Town Crier: Space, with limits, lets kids grow
by Yolande Barial
Sep 13, 2012 | 2762 views | 5 5 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When I was a young girl, my three siblings and I were not allowed to close the doors to our bedrooms. They were to remain open so that inspector mom could see what we were doing at all times.

As youngsters, we didn’t like that rule. We wanted our doors closed, because we wanted to play. My brothers played with cars, trains, Legos and built racetracks. My sister and I read books, wrote, talked and played with Barbie dolls.

Back in my day — forgive the old-woman phraseology — children were seen and not heard. Opinions were uttered in whispers to friends and siblings, but never to mother. Having the door closed in my house meant that we were not seen. To my mother and many others, privacy was not something children should ever be allowed to have.

As a seasoned mother of three, I do not begrudge my children their privacy and do allow them to close their doors. However, I am my mother’s child, so my rules are that doors can be closed but not locked, and that inspector mom (me), will simultaneously knock and open doors at my discretion. The exception to the closed-door policy is that when friends are over, all bets are off. Doors remain open.

I knocked and walked into my 10-year-old daughter’s room one evening, and she was lying on her bed with cucumber slices on her eyes, television on, ceiling fan blowing, smiling. I asked her what she was doing, and she replied that she was resting her eyes. I smiled and closed the door.

My 13-year-old son was next. The door was closed, and flickering colored lights bounced from the bottom of the door. I knocked, opened and asked what was he watching. Silence. I re-stated the question — perhaps I talked too fast, so I slowly enunciated, “What are you watching?” He responded in staccato voice “I am watching television.” I smiled while closing his door.

Upon opening my 17-year-old son’s door, there he sat; a bowl of ice cream, opened laptop, video game on the television with his phone in hand, texting — doing the ultimate in multitasking and doing absolutely nothing at the very same time. I asked him how could he listen, eat and talk all at once. He gave me a thumbs-up and said, “I got this, mom.” I smiled and closed the door.

Children are all different. Unique, special and fantastic — each should be nurtured to express their individuality and enjoy their own company. After homework, chores, practices and family time, having the ability to kick back and be in their own space contributes to the time needed to rejuvenate the body and the mind.

Children don’t play like we used to. Times have changed, and so much of their ability to pretend has been taken away. However, children learn to be free when we allow them some freedom — albeit with limits.

As they mature, grow and show responsibility, their boundaries should be allowed to expand. With gradual expansion, children become comfortable in their own skin, and this establishment of down-time/alone-time allows them a comfort zone to emerge from the inside out.

• Yolande Barial is a mother of three and a Tracy resident. Comment on this column by emailing
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September 15, 2012

I can truly picture the scenerio that you have described. You are lenient without being dismissive. I hope that your children appreciate what a great Mom you are.

September 14, 2012
Well, it seemed as if all the children were in company of the television. Now, is the viewing of television a good leisure for the rejuvenation of the mind and the body? I am sure this parent will say so. Yes, each generation of young people take on different "human kinds" to live by, but I will always be wary of young people and their parents who casually accept social standards they have poorly contemplated.

For our children, television viewing isn't experienced as a rejuvenating leisure. In fact, we experience television as a wasteland for cognitive zombies.

Yes, I realize the author's focus was on a child's privacy, but what good is a child's privacy if he is listening to gangster rap and watching porn.

Now, I am wondering whether Mom and Dad were in the family room watching television. This would have put 4 televisions on in this household at one time.

September 14, 2012
victor_jm you missed the point of the article by a mile. she was not talking about tv, rap or porn. before you comment negatively about an issue you need to learn how to comprehend what you are reading. the focus was about privacy and privacy only, and even though you stated that you knew what the authors focus was you still felt compelled to twist it into a negative... shame on you! this was a very well written, thoughtful & positive article.
September 14, 2012
wow, you sure made a lot of assumptions here mr victor. you have no idea what those children were watching and or listening to. i also saw no casualness that this author was portraying regarding her children watching tv.. oh wait that is not what this article was about!
September 15, 2012
Victor I thought the same thing, we have had one TV in our home for years we could have had more of them but that was the point.

We all watched together or they went to the bedrooms to do other things that did not put them into a zombie state.

Reading homework playing with their non battery toys listening to music.

Why it is called the boobtube

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