Television – A Household Staple?
When the children were very little, it was quite easy to figure out what to allow them to watch or listen to. I don’t know about you, but Dora and Barney were pretty much regulars around our home; and the Wiggles soundtrack played on loop. Sometimes, I would get a little reprieve by sticking on some Baby Bach or Beethoven!
As they got a little bigger, I had to be slightly more creative with shows and music. Plain old nursery rhymes and Baby Mozart just didn’t cut it anymore. However, it still wasn’t too difficult, as the repertoire of good choices was still pretty broad.
Then, the kids grew up and were able to verbalize more than we could keep track of – all of a sudden it seemed! We not only had to be careful as to what they watched, but we had to watch what we ourselves said and talked about! Every parent experiences that epiphany at some point. They would echo things in the background, and my husband and I would look at each other and, without saying a word, would exclaim via facial expression: “Are you serious? Did Anna just say that??”
I, now, became more sensitive as to the sounds ringing through our home – sounds of television and radio. Words and lyrics were suddenly amplified to me. Funny that when you see the potential effects on your children, it is then that you become a harsher critic. Guess “funny” isn’t quite the right word; more like a “blessing.” Sometimes I ask myself: “Would I have continued being as lax as I was with television and music if God never sent me children?” That would’ve been the true test. I’m certainly humbled by the work of Providence.
I will be candid with you and admit that we had cable when I was growing up. The television seems to be one of those staples in everyone’s home. I mean, my husband is Filipino, and from what his relatives and parents tell me, though the Philippines is considered to be a poorer country, a great many of them have a television (and a cell phone!). I’m sure we can find that in almost all countries. Anyway, my point is that it just seems something every household “has” to have. And sadly, it often stays on running in the background, even when no one is actively watching. We were one of those families. Because my husband and I grew up with one, a television was one of the first purchases we made once we got married and had a place of our own (after our piano, of course????).
So, now the kids are talking and personalities and temperaments are really showing themselves. I could see that my 4-year-old at the time (the oldest) had a pretty strong character.
There was a family of four perfectly-behaved children (not kidding!) in our parish. I asked the mom what her secret was. She said absolutely NO media. (And it’s not as if the children seemed overly sheltered; they were actually social, polite and well rounded.) Ok…hmmm…no media? — that’s practically impossible; but it definitely got me thinking. We’ve always been told by several spiritual advisors to get rid of the television; if not for the shows themselves, for the random crazy commercials that pop up within the very few good shows left. Plus, what a distraction it is, not to mention how time consuming it becomes for both children and adults.
Well, we just couldn’t imagine NOT having cable. What would we replace that time and noise with? We’ve had it all our lives.
Then, one day, I was calling out for our oldest, James. He was now 6. I eventually found him in a bedroom behind a closed door watching a show I never approved of. To many it may not have been that bad; but for many reasons, it did not make my list. I caught him watching a YTV show and the scene was absolutely outrageous. It was the main kid’s grandmother doing her thing as a “Vegas” dancer on stage. I immediately shut the TV off and angrily told my son to leave the room. I was so upset. But…I knew right away that I was the guilty one here. I mean, how often did he go to that room and watch this show, because it was accessible? What about all the times I didn’t bother looking for him? I found myself crying tears of utter guilt. That was it — NO MORE CABLE. Meaning, NO MORE TV. We finally did it…and 9 years later, we’ve never looked back.
I have to admit, though, there was definitely a harsh withdrawal period that followed. Follow my blog and read how we got through this “mourning” period in a future post – it is not always easy to find “cable entertainment” replacement; but the positive effect on our family and our children is priceless!