Unplug the Television! Momma Lion! Part One.

Aug 20, 2010 | On Motherhood | 26 comments

This is a long one however, if you have offspring, young or old, a grandchild or a two year old I appreciate your feedback.
 
Here is my soapbox and here is me, in three inch heels, stepping on to it!!!
Mothers, Momma’s, Mommy’s and Mom’s… whatever title you have been given…
I’m talking to you.
Back a few weeks ago I did a post on health and a darling commenter said,
“You had me at “Be Skeptical.”
I love that she said that.
Really, It warmed my heart and made me want to be her friend.
But today we are going to talk about the health of your children and the health of your defensive parenting skills, the Momma Lion in you.
That part of you that is skeptical or not skeptical enough!
In this “Momma Lion” series I am going to try and write about a few things that I believe we parents assume we are doing a good job with but I imagine, we are just a bit too busy and thus, delusional…
  I’ve said it to friend’s before,
“It’s not 1983 anymore.”
I was 8 years old then.
Things were bad, I believe this was about the time when that “America’s Most Wanted” guy’s son was killed.  I was told not to talk to strangers and we weren’t allowed to watch sit-coms… but today in the Farmhouse or I should say, in this series, I would love to go deeper than that. So strap on your seat belts, grab a cup of coffee or a glass or wine and hear me out…
I believe, upon observation, that most Mom’s… and forgive me for saying this… but most of us are not entirely “On our game!”
I’d like to touch on a few things in this series and if you have more ideas I would be happy to write on them…
Today’s subject…
1.  Television.
 
Like the 80’s anti-drug campaign.
This Parisienne Farmgirl says…
“Just SAY NO!”
Most of you are going to disagree.
You will have the “everything in moderation” answer.

 That sounds like a 50/50 compromise to me and I’m not down with that.

(If you take the national average of hours the average child spends watching TV per year and divide it by two… that’s still 750 hours.  How’s that for 50/50 — SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY HOURS! That is almost equivalent to the hours spend at a PART TIME JOB!   If you don’t believe me, grab a notebook and sign in every time you’re kids watch… see how fast it adds up in just a week!)

I don’t agree with the authors wishy/washy spirituality but I was given “Mitten Strings for God when I was pregnant with my first child and it’s one of the two books I give at every Baby Shower I go to.  (The other being Happy Baby/Healthy Sleep Habits).  But my point is,  the author mentions something along the lines of “Why would I want an outside source to have daily access to my child, telling them what is cool, how to feel about themselves, what behavior is acceptable”, etc.
I was very convicted by this as a first time pregnant woman, full of ideas on how I wanted to “do things different.”  And then I heard that Madonna was not going to let Lourdes watch T.V. and that Tom Cruise would never let his kids watch his movies and I thought, holy crap
SURELY I will be a better Momma than MADONNA!!!!

If she can do Motherhood without television, I CAN!!!!

