Tuesday, August 11, 2009


As if we didn't feel guilty enough already, Time has to bitchslap parents with a header like this. The article isn't much better, what with all the facts and warnings and American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations. Normally I'm a fan of all 3 of these things but let's get real. Until a doctor comes over to my house and physically turns off the set, my son is going to watch some Blue's Clues. Hell, he will watch it DAILY. That 28 minutes of uninterrupted laundry/dishes/email time is all that stands between me and rabid insanity some days. My entire childhood was spent in front of the tube. It was on from the moment I woke up until long after I went to bed. I ate every meal in front of it, did homework with it blaring in the background. And yet my parents were super-involved in my life. I was an avid reader. My standardized test scores were positively bragworthy. I might know less about the cosmos than a 1st grader but I blame that on my love of note passing, not The Cosby Show. Intellectually I understand that moderate television viewing - even before age 2! - will not make my son's brain ooze out his nose. So why do I feel all Bad Parent when Owen climbs up on the couch to manhandle the remote?

I understand that they have to go Red Alert about this stuff because some parents park their kids in front of the set for hours but come the frak on. It's like the cold medicine thing - a couple of horrible daycare workers dosed their charges with Benedryl to make them take naps (yes, really) and now nobody can give their kid a decongestant. Choosing to exclude television in your household is one thing. I'm totally in support of parents who find other ways to recharge! It's the INSISTENCE, the GUILTING, of these articles that sticks in my craw. 30 minutes of quality educational programming will not ruin a child. It just won't.

I can't be the only person of this generation who watched their weight in TV growing up. Do you feel scarred by it? How do you handle it with your own kid?


Missy said...

There was a lot of TV on at my house too growing up. I remember reading more than anything else. I am shocked now by how there was virtually NO monitoring of what we watched.

At our house my kids get an hour of what we call screen time. Screen time is any time spent watching TV, playing on the computer, or using the playstation. They choose how they spend their screen time each day.

At times they fuss about wanting more, but usually they accept it without a bother. They both read and play a great deal. Some days it is harder to enforce than others, but basically it is just our routine now. Some days (like today when one is sick and getting bored) I will give a bit extra. Then I get cool mom points.

We are very strict about not eating in front of the TV. Every once in a great while we will have pizza and watch a movie in front of the tube, and again when we do that.. MAJOR cool parent points.

Like anything it is all about moderation. Fuck those who try to make it a guilt thing.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

I'd say the guilt thing has more to do with control of the mothering force. You're bad if you work, bad if you SAH, but don't spend every single second with the kids, bad if you let them watch TV, bad if you over schedule them, bad if you hover-parent, bad if you ignore them.

You have to ignore a whole LOT of what the general media says, or read it and let it wash off your back. Take whatever they're currently selling and find the parts that make sense for you and toss the rest.

If I DIDN'T let the twins watch DVDs randomly throughout the day, I'd be insane and we'd NEVER eat. Plus, the house would be completely covered in crap, as opposed to just mostly covered in crap.

When I was a kid? I watched enough TV for my entire family. I'm not missing out now. I did my share of watching, Eric's share, and all 3 kids. This is why we DON'T have a TV. BUT! Just think of all the theme songs I know from the 70s and 80s?


Colleen said...

I watched a lot of TV growing up. PBS was always on (we didn't have cable) and I think I turned out OK. My kids probably watch more than they should in summer (I'm always screeching "Turn it off and go outside and play!" but that's mostly because if I hear the Sponge Bob song once more I'll pull my eyelashes out). But when school starts next week, they'll be way too busy to watch TV, so I kind of relax about it a little in the summer.

Just on a side note, I wonder if our parents read all this unsolicited parenting advice, and I wonder if it bothered them as much as it bothers us? My mom thinks it's kind of stupid to worry about all that stuff, said it was much easier when we were kids b/c kids were kids and parents were parents, and they all had our own jobs to do, and nobody fussed at her if she spent time cleaning house instead of trying to find quality time with all four of us every day. I don't think she had any angst about staying home with us when we were small, and I don't think anyone gave her a hard time when we got a little older and she went back to school and then back to work. And for us, every transition back and forth (and there will be lots for most of us) is fraught with worry and anxiety over whether we're doing our kids irreparable harm. Are we just a more neurotic generation, or are people picking on us more?

Mamalang said...

I'm a firm believer in allowing each family to do what they feel best for their family...within reason. As Missy said, it's all about moderation. I didn't watch a lot of TV growing up, because apparently my ADD doesn't allow me to care about something for 30 minutes and I get bored (still do). But my hubby watched all the time. Still does. We don't have a strict limit of screen time, and in the summer I'm sure they watch more, but we also keep our kids busy and stay involved in their life.

Like most things, when you deny something that their peers have, you create an even stronger curiosity.

And I avoid most articles like this, or my eyeballs would be permanently glued to the tops of my sockets from so much rolling...lol

Becoming Mommy said...

there wasn't a whole lot of TV in my house as a kid, but my parents did have us watch some every day.
Parents need to shower, load the dishwasher, or just have a guaranteed 10 min. break.

So I don't feel at all bad that my kid watches Max & Ruby.

TV is a great reward. Both for us parents (yay! I can read a chapter in a book!) and our kids.

People need to get a grip on reality.