When my children were young we didn’t allow them to watch commercial television and only 2 hours of television a day (4hours on the weekends)
We followed that rule right up until the oldest started high school. It was amazing how much it affected their behavior. We would get lazy sometimes and start allowing more media, then pull ourselves back together and go back to the original rule.
We also controlled what they were allowed to watch. We controlled the stories they listened to.
Then somehow it all fell apart when the oldest got into high school.
Now my kids never watch television – even when we want them to (Shark Week) they aren’t interested.
That would be great if it meant that they were busy doing other things, but it doesn’t.
What it means is that someone invented something called an Ipad and my kids watch theirs constantly. In fact my oldest will play a movie on the computer while she is looking at other stuff on her Ipad.
For hours at a time.
The only thing that keeps my oldest brain from bleeding out her ears is the fact that she is a teen and sleeps late, then goes to work and only has the evenings for media access.
The youngest isn’t quite as bad as she still plays with her toys and goes outside to play at least a little bit every day.
But I worry about the stories they are hearing. As girls they are constantly bombarded with what society says is ‘normal’ and ‘appropriate’ for girls.
- Look pretty
- Be popular
- Be nice
- Dress fashionably (whatever that means)
- Have a boyfriend
I am fairly sure the message for boys isn’t really any better.
It feels so overwhelming. I want my children to be people of character. I want them to be the best people they can be.
In Building Better Families Matthew Kelly talks about the importance of how we live our lives. That is the story that will impact our children more than anything else.
- What do we do when we aren’t working?
- What topics do we discuss with other adults?
- Who do we talk about and what do we say?
I really started to think about these things and have actually started to make some changes in my own life. I have taken a hard look at how I spend my time when I am at home – the choices I make.
I ask myself the following question when I am faced with a decision;
“Will this help me be a better person?”
I have even been known to ask it out loud so my kids hear what I am thinking. After all if I don’t do it, why would I expect them to?
Instead of plopping down on the couch for 4 hours at night I now take walks almost every night – and I invite my kids or my husband to come with me. (The kids always look at me like I am insane, but my husband will walk with me.)
Instead of chatting about the latest horror in the news I talk to my husband about something I heard that was inspirational or interesting – usually from Relevant Radio.
Instead of yelling at my kids about cleaning their room or getting their chores done I ask them what was their favorite part of their day. (Then I talk about chores.)
These are small changes, but I can already see some improvement in how our family interacts with each other.
My kids are old enough now that I can’t control everything they hear and see. They are going to be out in the world more and more. Now is the time to help them build the character they will need to make the right choices and to make sure they know we are always here to love and support them – no matter what choices they make.
What stories are your children listening to?
Here are the other articles in this series.
Start Here This article is about why I started this project in the first place.
Introduction I don’t always read the introductions to a book, but I am glad I read this one.
Chapter 1 When was the last time you were inspired by something?
Chapter 2 Enjoy your family right now.
Chapter 3 – Part 1 Parenting is not about 1 great success
Chapter 3 – Part 2 – What word do you measure your parenting success by?
Chapter 3 – Part 3 – Screaming is a good thing?