One of the more common topics of discussion here on the Attachment Parenting Blog is the issue of media. Should kids watch TV? Should they use computers or play video games? We have pretty strong feelings about the topic and even our ten year old only watches about one movie a month, if that.
That’s why when the following comment from a reader who has a rather unique situation of her own appeared on our blog, we were so interested…
“We did not have TV growing up. I watched occasionally at a friend’s house but never more than one one hour program. Her parents and mine had similar philosophies on parenting with the result that we were more likely to be playing around in her dress up box than watching TV.
“I am in agony about how to deal with TV now. My husband and I are expecting our first child later this year. I would love to raise this baby similar to the way I was raised, with tons of books and music, including radio, but not much TV. Problem is, my husband is a movie addict and one of the many combat vets who needs to have some sort of background noise playing at all time. I understand his need, to him the TV running represents safety and civilization, but haven’t figured out how to balance his legitimate need with my equally legitimate desire to raise children with a love of learning that doesn’t come in five minute bits.”
First off, my hat’s off to her husband for serving in the war. While my Dad and Sister have both served in the armed forces, I haven’t myself, so I am only aware of the costs of doing so second-hand.
Nonetheless, parenting is parenting, and it seems to me that there should be some middle ground you can reach, some compromise. Before you do, though, I would encourage you to have a candid discussion with him and talk about your own experiences and your desires for creating a nurturing environment for your child.
That’s tough, though. I am a huge film aficionado — I’m watching House of Flying Daggers as I type this — and am dying to share all the great movies with my kids. But Linda and I have agreed that we minimize media exposure to our children while they’re this young, and I know that when they’re in their teens, watching a great film like Citizen Kane and then talking about it will be a formative experience for them and a deep experience for me.
The way I address the issue is that I sometimes watch movies during work hours, or I stay up late and watch them after the little ones have gone to sleep. And sometimes I just sneak away and take an evening to myself (or with my friends) to catch up on some comedies, sci-fi or foreign films.
I wonder if your husband couldn’t do the same, where you set up a “TV room” where he can wander in and read, talk on the phone or actually put 100% attention on the TV itself, but where it was a no-kid zone. Most of the time he’d know it was there but you’d leave the TV off, and if he felt like he needed “a fix”, he could get it easily and with minimal disruptions.
You might also consider what you have on too: For example, there are meditative DVDs you can buy and play in a loop. Even that, though, like some sort of Baby Einstein DVD, will suck the baby’s attention and get in the way of what you seek. Could radio serve the same purpose? A CD changer or iPod dock with a few dozen of his favorite albums?
The key, though, is to candidly discuss both of your visions of a positive, nurturing environment for the baby and see what kind of compromise you can attain.
We wish you the best of luck with this challenge and hope that other readers will pipe in with their own suggestions and ideas about how to find a compromise!