The old TV debate

I was listening to Brendan O’Connor on the radio this morning. The discussion was the lack of fresh air that children of today get. Apparently their access to fresh air is more limited than those who live in our state prisons. Of course the inevitable happened. On came a caller who announced to O’Connor (and the rest of the country) that her three children (all girls; six and four-year old twins) literally never watch television. They come in, take their coats off and go upstairs to colour and play. Note she never said they went outside, I was quick to catch this but her point seemed to be that it’s easy to go down this route. Her children never ask for the tv because guess what lazy parents it never even occurred to her to make television a part of their day. I mean she just never considered it an option! You could tell from his tone O’Connor was not impressed but he let her hang herself. She was careful to point out to us mere mortals that she wasn’t judging anyone, no she didn’t mind if others let their children watch five hours or more a day. Let me tell you the judgement undercut every word; you could hear it in her voice. She was dying for a pat on the back from O’Connor but he wasn’t biting. Instead he asked her if she had ever gone on a long journey (five hours for example) with her children. When she replied no, he insinuated that she didn’t know hell until she had done this and said there were times he wanted to kiss Steve Jobs’ feet! She played along but you knew she was really thinking; feck off Brendan I’d be playing spot the red car and singing jolly songs with my kids on a long journey.

Of course every so often she would reassure us that she wasn’t preaching, oh no we could do whatever worked for us. It’s the children she is concerned with. Parents introduce their children to TV then give out when that’s all they want to do. Oh parents would you not just think of the children? You are to blame. So in case you were listening to the show during the five minutes of the day when you felt like a good parent; fear not Lisa from South Dublin is here to remind you that you are not. Did you not know that children aren’t born knowing what a TV is? It’s all your fault, you bad little parent you!

Excuse my sarcasm but Lisa made me want to punch something. Most parents feel they are failing their children probably 95% of the time do we really want to start a war over whose child watches more TV? Why people like Lisa enjoy speaking down to the rest of us is anyone’s guess. Insecurity? Superiority complex? The high one gets from being absolutely smug while pretending not to be? Who knows? But I’m sure, once her interview ended, she sat expecting texts of praise and thanks for showing us crappy parents The Way! I didn’t get to hear anymore but I’ve a feeling Lisa will be waiting a while.

Fear not your child will not become an addict if you allow access to TV during the day. In fact they will probably grow up just like my generation whose own parents didn’t realise that watching The Den after school would have such deletrious effects. How could they have been so careless? I mean really! The point is we grew up watching TV and we turned out okay (mostly). Yes screens are more prevalent today and yes we do need to acknowledge this and try to set some sort of limits. But don’t feel bad if your child extends the time limits now and again (or you are feeling too tired to impose them). It happens. Repeat after me – you are not a bad parent, you are not a bad parent, you are not a bad parent! Ignore Lisa and anybody who else who tries to tell you how to parent. Do your own thing. You’ll be grand.











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