All of a sudden I feel like a freak oddball - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 9 Old 07-31-2010, 09:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I may not describe the current situation well, so bear with me. I have a 5 1/2 year old daughter, raised on no TV and very very little in the way of movies, etc. (We visited Alaska and brought home a documentary of the Iditarod;we tried a DVD of The Nutcracker once, but she was terrified of the mice.)

It hasn't been that hard up until now. It hasn't been an issue with her friends because her best friend is also TV-free. And, up until now I've mostly been with her at other kids' houses because she has preferred my presence.

Now, we're in a new, more independent stage. She has made a new neighborhood best friend, age 7. This friend clearly watches movies a fair bit, as she frequently alludes to movies when she talks. And my daughter has reported that a couple of times at her house, her friend has put a movie into the computer and they've watched some of it (Alice in Wonderland, I think was one).

Then, I'd found this great neighborhood babysitter who does drop-in childcare. I liked her instantly, and my daughter (who has always found separation a challenge) likes her too. The woman's ad for her services said that she does have a TV, but it is very rare that she ever uses it when kids are there. But, just recently my daughter was scheduled to be there (& ended up not staying, but that's another story) and the babysitter said, "Oh, I thought we'd do a little PBS Kids and have some popcorn today...If that's okay...." I said, "Oh, well, we don't really do that at home." But, she was distracted by one of the other kids at that moment, so she didn't reply, but I detected in her facial expression a hint of confusion and surprise.

It just feels like now that my daughter is out there in the world more by herself, the TV thing is EVERYWHERE. And more than that, it's that TV/movies are totally the norm for a 5+ year old and why would I possibly be opposed to a little PBS/Finding Nemo/insert-latest-Pixar-movie-here?

Maybe I'm struggling with what my comfort level is? Or how to feel confident in my parenting decisions re: TV? Or maybe I need to really figure out what exactly my reasons are for not making TV a part of her life? Assuming she will one day ask, "How come Friend gets to watch movies and I don't?", which surprisingly hasn't happened yet.

I guess it's the assumptions of others that bother me. That I am weird for not being okay with what it appears every other parent around is okay with. Maybe the real question is: So what?
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#2 of 9 Old 08-03-2010, 02:32 PM
 
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It's up to you how strongly you want to enforce the rules regarding television. In the case of the sitter, you have a trade-off: do you value the sitter enough that watching some TV is OK? Obviously going to that sitter will mean some TV will be watched. You can't really set the rules at the sitter's house for her. You can only decide to send your kid or not to that particular sitter.

Personally, I find that I don't like playing the extremist card. We don't have TV at home, so we don't watch TV at home. When I looked at daycares it was important to me that they not watch TV at daycare (because I think that can get to be too much very quickly), so I made that part of my search. Would I compromise on my TV stance? Yes, if I thought that the TV use was truly *occasional* (or my use of the sitter was) and I really liked the sitter. You have to decide what level of compromise you're willing to make. (And I totally understand having a child who has problems with separation. My DD took a year to speak at her current daycare. We have a horrible time with this. So, in the case of an occasional sitter, in my case I would let the TV slide if DD was doing well at the sitters.)

However, when DD goes to a friend's house, I don't police what they do in their house. Part of letting DD socialize with others is having her exposed to other people's way of life. Just yesterday we were at a good friend's house who has a daughter a few years older than DD. They get along together very well, but we usually meet up at our house. Yesterday we were at their house instead and the girl wanted to show my daughter some game on their Wii. My friend jumped in and said "Oh no, (my DD) isn't allowed to watch any TV, so we can't do that". I told her that it wasn't necessary to do that, that my daughter wasn't "forbidden" from ever watching TV, we just chose not to watch TV at home.

If I sent my kid over to someone's house and they were showing inappropriate content to my daughter I wouldn't send my kid over to that house anymore. If I simply never wanted my child to watch TV then I wouldn't let her go to a house where TV was allowed. But, I can't set rules at other people's houses. I've made the decision to allow DD to go to other's houses where TV is allowed, because otherwise she would be extremely limited in her choice of friends and I don't think that's fair. We haven't run into any TV watching on play-dates yet, but if it were to become an issue (i.e. every play-date was all TV and nothing else) for a certain friend I would try to move more play-dates with that friend to our house.

I don't think you need some big justification for not having TV at your own house. It's a matter of personal choice. Different families make different choices all the time. You aren't neglecting or abusing your child you are opting not to buy one particular consumer product. It may be strange in our culture, but I don't think it's really that big of a deal.

Mum to DD 9/07 and DS 01/11

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#3 of 9 Old 08-03-2010, 04:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Re: the friend. Given that this friend, who lives on our block, is here pretty much every day, I think I need to relax on the TV at her house issue. The friend is here a lot more lately because her mom (single, work-from-home) is trying to get their house ready for a renter, so not much TV has been happening. Which is not to say the friend, along with my daughter, has not been trying to convince me to let Friend bring her DVDs over here. I stand my ground on that one. (And I have gotten in an extended why?-because! exchange about it. "Why can't we?" "Because we don't do that in our house." "Why?")

