I enjoy Pinterest. I have an account. But I rarely check in. I like to pin stuff when I’m there, but I don’t ever intend to do anything. Ever. I have gotten some great recipes, and maybe tried one or two, but the other stuff? pfff…
I thought it was my punk-rock-slacker-underachiever attitude gone mad when I realized I never consult Pinterest while some others use it as their first source, their go-to. Not to mention I almost never have the money to do the things I see (even the “on-the-cheap” ones usually blow the budget). And let’s not even get to the time involved.
Well, after hearing so many friends who are parents using Pinterest as the go-to for parties (both kids and adult), school projects, homeschool lessons, decorating etc, particularly recently, I began to think, is there something seriously wrong with me that I don’t even think of Pinterest when my kid has a project or upcoming birthday or for any reason, at all, ever?
I put the question to two groups. First to my sons and next to my friends on facebook.
My sons had great responses (full disclosure, at some point they found out about Pinterest). From my six-year-old, “You let me decide how I want to do my stuff. You don’t tell me I have to do everything the way you want it. You helped me come up with ideas and then you let me choose and helped me.” And the four-year-old, “You’re fun because we just do stuff that’s fun and don’t worry if it’s pretty!”
My friends reassured me that I was not the only one who did not “default to Pinterest” and the most commonly cited reason for this was time. A few said they looked for ideas occasionally for specific things (ie ideas for a particular birthday theme) but left it alone by and large. And in discussion of this topic a few themes emerged for me.
1. Pinterest as a gateway to envy/greed/unbridled consumerism.
Pinterest itself is not evil. Nor is getting ideas from it. However, I had observed (as did a few others who shared) that it can easily turn into a modern-day case of “keeping up with the Joneses.” Particularly when it comes to parties and school projects. Everyone wants their child to make a good impression but often parents forget that it is the child’s impression to make, not our own. No one’s first grade science fair project should be a showcase of how much money a parent could spend and nor should it be aiming to look better than every other child’s project. The object of a child’s project is to help them learn and while parents should help to facilitate that learning, they should not commandeer a project much less attempt to make a social statement with it. Ones parenting is not judged by how far “above grade level” something is nor the monetary or social standing cost. Or, at least Christians should realize that truth.
2. Pinterest as a killer of imagination for kids.
When a child has an idea for a party or a school project, or just an activity they would like to pursue, the child should be the creative director. And by creative director, I mean choose the theme and come up with the best ideas of how to represent it and execute as much of it themselves as they can. Obviously an infant can’t execute as much as a 12 year old can or express interests as well either. But we are not doing our kids any favors when we dictate to them what we believe their choices should be or the way to execute them. In fact, we rob them of important decision making skills. We deny them the chance to try and fail and learn from that failure. It’s not to say that tools like Pinterest can’t be used, but should be used with extreme caution and prejudice on the parent’s part. Mom-extraordinaire Elizabeth Foss put it this way:
My kids have lots of free reign. The one caveat? If they know about Pinterest and they want to scroll for ideas or inspiration, I don’t keep them from it. But I also don’t drive myself crazy replicating the supply list for a Pinterest project. Let’s all just be reasonable here.
We can offer our children guidance which is not overbearing and controlling if they need assistance. But they should never feel that the goal is to create something that pleases their parents’ tastes. And we should learn to be pleased with what our children have to offer at their various stages of life.
3. Pinterest can set unreasonable and unreachable expectations.
This is true of any Pinterest post, not just the ones relating to our children. Some people become so enamoured of an idea they see there that even if it is unattainable because of time, money, location (ie an igloo pin I saw once for most of us), or some other thing that it borders on obsession. And that’s healthy for no one.
As I said before, Pinterest is not inherently evil. Not at all. It can, however for some people, be something that drags them down and goes a few rounds with them if not checked. Like all things, enjoyed in moderation, it can be helpful and even make life a bit easier, but when it borders on anything above, it’s time to slowly back away and take a break.