So we made a decision that our kids would not watch television and that initial decision was based on morality and exposing them to things we don’t agree with, never mind what we learned later about what they say about children and their brain development before the age of two… now, at the time I made that decision I was still watching “All My Children” at noon.  Religiously.  I could not give it up.  With me, it was like Custards Last Stand, until my younger sister came over while it was on one day (and her life wasn’t exactly in order at the time) and she said,
 “What the heck Ang, this doesn’t match up with anything you say you stand for!”
And that was the end of my daily obsession  with A.M.C. for me.  Yes, I still watch the occasion Mad Men and things I don’t always morally agree with but A.M.C. was an obsession for me plain and simple.  (Shortly there after followed my nightly love of Bill O’Reilly, Fraiser re-runs, Friends… etc.   And then one day… poof!, aside from loving to watch a NASCAR race, I had no need for T.V. and now, if it’s on at someone’s house, or when we plug it in on Sundays to watch a race within an hour we find ourselves crabby, snappy at each other and agitated.  That sounds dramatic I know but I don’t think anyone could understand until they have walked away from it for a significant period of time.
There are no redeeming qualities in the media as far as I am concerned that our children should have a daily, relationship with.
Children need a daily relationship with nature, music, art, their parents and Scripture.
Children are HIGHLY addictive…
I mean come on, how many times have you heard “DO it again!” ???
 From The Wiggles to SpongeBob Queerpants… it ain’t happening in this house.
First of all, those shows, dumb the CRAP out of kids… there aren’t many good reasons to plop them down in front of the T.V. aside from a moment of sanity.   And really, face it Mom, it’s probably more about you when you turn on that boob tube and very little about them.   Trust me… I have had 3 children in five years… I understand the need for sanity… just ask my wine bottle.  (LOL)  HOWEVER.  All it takes is a few moments of self control and discipline on your end to say “no” to that favorite show and re-direct their interests.  I know, it sucks, because it requires your time and attention when you would rather be on the phone, cleaning or… blogging.  But I tell you what, you give those munchkins a batch of homemade play dough or a book full of photographs of fish or dinosaurs… you let them help you make dinner… let them help you fold that wash or pull that weed… and that will hold their attention for much longer than Dora the Explorer!  But yes, you will have to mess up your kitchen for a few minutes and clean up the crumbs on the floor after bedtime.
The noise of the T.V. is one we can all do without… the rapid editing of the commercials… and you wonder why six year old boys can not pay attention in kindergarten… that is because for the last two years they have spent two hours a day watching scene change after scene change, commercial after commercial… I believe their brain becomes formatted to only be able to tolerate life in 20 second segments.
Life does not come in 20 second segments,
Life does not come with attention getting music
and Lord knows education does not.
What I am saying is briefly this:
Our children can survive without the television.
I promise they can.
 But it WILL take more work and more interaction from us.  And yes, some day’s… it sucks.  You would rather hand the responsibility over to Diego!

But here is the thing Momma, if the Great Harpo and her buddies are advising you on a daily basis, but you’re telling your darling kiddo’s that they can’t be influenced by an outside source… well, you’re kidding yourself.  That double standard will only last for so long.  And I am all about preventing teenage rebellion and I believe a double standard is the biggest culprit (more on that later).

If the T.V.s is the first thing on in the morning; you are missing out… on family time, on time with God, on not being assaulted with advertising, on not being assaulted with stupid, colorful, musical, crap for your children…
(Now, here is where you could go after me.  
We do like movies around here.  
Our inventory consists of a whopping 5 or 6…
Wall-E
Toy Story One and Two
Cinderella
Cars 
and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
That’s it.  And if they are available in French, as are Cindrella and the Toy Story Movies, that is how we watch them.  Whether we understand it or not and ONLY as a special treat maybe once a week and NOT during the summer.)
If the T.V. get’s thrown on the minute your kids walk in the door from school; you are missing out… there is no Japanamation, not even a corny 80’s “after school special” that beats a homemade after school snack and undivided attention from Mom.  BTW, the average time spent in meaningful conversation with children and their parents in America is…
3.5 minutes per week.THREE POINT FIVE MINUTES PER WEEK.  And I think the goal here, when we hear a horrible stat like that is not to think, “Well, thank God my kids don’t watch that much” but instead to challenge ourselves, what are they watching, why are they watching, for how long are they watching and what are they missing out on in the meantime???
If the T.V. is on during dinner (66% of Americans) and the duration of the night.  Commercial after commercial, program after program, news cast after news cast.
You’re a fool.
Do you honestly think your children are going to hold your hand when you pass from this life and say, “Dang, I wish Mom would have had a little more sanity, a little more “Mom Time.  She should have plunked me down in front of the t.v. more often”. “
I doubt it.
Be bold.
Be a Momma Lion, roar with the responsibility God gave you in raising your children, take control,
and
Unplug that televsion!
 
 
 
Sorry I can’t say these things a bit more tactfully… stepping off my soap box now and going to bed.  

26 Comments

  1. Priscilla

    Once after I was worrying about not having as clean a house as I would have liked, my dear husband said, “When she is grown up, she is going to remember playing paper dolls with Mum and not the dust bunnies under the bed.”
    As always I love to see a young mother with so much common sense. And I love to read your blog.

    Reply
  2. Mrs. B.

    Can I just say???
    I LOVE you. I LOVE this. I’m recommending this post on my blog.
    You’ve challenged me – thank you.

    Reply
  3. Mrs. B.

    P.S. I adore Mitten Strings for God. Fantastic book.

    Reply
  4. Joannah

    This teacher wants to have more students with moms like you, Angela!

