Monday, June 6, 2011

Television and Children

My children will probably be fat kids with ADHD who are depressed and who are on the autism spectrum and they might be sociopaths*, but the good news is later they'll get Alzheimer's and forget I did this to them.

*Maybe they won't be sociopaths... I might have made that one up.

So, here's the thing- according to many sources too much TV is bad. So bad that TV might actually rot a child's brain (thanks for that one, Mom.) But Obesity and Depression and Autism and Alzheimer's are really truly tragic diseases and frankly scaring parents into thinking that plopping the kiddo in front of some Sprout or PBS is going to single-handedly create one of these serious disorders is insulting to people who actually suffer from them.

Now I'll admit Jack does act like a velociraptor in heat if you turn off his show before he's ready... or you won't turn on his show when he's ready. This is frustrating to me, but you know what's more frustrating?! Coming downstairs after putting Henry down for a nap to find that my bored and unsupervised 3 year old has made a fort on top of the dining room table out of the bone china (I don't actually have bone china... but it could happen.) Sometimes TV is necessary. At least it is in my world.

Right after Henry was born Jack probably watched 6 hours of TV a day. I'm not proud of it, but it's the truth. I felt so guilty. I cried, more than once, thinking about how I was farming out the parenting because it was easier for me. I worried constantly about what kind of damage I was doing to him mentally, emotionally and physically. I was taking the easy way out, it was springtime and I was forcing my active 2 year old to spend hours indoors while I got my mom-of-two sea legs. I went to the pediatrician because Henry was having a bad reaction to the mini-pill which I was taking (which my Midwife actually discovered) and the PA said to me while I sobbed about feeling guilty about utilizing the TV "Well, that's what happens when you have them close together." Unhelpful b*tch. (They are more than 2 years apart, BTW... not that it matters.)

So I've come to a conclusion as a complete non-expert on the topic, parenting is hard. Parenting comes with guilt about LOTS of things. Does 'the man' really need to lay it on so thick about Television? I'm not Amish. We have a TV. I like to watch it, usually after the kids are in bed. It was a major crutch when Henry was a brand new babe, and it's a useful tool now that my guys are older. It's not on all the time, we certainly get out and see the world. But I am absolutely done feeling guilty about letting the kids watch TV for a couple hours here and there.

I don't often get on a real soap box here, but this is me sticking to my guns (which I learned about because of watching TV and now have violent tendencies as a result.)

I am not a bad mom for using the TV as a part of our schedule. I'm not going to feel guilty and you shouldn't either!** My name is Emily, and I let my children watch TV, and I'm still a good mom.

**Unless your kids are actually plugged in, Matrix style, and then I will be the first to tell you how messed up that is.


Emily said...

Also, my former (pre-children) self would like to apologize to my current self: I'm sorry for judging you for letting your kids watch TV, I was wrong, keeping your children from ever watching television is NOT easy, and also NOT realistic.

Gail said...

Hey, when did I say that?

Mrs. MidAtlantic said...

Have I told you lately that I love you?

Kristin said...

Hey, We do the best we can. And for you and me, sometimes a little tv babysitting is absolutely necessary. I'd like to personally thank the Baby Einstein DVD's for 27 minutes of glorious free time everyday. My baby loves that shizz.

Kristin said...

I used to feel guilty too but then I realized that that time I get when he is in his exersaucer zoning out the sparkly windchimes to the tune of baby Bach is much more beneficial than me not getting a chance to catch my breath.

Kate said...

Liam doesn't watch TV (except for the occasional episode of "Kipper" On Demand) but he has a growing appreciation of Pixar and Disney films. We started watching them when he was sick and he was feeling bad for so long (almost 2 weeks) that the energy and tears involved in breaking off movies entirely just doesn't seem worth it.

melaniet42 said...

I'm with you! We're just getting out of the Jillian watching too much TV stage, mostly due to the arrival of consistently decent outside weather.

Heather said...

What makes me not guilty when I turn on the TV for the boys, is that they don't watch it the whole time. It's like background noise for their playing. But if it's not on, they find trouble so fast, just like you said.

Emily said...

You may not have said exatly that, Mom, but I think all mothers at some point tell their kids that sitting too close will make them go blind or that they had better go out and play because tv will rot their brain. Right?