Thursday, May 31, 2012

Space and Sharing

My post, Attachment Parenting, left me going down memory lane a bit.  I realized, as I looked back, that our early decisions to practice attachment parenting extended to many more intentional decisions even as our kids started to grow up.  Shared space in the form of a sling or a bed turned into a shared bedroom, shared toys, one family computer, and one television.  Interestingly enough, these very simple choices sometimes felt just as counter cultural as having a home birth.

For Christmas one year we made the earth shattering decision  to purchase a Game Boy for the boys.  It felt like a life changing moment for our family.  Choosing to buy only one and have both boys share it was our way of keeping our little team in balance.  I remember the day after Christmas when they told their friends what they had gotten.  I felt a twinge of guilt for not giving them each their own and then I heard my son say, "It's ok, cuz I'm good at the jumps and he's good at finding the treasures.  So we are going fast through the levels."

Pokemon and Game Boy of the past.
Pokemon and Game Boy of the past. (Photo credit: heath_bar)
Those stupid video games had them going to the store and negotiating which new game they would purchase, returning to trade old, conquered ones for a new challenge.  They needed to come to consensus on each acquisition or spend 100% of their own money on a game that they could only play when the other person was otherwise occupied. Even with our imposed limits they managed to be obsessed by the images on the four inch screen.  We were far from Amish and yet I still felt like I was out of the normal range of accepted U.S. parenting practices.  I felt out of sync because I was resisting the consumption driven culture.  How dare I not purchase as much as possible for my children.  How dare I make them wait for the latest game until they could buy it for themselves or find it used or for trade, 6 months later.

We bought the Game Boy because we wanted to do something special for our children. We wanted to indulge one of their kiddie desires. We minimized how much it could control our lives by insisting that our sons shared it and by limiting when they could use it - 10 hour car rides to South Dakota -YES!; parties at friends' homes - NO!  We aren't carrying them in a sling anymore but we are still trying to find ways that we can share space and stuff as a family.

It changes over time but there is always something, at every developmental age, that ends up forcing us to decide what is right for our family.  Now, there are nights when we are all within 10 feet of each other but on a different screen -, tv, computer, ipod.  I'm grateful that we decided to have the screens only on the first level of our house and I'm grateful that we have one tv that requires us to negotiate/talk/argue. Now that we have teenagers it feels like we are starting to reap the benefits of our families' counter cultural revolution.  I'm glad that we are still attached and sharing space.
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  1. Spot on! One TV, one bedroom for two boys, no video games except lego website and angry birds. If that's counterculture then I'll happily stay on the fringe. Think of the negotiating and cooperation skills they are learning. It's boys get lonely and have a hard time sleeping if one is alone in their room. Attachment brothering perhaps?

  2. I like that term, attachment brothering. I have often felt that while it can be terribly annoying, forcing them to share space and stuff has helped them develop great skills. One has definitely figured out how to verbally express his feelings better and the other has learned how to stand up to physical and verbal bullying. If they were able to retreat to separate spaces with their own stuff, I don't think it would have happened.