    Reply
  5. VickiB

    Having just moved my “baby” into his freshman dorm room, I’d like to say that the time moms have with their children is so much shorter than you’d ever imagine. More moms need to hear what you’re saying!!!

    Reply
  6. Stephanie

    Bravo for explaining this with such passion and conviction. As a woman without kids, I can say that everything you’ve said applies to adults just as much. I think it turns my brain to mush. All of these reality shows that are so addictive really are the biggest waste of time and the casts are full of horrible examples of how to be. Why do we as adults let TV influence us so? Great post!

    Reply
  7. Pam

    I’m standing up and applauding you right now! What you posted today is so true. This is an area we have really been working on. We had the cable turned off a few months back, but we still watch movies more than we need to. My dilemma has always been having an only child (not necessarily by choice)and my son not having a playmate other than myself. I can’t be his playmate all day long. I have noticed recently, though, that the more the TV is off, the more he is finding other things to occupy his time. I think you’re so right about the addiction thing. Anyway, thank you for challenging me again today to step the game another notch! Hugs to you!

    Reply
  8. Tamra

    Nice roar!

    My mom and I just had a conversation last week about how many kids today are not learning to use their imaginations at all! My niece and nephew (age 4 & 9)are tv and video/ computer addicts. So when they come to my house it’s always with the instructions “Send ’em in clothes they can get dirty” because once they are here I open the door, point outside and say “have fun and don’t torment the rooster”.

    They love coming to my house! But invariably they will come inside and ask to watch tv or get on the computer to which I say (as I did for my girls years ago) “nope, you can watch a movie before bed”. And you know what? They always find something to do and usually together which is even better.

    I’ll never forget last year when they were over with their cousins from my S.I.L’s side. Those four kids (ages 3-11)were outside all day, every once in awhile coming inside excitedly asking for some exotic item like a rope or hammer or pen and paper to which I would either hand it over or tell them where to go look. In the afternoon I was hurriedly called outside to see their masterpiece. I cannot even begin to tell you the joy on those four little faces as I looked at their “Go-cart” they had created out of old tires strung together with rope and numerous items stacked in the center to create a fabulous imaginary vehicle. They were filthy dirty with smiles from ear to ear. As I snapped pictures of them “driving” and standing in front of their creation with arms held in the air showing their muscle and looking at their beaming faces as I told them all how proud I was of them for working so hard to create something so amazing all I could think was “This never would have happened sitting in front of a tv”.

    Your kids will complain as they grow because their friends get to watch all kinds of shows, but in the end, as smart, intelligent, well mannered, ambitious adults…..they will appreciate you.

    Nice work mon ami.

    Reply
  9. Anne Marie

    being an advocate of the same thing – throwing out the tv – I would like to add another element to this…the constant stimulation and ADD…there have been studies linked to problems surrounding ADD and ADHD –

    it is time more women take that time with their children – I don’t mean home school and bake bread all day with them…but WE are their primary caregivers……

    all very well said Angela…

    xo+blessings,
    Anne Marie

    Reply
  10. Liz Living Country

    Great – more Mom’s need to hear these words. As a Mom of two adult daughters – I always told them – “you don’t have to like me and you don’t have to love me – but I need to do my job and be the Mom and set boundaries for you” Thankfully they love me and we have a great friendship too.

    Reply
  11. Pamela

    I very rarely let my son watch T.V. as a little guy. I would put on Peter Pan or other Disney movies but not alot. We played all the time and i took him everywhere.
    So far at eleven years of age he is a polite , responsible well adjusted child. A child that every year the teacher says the same thing…Wish all my students were like your son.
    My friend is now dealing with her step son who before she came into the picture watched T.V. 24/7 ! He has ADHD and the specialist said that 90% of this was caused by lack of stimuation and too much television!!!! I could go on here having met other children affected by too much television.
    Great post.
    Pamela 🙂

    Reply
  12. Homemaker Ang

    Better yet, don’t unplug it, pull it to the curb so all temptation is GONE! there are then no options 🙂

    video games = videots… too!

    good post!

