No one would think of exposing their kids to good manners on occasion, or good nutrition just once a month, but mine is far from the only family I know that tries to expose our kids to foreign languages, multicultural music, or fine art, yet somehow we expect these things to stick and become part of how our children relate to the world, nor are we the only folks I know trying to mitigate the effects of negative exposures when our kids live immersed in some less-than-ideal circumstances.
My kids are exposed to authoritarian parenting, but are immersed in what I hope is an AP-influenced authoritative-facilitation style. They are exposed to commercial values, swears, and violence, but they know that such behaviour and attitudes are NOT ok. They are exposed to racial, cultural and religious diversity, but not as much as I’d like. They are not exposed to other kids several times a week, but we’re working on it.
So yes, they get some negative exposures, and not just to artificial food-coloring. I’m not *really* worried about them though, since we both work to minimize them, and we talk to the kids about them afterward, so hopefully their influences are minimal. Likewise, we promote positive exposures, introducing ourselves on the playground to the few rainbow chips in our vanilla Vermont ice cream, bopping to Putamayo records and VPR’s All The Traditions, and letting them watch Dora and Kai-Lan until Daddyman and I have playlists of Nickelodeon earworms playing in our sleep. We do what we can with what can’t avoid or are able to enjoy encountering.
On the other side, my children are immersed in clutter, and exposed (rarely) to order. They are immersed in homebodiness, so that leaving the house for ANY reason is considered an adventure. They are immersed in relationships with adults that involve them asking for attention from parents who are looking at a computer before and after well over 50% of encounters. They are immersed in math, science, history and language, since Daddyman and I are regularly engrossed in such study, and share it with the kids. Their books are more numerous than their blocks (including wood, mega, duplo and now lego), and reflect a wide range of subjects, styles and cultural viewpoints. They view and interact with a wide range of commercial-free, high quality educational programming, on television, DVD and computer.
The negative immersions are more worrisome than the negative exposures, mainly because the ones that DO align with our values are so easy to take for granted, and the negative ones are insidious; always there in the background, seeping into their mental groundwater. That said, take an attachment style of parenting, add in the blocks, books, and computers, and time that it takes to really engage with them, including modeling their use for your kids (and maintaining one’s own sanity), along with enough nutritious meals to keep your kids on their growth curves and their minds soaring above them, and you have generated *precisely* those levels of clutter and parental detachment that I wish our kids were NOT immersed in!
Everything in moderation though. Our kids have seen a lot on television and computers; they need more first-hand knowledge about the natural world, and with our snow *almost* all melted, and baby brother big enough to come along this year, they are about to get a whole bunch of it. Our kids need to see us do more modeling of clearing our physical decks, and donating what we don’t need to Goodwill; good things will come from both. Heck, we can even listen to salsa music and talk about world religions while we box outgrown baby clothes!