Does Kid-friendly = Dumbing Down?

How do you talk to a baby? How about a child? Do you talk down to them? Something to think about, isn’t it? Because I don’t think I’m the only one who hates being talked down to. So why is it okay to speak in googoos & gagas or in the highest register of your voice while in the company of the younger set? I realize that to many, it may be an unconscious thing.

I’m sure I’ve done it. In fact, I know I do it when I see a baby for the first time. How can you help it? Newborns are so mushy & adorably sweet! But I didn’t do the baby-talk thing with my own kids. The one, well, I don’t know if you could call it downfall, but my oldest especially had a preference for people who didn’t use the high-pitched baby voice. People would talk to her like that, and she would immediately scream bloody murder. My oldest would go right to her Grandfathers instead of Nana & Gram, and even some Aunts because most men used their natural speaking voices when they would see her. Like we did at home. Sure we sang to her, but we didn’t talk to her in sing-song voices. It broke the grandmothers hearts… but I secretly hoped it taught them a little lesson. 
I do wonder why we feel we should talk to babies like that. I mean, it is sort of an instinctual, yet unconscious thing that mainly women do. But occasionally, it does come off as a bit condescending. I personally don’t think we give our children enough credit. It starts with the baby talk, then you turn to the “baby-friendly” music, like those rock lullaby albums featuring the likes of Radiohead, U2, Weezer, Metallica, etc. What’s wrong with exposing your children to the actual albums? Is this No Child Left Behind the Music? To me, bands like Radiohead & U2 create albums for all ages. Why do we feel this need to dumb down music too?! My kids LOVED rocking out when they were babies, and they still do! Green Day: American Idiot was our savior on long road trips. Many times, it was the only way my first born would go from screaming to smiles in the car for a long time. Yes, there’s plenty of swearing, but ya know what? They are words. If you don’t make a big deal about it, neither will they. 
I also feel very strongly about not dumbing down my language with my kids. No, I don’t mean I swear around them, although, let’s face it, shit just happens sometimes. I just mean I don’t simplify my words. Sure, I love hearing my kids’ versions of bigger words like gogina! Hey, I’m not gonna stomp all over my kids when they are ambitiously using big words in their own adorable style. They are kids after-all! The hubs used to make fun of me for using a broader vocabulary, but the fact is, I do actually know what I’m saying when I use big words. Yes, my kids may ask what words like intelligent and procrastinate are. I find those moments to be excellent learning and discussion opportunities for both me & my children. First of all, it makes me think about what words I use before I spit them out. Not always my strong suit. So I have to think about what I’m saying, and figure out how the hell I’ll to describe the definition, another challenge for me. But usually I can relate it to something that’s happening in our lives. 
Look, we all love our kids, and smaller versions of many things can be fun. I just think the kid-friendly thing has gotten a little overboard. Kid-friendly restaurants = YES, PLEASE! Kid-friendly talk… your kid is 11, he doesn’t need to go pee-pee on the potty anymore! Kid friendly music = snoozefest. Kid-friendly museums = awesome, but try taking them to your local art museum sometime too! Give your kids a little credit. I think we need to stop and think about what kind of future we’re creating by dumbing down some of the aspects of life, some of which help us to be our creative best. 
Image courtesy of Guinness

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    Kelli Williams

    Kelli Williams

    Keeping up with 2 little girls, writing assignments, music gigs, the house, laundry, ETC, backwards, wearing ass kicking boots and a smile, without spilling my beer. Ok, ok, so I spill my beer, but my floors have never been more germ-free since I started putting a little alcohol on them. Who needs ammonia...

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