Monday, July 19, 2010
“I will set no evil thing before my eyes…” –Psalm 101:3
I can already tell that this won't be a popular blog. I’m discussing the topic of television and no topic get’s more personal than TV. But when it comes to parenting, the management of the television can have huge effects on our influence on our children.
I grew up in a home with a great mom and dad and three older brothers. As the youngest, rarely did I get my preference when watching TV (don't you feel sorry for me)? I watched whatever my brothers watched on the 4 or 5 channels we could pick up on the antenna on top of the house, and since my dad pretty much controlled the TV, I remember a lot of Lost in Space, Leave it to Beaver, Gunsmoke and any sports available (which wasn’t much). The choices were simple shows about cattle rustlers and silly predicaments with friends.
One of my best childhood memories happened lying in my bed at 10:35 PM each night, having just gone to bed. We were allowed to stay up and watch the sports to see who won that day (before internet and ESPN) but had to be in bed promptly at 10:30. From my room, I could hear my mom and dad laughing at the Johnny Carson monologue. My dad would laugh so hard until he coughed sometimes. I fell asleep knowing there was laughter in the house.
All that has changed. Now, television is a major part of every household. I won't bore you with all the statistics- you can read them on the internet- but television controls and sways popular opinion about every moral area of society. Sitcoms that were once shy to even show a married couple sleeping in the same bed have been replaced by sitcoms that show unmarried couples having sex in bed.
Shows that were careful not to show anyone being killed or murdered are now replaced by shows with graphic murder scenes. Reality TV brings into the living rooms of America violence and sex on an unprecedented scale. Teens tend to conclude what's normal from what they see “everyone” doing on TV.
So, is the answer to remove televisions from our household’s? Probably not. The answer is to be a good parent and teach, not dictate. I remember my freshman year at Baylor seeing the “church kids” that had been over-controlled by well meaning parents get their first taste of freedom. I had a couple of friends that were dismissed from Baylor after their freshman year. Their grades were poor because they had partied and drank too much.
Our role as parents is to teach our kids how to manage their toys. It all starts in the playroom with Legos, teaching our kids how to share with friends and when to clean up the toys. The same applies to television, cell phones and cars. We teach our kids how to use them. We teach them what's appropriate and when to move on.
And of course, any good teacher models what they teach. So it is with TV. Sure, watch American Idol if you want, but if it gets trashy, turn to TV land and watch Andy. Explain to your teen why. If you’re watching a football game and a sketchy commercial comes on, watch the Weather Channel. Explain to your teen why.
Remember, if you’re watching it, then in the eyes of your child, you’re approving it.
That’s just the way it is.
So, enjoy TV, but be sure your watching style matches what you expect from your teenager.
By Eric Joseph Staples ©