Re: the sitter. I guess I'm bummed about the TV thing because I have had such a hard time finding a reliable sitter that my daughter likes. To find what I thought was the holy grail of babysitters, only to discover that TV plays a role, was disappointing. My daughter is due to go to the sitter's house on Friday night while my husband and I go to a concert (something that happens, oh, never), so I suspect TV/movies will be seen. Oh well. Also, to be petty for a minute, I suppose I resent paying someone to basically watch TV with my child since I work so hard when I'm home with her (which is all the time) to avoid media. I know, I know, that's my issue, not the sitter's.

You're right that I need to assess what's important to me. I know, at least, that it matters most what goes on in my house (given that there's not inappropriate content in others' houses...hope I don't have to deal with that anytime soon!).
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#4 of 9 Old 08-03-2010, 09:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by bartleby View Post
(And I have gotten in an extended why?-because! exchange about it. "Why can't we?" "Because we don't do that in our house." "Why?")
I think it's great that they're happy spending time at your house, despite the lack of TV. I would stand your ground regarding your house rules (no DVDs). It won't be the last time that you'll get into the "But why can't I?" argument. Just view it as good practice!

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Originally Posted by bartleby View Post
Also, to be petty for a minute, I suppose I resent paying someone to basically watch TV with my child since I work so hard when I'm home with her (which is all the time) to avoid media. I know, I know, that's my issue, not the sitter's.
I totally get that. I'd feel the exact same way. But, if it gets you an occasional evening out with DH, I'd choke it down. We're lucky that my parents live near by, because I can't imagine my DD staying with an occasional babysitter. If I didn't have my parents near by I'd be willing to put up with a lot to get a night out every now and then

Mum to DD 9/07 and DS 01/11

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#5 of 9 Old 08-04-2010, 03:47 PM
 
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For me, it's a very high priority. So much so that I intentionally put my money where my mouth is. I pay a premium on babysitters. When I play tennis, most of the children are parked in front of the TV where I play tennis and they get free babysitting. I hire a sitter to come to the tennis center specifically to keep my dd busy and away from the TV. I pay very well, with the understanding that the sitter's job is to find ways to engage my child in ways other than babysitting. I also bring activities like art supplies, books, games, and toys so that the sitter has something to work with. Once I've made clear to the sitter that dd is not to watch TV, and that dd knows it, all the sitter has to do is distract my child once in a while.

My current response about why our family doesn't watch TV while other families do is, "[OurFamily'sLastName]s are too busy to watch any television." And it's true, we are because we fill up the vacuum with stuff to do.
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#6 of 9 Old 08-24-2010, 03:21 PM
 
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Also, to be petty for a minute, I suppose I resent paying someone to basically watch TV with my child since I work so hard when I'm home with her (which is all the time) to avoid media. I know, I know, that's my issue, not the sitter's.
I think it's totally reasonable to make certain demands of sitters. You are paying them! If she's not willing to turn the tv off for a few hours while she is taking care of your child, then you might want to look for another sitter. The idea that TV is a necessity is just bunk.

Attachment-Parenting mom to darling DS : (January 2006). : : : : :
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#7 of 9 Old 08-24-2010, 06:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Indeed, my daughter's stay at the sitter's house that night a couple of weeks ago included watching two movies. (Over a four-hour period, which kind of bothered me. I mean, yes, it can be hard to entertain an almost 6 year old and a 10 year old [sitter's daughter], but come on.) My daughter said one was about monsters (I think Monsters Inc.) and one was about hamsters? on motorcycles? or something?

In this instance, she was the only sitter available and I really couldn't miss the concert we were going to (I had free tickets because I may end up doing some work for the organization that planned the concert). Next time I think I either need to ask sitter to not do movies or I need to find another sitter who will agree not to default to TV. It's hard with this sitter because she takes on more than one child at once. I think some of her "regulars" are used to movies at her house. I don't know.

But yeah, 10 bucks an hour to watch movies? I could do that myself for nothing. If I wanted to. Which I don't. Hence my irritation.
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#8 of 9 Old 09-02-2010, 12:39 PM
 
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I think it's totally reasonable to make certain demands of sitters. You are paying them! If she's not willing to turn the tv off for a few hours while she is taking care of your child, then you might want to look for another sitter. The idea that TV is a necessity is just bunk.
Is the sitter with other families, too? That's the way I read it. This sitter does drop-in care for the neighborhood. In those cases, I think it's really difficult to control all aspects, but like a pp said, we have paid a premium for sitters because of the "no tv" issue.

Of course, this issue extends to texting and cell phone calls to me. I don't mind the occasional text, but I once came home and was here for a couple of minutes before the sitter we'd had realized it because she was so busy texting. So we fired her. I'm paying you to be at a *job*. If you can't pull away from your phone for the 2 hours you're here, that's a serious problem.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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#9 of 9 Old 09-02-2010, 12:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yep, that's exactly the situation. The sitter is nearly always taking care of other kids at the same time. (Not tons, but maybe one or two others.) One time I dropped my daughter off, the sitter said to the other kids, "Since the weather's a little bad today, I thought we'd pop some popcorn and maybe watch a movie." It was like 65 degrees, for pity's sake. At any rate, I don't think they actually did watch a movie that day because my daughter kept wanting to do other things--craft kits, Groovy Girls, etc. But when the other kids are expecting it, yeah, it does make it more difficult to control it.

The texting would bother me too! If the kids are are asleep or very engaged in another activity then, okay, maybe a quick text or Facebook update or whatever floats your boat. But not all night long, especially at 10 bucks an hour!
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