    Reply
  13. Jenny

    Ouch. Got me thinking. My little one, this hot texas summer has been watching quite a bit of TV but I have involved her when baking, cooking, and projecting, to join me. And being my little shadow she is game for anything. My hubby and I take care of our 30 head of cattle on our ranch in the evenings (he works outside the home full time too) and she is always a part of that work. I am thankful for our DVR because any shows we watch are minus the commercials but it is no excuse for the too much time spent in front of the boob tube. Thanks for the swift, but loving kick. Thank the Lord.

    Reply
  14. tina

    For a minute there, I really thought we were going to talk about the dangers of kids in Mountain Lion territory..of which I raised three children in!
    Oh but you had to go here…television was monitered closely when our kiddos were little and for quite a few years we didn’t have one. There are 10 acres here and the neighbor gives us free access to his 3,000….there is alot one can do…or be made to do..the word “bored” was never allowed and if you DID say it, I always had weeds that needed to be dealt with!!
    Now they are grown and they all have there own TV’s and cable..but there are no children in their homes (yet) and I do believe that will make a difference to them when the time comes. We didn’t get a “dish” until five years ago..and let me just say…oh, my I am SO glad I don’t have children today! It would b e SO outta here! The stuff that comes across it, the PRESSURE to behave, dress, DIET that is aimed at children…and yes, you are a child in my book until you are 16 and then you still may be unless you show me some maturity!
    When our little grandson is born next month, he will never watch TV and grandma’s house..never. And if I have to homeschool him because they both have to work, than so be it! Unbelieveable the STUFF…Real Housewives???? Are you kidding me????? I’d like to see them scrub the toilet or clean up puke from a toddler! I dare ’em!
    Oh, see what you did? Ya got me on my soap box and being so short, it takes me a bit to get down…
    climbing down now…sorry…. 🙁

    Reply
  15. à la parisienne

    Four years ago, we stopped buying satellite TV and at the same time, we quit tuning in…I mean REALLY…No NBC, no ABC, no CBS none of it. My husband and I realized how much time we were wasting away in front of the television, not to mention how shameless and immoral even the simple commercials had become (by belittling dads, sex appeal, etc.)
    Now, we just have a subscription to Netflix because it has a much better selection of foreign films than our local video store.
    As for our daughter, since she turned two, she gets to watch 30 minutes a day of a movie- Winnie the Pooh in English or French or Brainy Baby in French (She’s outgrown this actually). I don’t feel one ounce of guilt that she doesn’t know who all of the stupid cartoon characters are. One day all that will matter is that she knows the Lord as her Savior and that she understands what the Bible says about living her life.

    When I was a highschool English and French teacher, my students knew my stand about television and actually about how anti-technology I was. My second favorite book that I’ve ever read in my life is Fahrenheit 451. This was always the last novel I had my students read before the summer and you wouldn’t believe the kinds of discussions this book prompted. If you’ve never read this book, you MUST get a copy toute de suite!

    Reply
  16. Deb

    I am going to try to be brief. Right.

    My only child is 35 years old. She was kept from Strawberry Shortcake and Holly Hobby cartoons, Smurfs saturday morning shows, and nearly all TV except Little House on the Prairie (and there were a couple of those that we didn’t have her watch). Before anyone gets nuts about this: you should know that she played piano, cello, and bass clarinet. She won science fair honors and sports awards. SHE LIVED A NORMAL LIFE! NO free-range TV-ing left her a lot of time to be productive.

    I could go on for days about this, but I won’t. You are doing the right thing when you unplug (and not just the TV unless you are going to be a good monitor of all that your kids view).
    Overprotective? I can’t even imagine how you could be overprotective or too “sheltering” in this day and age.

    Two good books…although dated, the priciples are the same. Wonder about all the ADD and ADHD and all the rest being so prevalent these days? Read “Children Without Childhood” by Marie Wynn (sp?) and “The Plug In Drug”…and I can’t remember the author…maybe the same? Sorry.

    I taught school for 13 years before moving on to another career after my daughter was in college. I knew what kids were seeing and hearing and being influenced by.

    Done, sorry for the rant…you struck a bit of a nerve.

    Reply
  17. Carissa

    Wonderful Post!!! I could not agree more!! We have been doing this since March of ’09, and it has been the best decision for our family.

    I posted about your post with a link to it. Everyone NEEDS to read this!
    Carissa
    PS Look forward to the next Momma Lion post! 🙂 Great Blog!

