I distinctly remember a conversation that Travis and I had with another couple when we were preggers with our first, Selah. Somehow we had gotten on the subject of children’s media and they were incredulous at our intention of keeping it bare bones in our house.
Them: Well, aren’t you going to let them watch the Simpsons? (insert look of amazement)
US: Ummm.. Heck no.
Them: There’s nothing wrong with the Simpsons. It’s hilarious! Our kids are gonna love the Simpsons! Don’t tell me your going to be one of those ‘Disney is Evil.’ families! (I almost stepped aside to look in the mirror to be sure that I hadn’t actually grown two heads)
Us: Well, the thing of it is…
Yes, the thing of it is… what is the thing of it. Simpsons. Yes, it’s funny. Seriously clever and entertaining. But honestly? Mom’s a wimp and off in lala land. Dad’s a lazy bum that certainly isn’t the best example for his kids. Bart, totally undisciplined and disrespectful. Lisa, unchallenged and unvalidated. Maggie…whatever. Dude, go for it. Watch the Simpsons. I’ll watch it now and then and laugh. But I’m not going to let a 3 year old that is just learning how to be respectful and interact with others watch that. It plants seeds that I don’t want and I have enough weeding and pruning to do on my sweet little guys. I’m not up for adding that into my workload. You go for it. That discussion was about 5 1/2 years ago. As far as I can see, the other couple’s kids are pretty great. I’ve never asked if they actually let them watch the Simpsons. It’s just not that big of a deal to me. When they get older? Maybe. Doubt it, but maybe.
Now Disney. That’s just downright evil from the pit of hell. Oh, I so crack myself up sometimes. There was a huge ‘boycott Disney’ movement when I was growing up. Maybe it’s still around? Surprisingly enough my parents didn’t get too active in it. They’d already cut out so many things that they had Disney covered long before the boycott started. I never say scooby doo until after I was married. I still don’t think I’ve ever really seen the Smurfs. My father still swears that smurf means ‘little demon’ in Swedish or something. We seriously weren’t allowed to watch just about anything. Except the Cosby Show, Little House on The Prairie, Mash, Night Rider and McGyver. The last three because my father loved them and his short lived stance against the media for kids wasn’t as strong as his desire to watch HIS favorite shows. No TiVo back then.
Ok, back to Disney. I don’t hate The Mouse, but I don’t let my kids watch Disney, I think. I say I think because it’s more about individual movies. These movies are made by some seriously talented people and I enjoy them. But children see things so differently. They see a movie one timeand they’re consumed with the desire to BE the princess or the hero. They long for the romance that they don’t understand and aren’t ready for. They see the villains and monsters and their little hearts haven’t yet learned to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Think about Sleeping Beauty or The Little Mermaid. The witches are terrifying! Not just because their witches and witches are eeeevvviillll. They morph into these huge monsters with sounds and flashes and …terror! It’s the picture that I don’t want to be putting into their little minds. Their innocence is only intact as long as I protect it. And at this point we prefer to limit their exposure to things that are a little more on the realistic side of fantasy. None of them seems scared by our oppressive parenting so far.
But I’m also very big on giving our children choices. Because, whether we as parents like it or not, they always have a choice. And “because I said so” can be a slippery slope of uneducation that I don’t want my kids to slide down. So, I spend a lot of time explaining their choices.
Last week Selah saw a copy of Sleeping Beauty and was just begging to see it. The child was batting her eyelashes with a sweet little tilt to her head. She looked up at me with those big brown eyes…. “Please let me see it, Momma.” So I sat down with her in my lap for a talk.
Me: Why do you want to watch this movie, Love?
Selah: Because I want to watch the Princess and see the castle! It looks beautiful.
Me: She is beautiful, but this movie is a little bit scary. There is a mean witch in this movie that wants to kill Sleeping Beauty. She’s mean and hateful. She throws fire and turns into a dragon and destroys things especially trying to kill the prince that is coming to save the princess. It gets really loud and confusing with lots of fire and the big dragon. I’m worried that if you watch this you will have those pictures in your head and your heart, and they will make you afraid when you think of them. They will give you bad dreams in the night when you could have had good dreams without those pictures in your head.
Selah: Oh…. stares off with her brow creased in concern.
Me: Selah, Do you still want to watch the movie?
Selah: No thanks, Momma. I’m going to go play with my dollhouse. Maybe I can watch it when I’m 10. And off she gallops to sweet playtime adventure.
Now, had she said yes I would have talked to Travis and we may have sat down and watched it with her, asking her how it made her feel at intense intervals to see how she fared. I have no doubt that she would have asked to turn it off at some point.
So, the TV is hardly ever on around here, but I don’t go around saying the TV is sinful. I do love that instead of begging for, well, I don’t know any shows really… my 5 and 3 year old will sit side by side for an hour at the dining room table doing puzzles. They haven’t seen a lot of the popular movies and didn’t understand most of the costumes on Halloween that kids wore pertaining to their favorite characters. My kiddos begged to dress up as Dorothy and The Tin Man because that’s what we were reading at the time. See, they get some fantasy. But, I still wouldn’t let them watch the ‘Wizard of Oz’ for quite awhile.
I have found that the Pixar movies are generally pretty good. See, I’m not totally off my rocker. They don’t have the romantic themes and, while fantastic, they’re more realistic? The kids were just allowed to watch Toy Story at a friend’s house. My son immediately decided he is Buzz Lightyear. I have to say that it confirmed my conviction a bit. If they are at a stage where they are going to take on the personalities of what they watch, I’d better get some good stuff into that DVD player for them to copy!
Anyway, I’m now rambling for no reason. I’m sure you get my point. I’d love to see some suggestions for good movies for kids to grow on. The current favorites are Charlotte’s Web, Mary Poppins, Sound of Music and Evan Almighty, followed by any Veggie Tales they can get their hands on. Think about it for a second and post a comment letting me know what movies you want your kids to act like?