Thursday, November 10, 2011
Does TV Feed Your Children Swear Words?
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