Tuesday, December 07, 2010

want to feel better about your parenting? read this!

Before I had kids (and therefore still ensconced in a phase of youthful hubris wherein I thought I knew everything) I swore I would never let my kids watch TV. Certainly as a Peds resident, I well knew the AAPs recommendation that no kid under the age of two years should watch any TV at all, and after that, if I let my kids watch TV, it would only be high quality educational programming that we would watch together. Like "Masterpiece Theater" or "Nova," maybe "Mystery!" but only if the crimes were tasteful or at least of the charming, small English village, Miss Marple variety.

My kids watch TV. Sometimes they probably watch too much TV. I do still try to control what they watch and in what quantities--it's mostly PBS/BBC nature shows or innocuous Nick Jr. fare, and I stay away from channels with too many external commercials (though I am aware that Nick Jr. is ostensibly commercial free, at least with respect to sugary cereals or fad toys, the number of internal ads they run for their own shows and tie-ins is obscene)--but still, my kids watch TV, and much more than I thought I'd let them watch before I actually had kids. And maybe that's not good.

But if there was no TV, I would never be able to take a shower, or cook dinner, or write stupid blog posts like this one. And until I can see the grey matter liquefying and oozing out of their ears like so much protoplasm, I'd like those "I don't even own a TV" people to come over to my house and show me what harm it's doing. Or at least take care of my kids so I can eat dinner for ten minutes after work while standing behind the sink.

Look, I even got a bean bag couch for the basement, a sure sign that I've given up the fight. (See also: two boys that like to dive bomb the furniture. Why even try? Bean bags, Berry Berry Kix and "Yo Gabba Gabba" for everyone!)


  1. Honest Med Student7:13 PM


  2. I vowed to abolish TV from our home whenever we decided to have kids and let's just say I laugh at my pre-baby self and the ridiculously impossible restrictions I thought about implementing.

    Here's a funny truth about kids and TV:

  3. Anonymous10:23 PM


  4. Hahahah what a great post, Michelle!

    Btw, which iPhone are you using? (i.e. 4 vs 3GS?) Your pics turn out so great!

  5. iPhone 4, Hipstamatic app for the most part. Thanks, glad you like the pics!

  6. ...and I was just about to post the Nataliedee link. Thank goodness for Netflix-->Thomas the Tank.

  7. Seriously. Baby Einstein DVD's, ftw.

    But because I'm a sucker for feeling guilty... why shouldn't children under 2 watch *any* t.v.?

  8. I watched (what would not be considered too much) TV as a child...and not just the educational stuff. There was Lavern & Shirly, soap operas (with my mom), Muppets, the A Team, bunches of cartoons and then there was the original V series. I was 3 (30 now) and watched it with my father after the A Team. Not sure what dad was thinking, but I loved both shows!. Anyway, the point being, I did well in school, didn't get into too much trouble, wasn't hyperactive and grew up to be a fully functional adult TV isn't the devil and I LOVE that bean bag couch!

  9. pedsdoc11:32 AM

    The reason the AAP recommends that children under 2 not watch TV is that there is data (GOOD data from well done studies) that increased TV watching is related to a decreased attention span. That's why.

    However the same studies actually showed a small benefit for educational TV in kids 3-5 years old as long as it was less than 2 hours a day.

  10. pedsdoc11:37 AM

    see: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/113/4/708

    and for good TV watching ideas/guidelines, see- http://www.aap.org/family/smarttv.htm

  11. I let my preschooler loose on youtube so that I can get things done. He likes some really boring stuff involving Microsoft train simulator.

  12. veronica1:55 PM

    Michelle, you rock.

    And if one more person tells me "I don't even own a TV" I am going to vomit on their face. No one cares, get over yourself.

  13. Juanita6:14 PM

    If you really want to feel better about parenting, check out this post: http://community.livejournal.com/parent_failures/1424.html

  14. zinemama7:01 PM

    Veronica, I sincerely hope you won't carry out that threat if we ever meet. I don't own a TV. And really, it's not to piss you off. And it's not about projecting an image or whatever it is you imagine when you hear me say it. For me, no TV is the default: I grew up without one and it just feels normal. So yeah, I have two small children and no TV. I don't expect anyone to care.

    But Michelle, never in a million years would I presume to come to your house and tell you you're doing any harm to your kids. Because I don't for a minute believe you are. Like everyone else, I spouted a pretty self-righteous line about a host of parenting issues before I had kids. And like everyone else, I got a reality check and a nice helping of humble pie over a bunch of them. And I will again, I'm sure. If that doesn't make any of us parents less inclined to judge each other on stuff like this, then we're doing something wrong.

  15. Anonymous2:31 AM

    My son writes music for Yo Gabba Gabba and is the voice of Muno (the red one). They really work hard at giving "life lessons with a beat"!

  16. Anonymous: YOUR SON IS THE VOICE OF MUNO? That is really awesome.

    And zinemama, sorry, I didn't mean to sound like I was being judgey on you, that was not my intention. It was more just a joke about people who are aggressively pushing their life agendas and beliefs on you, like vegans who make a face every time you talk about eating...well, anything. We didn't have a TV for a while either, but these days, with computers, it doesn't really matter anyway, right?

  17. I said the same thing, but then I discovered Signing Time, and a half hour of blessed(relative) silence in which I could actually study.

  18. zinemama2:03 PM

    Oh, no worries, Michelle! I know how sanctimonious some of the no-TV folks can be. Just wanted to assure you that we're not all like that.

  19. Anonymous9:22 PM

    Michelle, where did you get the bean bag chair from - it is durable? Been wanting to get one for the basement for a while...

  20. Anonymous5:10 PM

    I once read a book that recommended Wheel of Fortune with the sound turned down for toddlers. Something about all the smiley happy faces, bright letters, and spinning wheel, I guess, but the screaming/cheering was apparently too much for young minds to handle.
    They also recommended the Lawrence Welk show, something I personally detested as a child. Something about the bland happiness of the dancers/singers was supposed to be non-overstimulating.
    Perhaps the AAP overlooked the value of boring children to sleep.
    My neighbor used to make his son watch the local cable access broadcast of our town's city council until he got bored and begged for bed. He told me this when I was elected to the council. Now his son thinks it's cool that his neighbor is on tv and won't fall asleep. I've ruined a great parenting strategy.

  21. Bean bag couches are AWESOME. These are Cozy Sacs, purchased off of eBay (they have a storefront, new products, not resale) and they have held up to many cannonball runs from two very energetic kids. They look terrible, of course (very schlumpy), but who cares, they're in the basement, and we're not entertaining the Queen of England or anything.

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