Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sound advice, sound control

They say you are what you eat. But you're also what you hear, at least going by how parents of even babies will try to fine-tune their little ones' aural environment.

We're not utterly innocent here. Our little radio alarm clock is tuned either to a classical music channel (Bach & Co. can apparently heighten mental development) or the BBC World Service (for some perfectly-pronounced linguistic imprinting). We keep the volume dialed low, but there's always some quality background noise to be had. When around Sonny, we also eschew baby talk or inane cooing - and make a concerted effort to introduce at least some Malay and Mandarin, along with English, into our conversation - so he won't come to consider any of these tongues alien later on.

That said, we never ran with the reading-to-the-unborn-child crowd. We part company primarily on motivation: We're not trying to give Sonny a head start in the rat race, as many of these parents aim to. Rather, we have certain ideas as to the sort of values and traits that are appropriate, or desirable, and these are what we hope to instil. Whether or not school grades or employability gets boosted is, for us, secondary.

It follows from this that, even as we tweak and nudge to control the sort of sounds that wash over Sonny, we will not go out of our way to expose him to anything that we ourselves would balk at, just because it might give him some sort of 'edge'. For instance, when it comes down to it, we rather enjoy classical music, so we want an appreciation of it to be implanted early on: It's only a bit of a bonus that it may sharpen thinking skills. Were it to be announced tomorrow that heavy metal had the same effect, we wouldn't rush to hunt for a relevant radio station: We are not fans of such music, for various reasons, so Sonny will have to do without.

Are we being completely consistent here? Probably not. But since when has strict consistency been a sine qua non in parenting?


Nona Nita said...

Not to worry, whether you expose the child to Heavy Metal music or not, he will find it anyway. It's called "The Teens" and he will like any music you "don't like". Just another developmental step you both will go through and of course, that's how it should be, no?

Cloudsters said...

You're very probably right! Can't control for everything, even if we wanted to - and, of course, the point is precisely that we don't want to go overboard that way. We must all find our own way sooner or later, eh?