Parenting Issues: Nasty TV Shows

By: Frank McGinty

'The last thing I want to do is alienate my kids. Yet I can't see any way forward. I just don't know what to do!'

We were sitting in the school's Guidance office and the mother was becoming more and more intense. She wanted an answer, but could find none.

She was a devout churchgoer, but because of the nature of this dilemma, she felt she couldn't approach her minister.

It was the minister who had made her think. He had spoken at length about how films and TV present us with a constant diet of bickering, low moral standards, lack of respect for elders and so on. The way of life portrayed was anything but uplifting!

As she saw it, this Mum had only two choices: she could turn a blind eye, like lots of people were doing; or she could turn the TV off and forbid the kids to watch these programmes - but that would no doubt make them go elsewhere.

And being heavy-handed about it was sure to cause disruption and a breakdown in good relationships. What on earth could she do?

Most parents have to face this or similar dilemmas from time to time: just how do you cope with explicit TV shows, nasty DVDs, experimentation with drugs and drink when it's common practice in society? (You can take your pick of the challenge facing your kids.)

Right now, though, let's keep the offending TV shows as our example.

I would certainly go against the heavy-handed approach that says, 'No one in this house watches that filth!'

It's not that I would want to avoid conflict by shrugging my shoulders and saying, 'Oh well, that's the way it is these days. Why rock the boat?'

It's precisely because that's the way it is these days that we must do something about it. But what?

Well, let's train our kids to think for themselves and consider the values we want them to have. After all, we can't be with them all the time. We can't make them do something, especially if we're not there.

Far better, then, to train them to have high standards.

This can be achieved by an open discussion of the content in these shows.

If a show is downright evil or immoral, then definitely let's keep it out of our homes. But for the majority that portray a lifestyle or behaviour we take issue with, then let's view them (with our kids if possible) and have the confidence to open up a discussion about what is being portrayed.

These issues usually centre around family values, respect for others, respect for self and respect for the society we live in (its institutions, customs, and so on).

Let the children have their say, then, without bullying or losing your cool, state your views in a calm, assertive manner. Leave them in no doubt there are better options!

In this way you expose them to higher ideals and teach them to be more discerning. If they witness strong leadership from you, they will be more likely to follow. So when they are away and you have no direct control, you can be confident you will have influenced their responses.

Happy parenting!

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