifying the holidays, caring for the earth, and managing money, children's books that can help teach values, and organizations to look into for volunteering in your community.  I got a lot out of this book, I will discuss some the ideas in more detail in future posts, but I just wanted to give an overview of this book for anyone who is interested

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