About seven months ago, Sam and I decided that our family was done watching TV. Not just for the kids, but for the parents too.
It was a tough choice: not only is TV entertaining, it’s effortless. All I have to do is sit and stare while world-class entertainment is downloaded into my brain. It feels great, especially after hearing the kids scream, “Dad” 7452 times (“Mom,” on the other hand, is yelled on average 152,423 times a day).
Raising kids is a constant physical, mental, and emotional battle. Once the little tykes are finally down for the night (and I mean really down for the night, not the “I’m hungry and I’m thirsty, can you get me something” down for the night), I’m done. I know I should probably do the dishes or clean the little bits of hamburger out of my carpet, but I’m done. My brain can only handle so much. So, I got in the habit of flipping my brain off and flipping the TV on.
I imagine a lot of parents feel this way (at least I hope I’m not the only one). TV provides major decompression for millions of people at the end of every day.
Because I like TV so much, the decision to stop watching was a tough one. But it was the right one for our family. TV was having a terrible influence on us and we needed to take a step away from it.
In this post, I’ll share the eight reasons that motivated our decision to cut the cord.
Reason 1 – TV is a Time Sucker
TV takes up so much time. It’s never just ten minute here or twenty minute there. It’s more like two hours here, three hours there. There’s always something entertaining on with an equally entertaining show on next. It’s so easy to find yourself saying “I’ll watch just one more” seven times in a row.
Reason 2 – TV Negatively Affected Our Kids’ Behavior
One day, Sam and I were listening to Junior and Addy talk and we were appalled at how rude they were being to each other. They were saying things that they certainly hadn’t heard from us.
At first, we couldn’t figure out where they learned such bad behavior. Over the next couple days Sam figured it out as she listened a little more closely to the shows the kids were watching. She was surprised to find that the characters in kids’ TV shows are frequently whiny and rude. Even worse, some of the shows depict children who disregard authority figures with little or no consequence. Our kids didn’t need those influences in their lives.
Reason 3 – We were Substituting TV for Parenting
Before we had kids, I had an idealistic view of fatherhood. I imagined coming home from work to find my loving children and adoring wife happy and smiling. The kids and I would snuggle on the couch and read a book while Sam made dinner. After dinner, we’d play a game, do baths, get pajamas on, and zip the kids off to bed. They would fall right to sleep, happily content with their great day.
Turns out parenting is a bit more complicated than I imagined. Kids are conniving, crazy, and chaotic. They know just what to do to drive their parents bonkers. And they do it, over and over and over again. While I know I should be doing things to “spark their imagination” and “open their minds to the wonders of the universe”, sometimes I just want five minutes to myself. TV is always there to provide that relief, and I found myself using it a little too much.
Reason 4 – We were Rewarding Poor Behavior with TV Time
Disciplining children is easily my least favorite part of parenting. It’s so hard to be consistently firm against the tidal-wave of willpower encased in the tiny body of a two year-old. My kids keep coming at me and coming at me until I break.
Time outs don’t work, counting to five doesn’t work, and sending them to their rooms doesn’t work. Setting them in front of the TV works. The moment Curious George comes swinging across that screen, they sit down and shut up. And finally, I have peace.
After letting Sofia the First solve my disciplining problems one too many times, I decided it probably wasn’t a good thing that I was rewarding my kids’ bad behavior by letting them watch TV.
Reason 5 – TV Exposed Our Kids to Stuff We Didn’t Want Them Watching
Sam and I are very protective about the content our children are exposed to. We don’t want our kids to be naïve, but there are just some things kids shouldn’t watch.
With TV in our home, we were giving up at least a degree of control over the things our children experienced. Even though we were only streaming kids content online, they were still seeing things we weren’t happy with. I can only imagine how bad it could have been if we had cable TV. There are so many bad things out there that remote wielding toddlers can stumble across.
Reason 6 – TV Took the Place of Couple Quality Time
TV wasn’t just hurting our kids; it was hurting us. TV tricked Sam and I into thinking we were spending quality time together. But we weren’t. We weren’t talking or bonding. We were vegging, a lot. Sometimes it was fun, but it was never emotionally and spiritually rejuvenating, as a marriage should be.
Reason 7 – TV Kept Sam and I Up Too Late
I can’t count the number of times we watched Neal Caffrey well into the night only to realize it was one in the morning and the kids would be up just a few hours later.
Reason 8 – There Are So Many Better Things to Do Other Than Watch TV
Check out our post tomorrow to find out the things we do now instead of watching TV.
If your family doesn’t watch TV for a reason I didn’t mention, please comment below. Or, if your family decides to stop watching TV, send me an email about your experience and we’ll feature it on our blog.