A few weeks ago, I declared my blog controversy free...And here I am about to write out my thoughts on media and my child. Can it get any juicier?? Don't answer that.
What a touchy subject, isn't it? It seems like everyone has a strong opinion on this one. People get defensive. Or feel guilty. Or feel helpless. I know one thing's for certain. Judgement gets us know where. Except to feeling yucky at the end of the day.
I only want to share what Byron and I have learned through observation and trial and error as parents to a young child in the modern world not because I think we have it figured out. We don't. We fail often. I want to share because this parenting journey is such hard work and we do need support from each other, guidance, and most often, a listening ear. Neither Byron nor I, are quick to take on strict black and white views of the world. We tend to find ourselves frequently questioning both sides of an issue. It's quite easy to peer into someone else's windows, pass judgements and declare ourselves righteous. But at the end of the day, we can only take responsibility for ourselves and have compassion for our neighbors.
Bea has had some exposure to TV. There have been seasons where it has been more prevalent. Yes, she'd watch a program or two a couple of times of week. As she has gotten older, she's often become fixated on wanting to watch more Curious George, Thomas the Train, or Caillou (those were what we have allowed.) Yet, ss she has entered the 3 year old phase, her will has become very strong, and she is not as easily redirected. We found our struggles were becoming more intense. Then, finally, after an indulgent week with family earlier this summer, we hit a wall once we were back at home where I knew that Byron and I needed to assert control over the situation. Though, we've never let her indulge at our house, it was beginning to feel like a constant battle that didn't need to be fought.
So we cut out TV during the weekdays. Plain and simple. Even though the programs she has been exposed to have been as benign as they come, we chose this route because she's at a stage now, that if we aren't dilligent in our intentions, she would want to watch a lot more television. I was afraid that we'd lose control and that she would eventually be spending hours each day in front of the screen, watching programs that supported none of our family values and prevented her from her main tasks of playing and working. Then we'd find ourselves scratching our heads wondering where her newfound mannerisms and tones derived from.
For her, TV is very alluring and very impressionable. With the flick of a remote, she can be transformed from a particpating, active, verbal, musical, young child to one that is entirely passive. And passive is not who she is. She is not herself when she watches TV.
And that's that.
I like who she is. Even on the hard days. I like how eager she is to help us in the kitchen or with backyard projects. I like how she plays around the house with her Dolly, making up sweet and funny songs and scenes of daily life. I love her enthusiasm for riding her bike and her passion for books. I love her curiosity about the world, and her thoughtful wonderings about our existence.
Don't be fooled into thinking I am not tempted to turn on the babysitter - often. Like any 3 year old, Beatrix can be an intense little person. Our days can be overflowing with emotions of every sort and conversations to match. There are times, I survive one breath at at time, digging deep to find every last bit of grace stored away inside my being ~ truly, every bit is needed.
TV is attractive. It can offer the much needed respite that so many of us parents need, especially by the end of the day. And I've taken it on days where there was no capacity for another creative option.
However, since July, we've cut out TV almost entirely. We have gone for several weeks without her watching any TV at all. For the first week or two, it was a challenge. She cried and whined almost everyday to watch a program. But once she got out of the routine of watching her program, she stopped asking for it. During those parts of the day where she relied upon TV for entertainment, she began discovering how to fill her time with more play or creating her own down-time for herself.
When I do allow for her to watch TV, she sees it as a special treat - not something that we just do, and not something that is a part of our everyday rhythm.
We've noticed the more she doesn't watch TV, the more she doesn't think about it. The more she does without it, the easier it is for her to find creative ways in which to play in her environment. When I hear her composing songs, or playing restaurant, or mama and daddy, or snuggling up on the couch engrossed in a picture book I feel a great sense of peace knowing that despite the struggles of being a three year, she's doing alright. She is getting a chance at childhood. And I think that's the greatest gift of all.