Friday, January 6, 2012

Parents as filters for all that is coming at our kids!

Here was today's parenting tip on my Balanced Parenting  Facebook page:

"Parenting tip of the day: Be a haven of shelter! There are so many images (especially on television) that put our senses on overload. Everything is more - more dramatic, more graphic, more frightening, more, more, more seems to be what America is demanding. More of a good thing isn't always a good thing! Keep an eye on what your kids are exposed to, limit the extremes when possible and talk openly when you see something that is over the top. We have to be filters for them to protect them and educate them on what is "normal" now more than ever!"

I just felt like I need to elaborate on this, so I'm turning back to my long-neglected blog.  This is too important of a subject to stop there!  I must share my thoughts.

Last night I was watching Grey's Anatomy.  I've watched the show for years and love it!  I haven't watched it in a while as my television watching habits have changed.  TV has taken a back seat to many other activities such as working, writing and raising my kids, however, I confess that when I do watch TV, I'm addicted to The Food Network.  I digress.

**WARNING** The following may be a bit graphic!!!  **WARNING**

During last night's episode of Grey's Anatomy, there had obviously been a horrible accident.  Remember, I'm coming in without any idea of what has happened in previous weeks. There were dead and injured bodies all over the road, a traumatized teenage girl was asked to hold an injured baby and pump air into the baby's lungs. Meredith Grey had to stop a truck from running over the bodies in the road by using her own body as a shield, narrowly cheating death herself. 

Later, back at the hospital, that same traumatized teen had to watch both of her parents die, one after the other - with even more trauma in between and after.  Honestly, I'm too nauseous to even continue with the details. 

I know that drama is good and makes for great television.  I'll even admit that it was a good episode.  I just couldn't help but feel a little bit like the writers were taking cheap shots at getting me to cry by using the most extreme measures imaginable.  I was also very busy keeping my 11-year-old out of the room so as not to traumatize her sensitive, little nervous system or over-expose her to images that might have kept us both up all night. 

This show is only one example of many that are on television (thousands of channels, mind you) on any given day.  Has our society become so desensitized that we need extreme images to get a reaction out of us?  I think so.

This is the part I'm concerned about for our kids.  Will they become so desensitized that nothing will rattle them? Will they understand how precious life and safety are after seeing so much violence and so many injuries and deaths before their eyes on television?

That's where we parents come in!  It is our job to filter, buffer and limit the dangers our kids are exposed to.  Not only in life, but in their line of vision, as well.  Violent video games and graphic movies and television can take a toll on a growing nervous system.  Don't be afraid to say 'NO' to programming that is not age-appropriate for your kids.  As they get older and you can't filter as much of what they see, sit down with your kids and watch with them.  Don't be annoying, but talk to them about what you're seeing, share your thoughts and remind them of your values about life, relationships, etc...

My kids sometimes think I'm a real bummer - always reminding them that what they're seeing on TV isn't real.  I'm ok with that!

Wishing you balance,

Bette Alkazian, LMFT
Balanced Parenting