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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Does TV Feed Your Children Swear Words?

Remote Control

My husband, Doug, and then seven-year-old Nick were watching The Bad News Bears. I was appalled. The language was filthy. These snotty-nosed kids and their recalcitrant coach had no respect for authority or each other, and Nick would soon be talking like a potty mouth if we continued to let this trash into our living room. Suddenly, Devoted Mommy transformed into Fundamentalist Mommy.

“I don’t want to hear that language in our house ever again, and I want that filthy show turned off.” Doug and Nick just looked at me.

I continued, “TV is straight from the pit of hell and I can’t sit by and watch you fill your brain with this garbage.”

Doug may be incorrigible, but I still have to exercise some moral authority over my children. I learned that from my own mother. We had knock-down, dragout fights over Three’s Company and Charlie’s Angels. I would sneak downstairs and watch these shows with my older sisters over my mother’s deep disapproval. (Which was worse, Jack and Chrissy living in sin, or Farrah Fawcett showing her cleavage? I never got an answer, I just knew they were both bad.)

What kind of mother would I be if I let The Bad News Bears ruin Nick’s innocence and lead him down a path of destruction?

So later that night, after I put the girls to bed, I told Nick that we needed to talk. We sat in his bed before prayers, as we do every night, and I explained to him that some things on TV are wrong, and the Bad News Bears really shouldn’t say bad words.

“Did you hear bad words in the movie today?”

Nick responded, “I’m not sure. I know stupid is a bad word.”

Nick is a smart kid, so he saw this as an opportunity to ask me, point-blank, what the other bad words were that had caused me so much concern. Now I was stuck. Fundamentalist Mommy was going to have to feed her own son swear words. So we talked about how “hell” is a bad word, and why you wouldn’t want to tell someone to “go to hell,” because that’s where Satan lives.

Nick asked, “Is it still okay to say ‘for heaven’s sake’?”

“Yes,” I said. “That’s still okay.”

I was thankful he still had some innocence left. And I didn’t have the heart to tell him the other bad words in the show. We’ll save that for another day.

How do you deal with the impact of TV on your children?  Is TV a necessary evil, or just plain evil? Or am I overreacting?

**excerpt from Chasing Superwoman, pp. 21-23


Laura@OutnumberedMom said...

Oh, my. This sounds so familiar.

We limited our TV viewing, watched lots of tapes/dvds, and did tons of screening. My biggest problem was having boys that spanned 9 years in age. What was appropriate for the oldest wasn't for the youngest.

I say, "Break out the books!"

All4Lucy said...

I completely remember you guys asking me where he got the word "stupid" from and finding it was from the Charlie Brown movies he had seen. Crazy how those words are found in the so innocent ways.

mrsgleffter said...

After my almost 5 year old pulled out "What the H-E- double hockey sticks is Mary doing?" about his little sister, we decided to buy a TV guardian to block some language from some shows that are good in premise but for some reason have to have bad language. It has helped a lot (plus it reminds me what junk I am filling my head with - because it blocks the words).

We also tend to watch a lot of shows on the cooking channel and now HGTV. Thankfully our kids love them.

Heather Sunseri said...

This is a tough subject, Susan! I often wonder if I'm a little too lenient when it comes to what I'll allow my children watch and read. We watched Bad News Bears earlier this year, and yes, I was blown away by the awful language, but cringe, we didn't stop watching it. Every time a bad word was uttered, I said, "We don't say that word." "Or that word." Etc. My children finally looked at me and said, "Mom. We get it!"

I think as our children age we can use these movies (many of which we grew up on - Back to the Future is another example of horrible language) to teach our children that this stuff is out there, but that we have to be able to choose not to use it. I think you did a great job of teaching your son "why" he shouldn't tell someone to go to hell, and not just "you shouldn't say that word."

Connie@raise your eyes said...

Wise mama you are Susan. Although I don't agree with all he said, Edmund Burke profoundly stated, "The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing."