How do you address others' protestations? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 04-04-2008, 12:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm talking about when parents say they "need" TV to get things done - make a healthy lunch or dinner, pay the bills, take a shower, have some downtime, whatever. I don't want to negate their reality, but obviously it is possible to do those things without TV (or do they think we never do those things??). My standard reply is to make sympathetic noises and nod my head understandingly - but part of me feels like I should take those moments as opportunities for advocacy, or at least education. Not that I think everyone NEEDS to be TV-free, or that I'm a better parent than they are because it's not in our parenting toolbox, and I don't want to be pushy or obnoxious, but... I don't want to be a doormat, either, y'know? I don't want to tell them they "should" be doing things differently (or that TV-free parents are some kind of saint), but I don't want to perpetuate the belief that TV is required for parenting either.

Fortunately, I move in a circle of friends who do use limited TV for the most part, not generally for several hours a day, so it's not like I feel their children are being significantly damaged by the amount they do watch TV, and they generally know TV-free is an option, so it's not a major issue, or that if I don't say anything they'll never be exposed to the idea. But I still feel like I'm accepting some kind of insult or pedestal when I say nothing.

So what do you do?
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#2 of 14 Old 04-04-2008, 12:39 AM
 
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I don't think people need to hear about watching less television. There's enough things to worry about, yknow? Just model what you do without saying anything. Or maybe a gentle insert into the conversation. My kids watch very little tv, but I also don't get everything done all the time. I have given up on that
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#3 of 14 Old 04-04-2008, 12:42 AM
 
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When people say that kind of stuff to me I reply with something along the lines of "Well, my girls love doing puzzles and word searches. They're just starting to write stories and they're always coming up with new dances and performances. When I'm busy, so are they."

I don't think there's anything wrong with sharing what the other side of life is like.
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#4 of 14 Old 04-04-2008, 10:52 AM
 
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It's a fine line. I for one don't feel like it's my place to judge someone else in the way they parent. I would expect the same respect from my friends.

It doesn't come up much for us as we are a Waldorf family and mostly surrounded by Waldorf friends. However, I have heard it and I just listen sympathetically.
The most I would ever say is something self deprecating about how they are a whole lot more organized and their house is probably a whole lot tidier than mine.
If asked directly what we do, I'd happily share though!
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#5 of 14 Old 04-04-2008, 11:01 AM
 
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Vaguely sympathetic noises and nods if they are telling me that they *need* the TV during specific activities.

If they ask me what my kids do/ask "So how do you take a shower with two little ones?" only then will I elaborate - but I don't volunteer and I actually don't engage in the TV-free spiel unless specifically asked. I know I could be spreading the good word, but I deliberately choose not to unless asked.

People know why it's not desirable without me elaborating. Usually.

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#6 of 14 Old 04-04-2008, 02:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Those thoughts are why I just make sympathetic noises. And it's not about judging the other person, it's about the twinge in my conscious when I hear an unfactual statement and basically agree with it. Now, it's not entirely unfactual, because that IS their reality - TV is how they get things done. The way their life is set up, they need it. I totally understand that. But it's like when I hear someone say "Oh I HAVE to use a bottle so my husband can feed her" or "I HAVE to pump for when we're in public"... well, that may be your reality, and your comfort zone, but it's not really an objective fact. Y'know what I mean?

In general I absolutely believe in modeling, and that people will work on their own lives as they need or want to, and I don't have a monopoly on what's "best". I'm hardly perfect. I don't think people are bad if they're not trying to be like me. But I don't like agreeing with falsehoods, either. It's not comfortable for me.

Am I making any sense to anyone?
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#7 of 14 Old 04-04-2008, 11:27 PM
 
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I think I see what you're saying, Arwyn.

At the same time, though -- if the other person knows you're TV-free, she *knows* you're managing to do the very things she's claiming can't be done without TV, without it. (Apologies for that wretched sentence construction!)

I think making small noises of sympathy or assent in that situation is sort of a way to let the other person feel comfortable in the moment while she (or am I being optimistic?) works through the idea that here you are, doing what she thinks is impossible -- and maybe she can, too.

[Of course, it may just be that she thinks you're a nutbar and isn't giving an iota of consideration to how you're living your life because it's so outside anything she'd consider. (I think this is how the mamas I know IRL look at my TV-free decision, anyway.)]

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#8 of 14 Old 04-05-2008, 12:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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No, I think you're right. I'll continue with the sympathetic noises.
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#9 of 14 Old 04-05-2008, 07:38 PM
 
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I generally don't agree or disagree. I say something like, "oh, I see" or "that's interesting" or something. Or I say, "oh, yeah, I could never get anything done without ___" and say something like, my moby wrap or having DD play with the dog, or something. Then I'm offering an alternative without seeming to preach, you know? You're also saying that you're human and you also need to have your kids occupied while you do things, too, even though you do it differently. So it doesn't sound like you're judging.
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#10 of 14 Old 04-05-2008, 07:47 PM
 
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Just wanted to say that I in no way meant to imply that I think you are judging the TV watching mothers! I meant that I would feel judging if I got into that conversation.
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#11 of 14 Old 04-05-2008, 10:57 PM
 
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But, for some people it is genuinely NOT a falsehood. Agreed, it is very few, but there ARE people who need to bottlefeed because their husbands need to help (if mom works, or is sick, etc.). There are moms out there that have a lot on their hands. There are moms out there with very little or no support which does not allow them a minute to themselves (literally). There are moms out there struggling with sick children, or who are themselves sick or in need of help. There are moms who are even just going through a rough patch with a new baby or with a spouse and need a little time and no one can help with the older kids. There are kids with very high needs that really DO make it impossible to shower or make dinner without "help". Would I judge these women for a half hour of age appropriate TV while they take care of their needs? Absolutely not. How could I? Is it the most optimal situation? Of course not. But you do the best with what you have, and sometimes its not perfect. So, I don't judge. Only THEY really know if it is something they need...

So obviously, most everyday things by everyday parents CAN be done without TV babysitters, but it is also really hard to know what is going on in someone else's house. If it seems that they are open to hearing something else, I gently say "Oh, I try and set up DS with some crayons for when I shower..." or "I've been getting DS to 'set the table' while I cook..." and laugh and use it as a change to casually share vs "spread the word". And then, if they do not seem like they are really looking for non TV ideas, I sympathetically nod. Who knows? In their shoes I might feel the same way.
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#12 of 14 Old 04-05-2008, 10:59 PM
 
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You raise good points. I was definitely thinking only of moms situated similarly to myself. [What? Everyone out there isn't exactly like me?! ]

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#13 of 14 Old 04-05-2008, 11:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, I reject the idea that one ever NEEDS to use TV (which makes the bottle analogy imperfect, like all analogies), but I certainly don't blame or judge people for having it in their toolbox - only they can decide if it's worth it, and I certainly understand that it very may well be, whether or not I would make the same decision in their place.
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#14 of 14 Old 04-05-2008, 11:48 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arwyn View Post
Well, I reject the idea that one ever NEEDS to use TV (which makes the bottle analogy imperfect, like all analogies), but I certainly don't blame or judge people for having it in their toolbox - only they can decide if it's worth it, and I certainly understand that it very may well be, whether or not I would make the same decision in their place.
Of course not- no one NEEDS TV... but for parents with no other tools in their toolbox, no other support or resources, it may become an only (or best) option for lack of any other.

My 3 year old son had minor surgery about 6 months ago. He was in pain, on some heavy meds, and had to stay in bed for 3 days (a challenge for any toddler). We read every story. We played quietly. We rocked. We sang. But ya know, a one hour Winne the Pooh video allowed him to relax and me to do the laundry and make dinner at a time when he really couldn't find a way to entertain himself and I needed a bit to recharge. Could we have lived without TV? Absoultely. Do I feel I compromised my beliefs or damaged him? No way. It was the best we could do at that time when we had no other family around to help at a really hard time. I remember feeling that way and so I try to remember that some people live with situations similar to this every day...
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