Do You Support Your Child’s Obsessions? (And If So, How Far Do You Go?)

Posted October 19, 2011 by

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When I was in high school, I was obsessed with “Ren and Stimpy.” My mom and I would watch the show together and then we’d imitate the characters. Later, I became obsessed with “Animaniacs” and my mom would record episodes for me when I was away at school, as well as buy shirts and other items for me. She even hung out with me and my friend at the mall when we went to meet the actors — that’s how tolerant and supportive she was of my obsessions.

I didn’t truly appreciate the power a child’s obsessions have over their parents until I had kids of my own. It started innocently enough, with everyone’s favorite furry friend…Elmo! Then The Wiggles came along and that’s all we heard about for eight months, when E was two years old. While I found The Wiggles annoying, I also ended up singing the songs with my son, getting him videos and CDs from the library, and finding stuff from them on the Internet. After M was born, E slowly lost interest in The Wiggles and I Freecycled his videos so that M couldn’t carry on the obsession someday. In the meantime, there was “Hi-5,” a cute educational show on The Learning Channel.

Last year, M became obsessed with “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” as I was using it to teach them about Joseph’s story in the Torah. It wasn’t just about listening to the CD on every car trip, but also about watching the movie.  After that phase was over, he became obsessed with The Laurie Berkner Band. He now has every song memorized and asks to listen to her on every car trip. He watches the DVD that she put out a few years ago and also watches newer videos online. I entered a contest for him to win her new DVD and some other prizes, including the chance to speak to her on Skype. When I found out that he won the grand prize, I was as excited as if I had won tickets to see Adam Lambert. (Maybe my parents can win those for me…)

I’ve come to realize that being a parent means supporting your kids’ obsessions, as long as they’re age-appropriate and healthy. I’m interested to see what my daughter will become obsessed with someday. I won’t mind if it’s Barbies or Babysitter’s Club books, because to me, part of loving our kids is respecting their likes and dislikes and enjoying them together.

Feel free to tell us about about your child’s latest obsession — and how far you’ve gone to share it with them.

About

Melissa A. and her husband have 2 young sons, E and M, and a new baby daughter. Melissa's son E has hearing loss and wears a cochlear implant. Melissa works as an administrative assistant for a non-profit and also runs a bullying prevention group and a book-related fan group, in addition to blogging for Empowering Parents. You can check out Melissa’s personal blog here.

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  1. Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor (Edit) Report

    Melissa,
    Our 8-year-old son is obsessed with reptiles, and is begging us for a snake. (He already has a bearded dragon.) I’m all for supporting his hobby, but I have to draw the line at snakes. (Mostly because I can’t stand the thought of feeding them frozen baby mice. Ugh.)

    Reply
  2. Wendy (Edit) Report

    As the parent of two children with Aspergers, I completely agree! If I tried to curb my kid’s obsessions, it would create a lot of anxiety for them. I think that the term “age-appropriate” has to be stretched a bit for kids like mine, and why not for any kid? There are limits of course, some things are just too mature. But I think that if your child is really, truly into something they are expanding their mind in a wonderful way!

    Reply
  3. Jennifer C. (Edit) Report

    I am so guilty of this! We too rolled our eyes through a Wiggles obsession only to end up at a live show 3 hrs away singing our hearts out to “The Big Red Car”. I have become a garage sale detective and expert ebay bidder to support obsessions of Thomas the Train, Star Wars, Scooby Doo and most recently Harry Potter. I truly love to share in their joy over their loves. I also love the challenge of finding special pieces for them at a bargain price…aka the holy grail. Luckily and sadly, my daughter isn’t nearly as passionate about her things. She idolizes her big brother’s things and is happy with any baby doll with hair. She is the harder one to shop for presents. I always thought it would be the other way around. I am glad to hear that help with their obsession is not an unhealthy practice.

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