    Reply
  18. Olive and Branch for the home

    Love this post! The irritable side effect of TV is amazing to see – I never believed it until I saw it with my own eyes! UNPLUG!

    Reply
  19. Erin

    AMEN!!! So glad I stumbled on your blog. You had me at conservative rants and high heels. Merci!

    Reply
  20. Carissa

    Hi Angela,
    Thank you so much for stopping by. Love your blog… I have been reading it for about three years now. I don’t comment that often, little ones need their momma! But I have enjoyed!! My Aunt bought me the set of lambs off of Parisienne Farmhouse several months back as a gift, and I just love them! There in my bedroom. Loved the soap sample that you sent with it~Smells Heavenly!!
    I love your posts on Motherhood! RIGHT ON GIRL!!!
    I’m still wanting to try your macaroons!!! Just haven’t put an order in yet, soon! 🙂

    Take Care,
    Carissa

    Reply
  21. Christina

    Just stumbled across your blog, great post. This spring we got rid of our digital cable (we still carry channels 1-10) It was rough at first but the kids have adjusted and actually spend more time together (two are 16 and 15) they look forward to having a family movie night too.

    Reply
  22. Mandy

    This is my first time on your blog. I think we’d get along fabulously:)

    Reply
  23. LUCKY 7 DESIGN

    I love this post….just found you today and again quite thrilled I did. I shut down the TV for my 2 1/2 yr old last year when she was diagnosed on the Autism spectrum. After 3 months I slowly introduced her to PBS shows. I do agree that children watch TV too much in this country. I myself love some drama shows like Housewives and of course my HGTV shows but rarely sit down and watch TV unless maybe I happen to nurse my baby in the living room. At 38, sometimes I just like to listen to quiet or the noises outside my window. I will try to be the best Momma Lion I can be, thanks for reminding me! God Bless.

    Reply
  24. judi

    well said!
    found you via fiona & twig and so glad i did. as a mom of 2 who are now 22 and 24, i so agree that tv is a time waster and imagination flusher. we had strict rules for our kiddos when they were growing up.

    it frightens me when friends/relatives of mine allow the tv and inappropriate (for their age) movies to be viewed so much. i so agree with the comments about add/ adhd- i watch in horror as these children who are on meds are allowed to continue watching tv-playing gameboy or whatever the newest gadget is! hello? have these parents even thought this through? actually, no, becuz the parents are too involved in their selfishness. AND these poor children are socially inept to say the least.
    (ok…stepping off my soapbox now)

    thank you for a good read and prod in the best direction!

    judi 😉

    Reply
  25. fairmaiden

    When my children were little(I had four under five yrs. old) we thought about throwing the T.V out. But instead decided it would be better for them to learn to live with a T.V in the house and not watch it all the time(self-discipline). We were already different than everyone else because we homeschooled, gardened/cooked/cleaned organically and naturally. It wasn’t ‘IN’ like it is now. Then my toddler broke the T.V. So we did live without it for many months. When we purchased a new one it was teenie tiny with a built in vcr. We had that T.V for 10 years. But when our kids reached teens, we bought a 32 flatscreen and that is what we still have today. We’ve never had cable…who needs more channels to try NOT to watch. We have an abundant movie collection. And after my oldest turned 16 and went on a rant to watch everything we’d never allowed in our home. He returned to being a non-t.v watcher. He’s 20 now and tells people “I don’t watch T.V”…he thinks its a waste of time. The rest of my children are too busy to watch much…but they do like to watch Friends re-runs and the Office…and movies on the weekends together as a family. They would much rather be outdoors than sitting on the sofa. Afterall when they were wee ones we spent many hours a day out in nature, drawing/painting/crafting while indoors, baking, reading(and reading outloud). If you do these things with them while they are children they will grow up to choose to ‘live’ rather than ‘veg’.

    Reply
  26. the VG huis

    Ok I’ve always enjoyed your posts thoroughly…but this one is right up my alley. We have unplugged our t.v. for the summer also and it’s utterly amazing. I have 3 boogers…8,7 and 4 and this summer has been the summer of family reconnect! I would absolutely love to post your post on my blog if that’s alright with you? I was thinking of doing something similar, but I love everything you’ve said and want to share it! I’ll wait to hear from you first though. Thanks so much for posting! Stacey
    frankandstacey@rogers.com

    Reply

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