When I was a kid I wasn't allowed to watch Smurfs or Carebears. I also wasn't allowed to watch ET, Gremlins and Goonies. We didn't have video games, pop music or gossip magazines in our house. I couldn't decorate my room with posters of TV stars or my favourite bands ... it was all animal pictures and inspirational quotes for me.
At the time I just thought my parents liked to say no all the time but now that I am a parent I get what they were trying to do. They were trying to protect my heart and mind. They were trying to keep my a child rather than allowing me to rush headlong into adolescents before my time. They were attempting to set boundaries and frame what is acceptable so that when I did become a teen I could make more right decisions for myself.
Mr. Awesome and I have spent a lot of time trying to find the right balance for our kids. We don't want to raise them in a bubble but we also want them to run wild. We have narrowed down our parameters of acceptable behaviour, talk and respect and have reigned in the outside influences accordingly. We know, that for our kids, most of the shows on a popular channel for families are not appropriate. The disrespect to adults, hyper-dating undertones and insult flinging is just more than our kids need to be exposed to right now so we encourage them to watch movies or science based shows like the ones on Discovery channel.
That's what lead to this conversation...
Gran - (hearing gunshots coming from the TV in the next room) What is Dude watching in there?
Random One - Something on Discovery (I listen for a second) sounds like Sons of Guns.
Gran - (slightly appalled) Why is he watching that?
Random One - Because he's not allowed to watch Zac and Cody.
Gran - he's not allowed to watch ... but he's allowed to watch ... oh my, this is one for the blog!
Seriously, I know that the kids will bend the rules when we're not looking, heck, they'll even break a few along the way. I did. I watched Smurfs at a friends house, hid NKOTB tapes in my heat vent and had pictures of Tommy Puett and Wil Wheaton behind the kitten posters. The thing is, when the important moments came, the smoking, drinking, dating moments I knew what to do. I knew what I wanted to do, what my parents expected me to do, because of all of the other conversations we had had about standards and boundaries. I made the right decisions for me because I was prepared.
So, I hope all the conversations we have with the kids now about good attitudes, dating readiness and peer pressure pay off in the years to come. More than that, I hope all of these conversations set the path and open the door for tougher conversations in the future. I hope that our kids get used to talking to us about things that matter so that it will be second nature to come to mom and dad when we hit the big league issues.
I hope ...
PS - I never did watch ET, Mom ... that was your other kid! :-)
The child supplies the power but the parents have to do the steering.
~Benjamin Spock, Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care