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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I really want to hear all of your thoughts and opinions about unschooling and television usage, from more "conservative" unschoolers all the way to radical unschoolers. How do you handle television in your family?<br><br>
DP and I have never had a tv set or cable in our home, but we're not tv-free. We do sometimes download shows online, to stay away from the commercials etc. And we watch plenty of movies. DD never watched any "television" until recently when a post on soulemama made a link to little bear on youtube. I'd been going through a rough time with DD and thought to myself, hmm, well she unschools and if it's okay with her, it can't hurt while I just do the dishes. And it certainly did help at first!<br><br>
She's become obsessed with little bear, and I'm starting to question how I should handle the television situation. Before hearing about unschooling I thought, "no way, television is addictive and mind numbing and we won't have it"... but as I've come to unschooling I guess I've taken more the perspective that you can find learning everywhere, including in television, and that you should leave things more up to the child. But how much so, I am still unsure of, which is why I want to hear all of your thoughts and opinions.<br><br>
I know there are unschoolers who say you should trust completely in your child and always take them seriously and respect their decisions, and of course there are the radical unschoolers who leave everything up to the child... but if I left it up to her, she'd be watching youtube all day! I do let her watch it, but within the span of a week, literally, it's come to where we can't barely be in the house without her wanting to watch it. My whole day is a <i>constant</i> struggle to distract her from it... with food, art, trips to the park, aquarium, playing outside in the garden, playing with blocks, playing in the bath... but in between every step she wants to watch little bear!! And it's been very difficult to keep her attention without having her try to drag me over to the computer... we've even taken it out of the living room and put it in the spare room so it wouldn't be so "out there", and changed the computer corner into a cozy reading corner for her and got her some new books, but it doesn't seem to matter because it's still on her mind.<br><br>
I vacillate constantly between feeling like I should control it, that it's mind numbing and she should be doing more "enriching" things, to feeling like I should let her be in more control and let her have it if that's what she feels she needs, and who am I to say how much and when she should be watching it? It all feels so arbritary to me... to her it makes no sense why before lunch I say no you can't watch it, then after lunch I let her watch it... I feel wrong even with the words "letting her"... then I snap back in the other direction and say maybe it would just be a lot easier if I just went tv free again! I'm so lost!<br><br>
Opinions?
 

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The Unschooling Handbook had a good chapter about the role of technology in our lives and it seemed very neutral but did a good job at alleviating my anxieties.<br><br>
I think, as a family, we watch too much junk television...especially my almost 4 year old. And he doesn't even watch exclusively educational programming. He likes Power Rangers, Teenage Robot, etc. Crap cartoons, really. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> He likes it on for background noise when playing Legos sometimes.<br><br>
My oldest is almsot 15 and he watches practically no television. He just does not really enjoy it.<br><br>
My middle child is 12 and watches specific shows. He wont turn on the tv and channel surf but he turns it on for Mythbusters, It Takes A Thief, Ninja Warriors, Hell's Kitchen and a few others. He turns it off when the show ends.<br><br>
My point is, they all watch at different levels and for different reasons. ALl of them have established their own patterns and seem to get what they need from it without any negative effect. I am still the parent and i still moniter what they watch (I am probably more lenient than others) and I still discuss things we see and hear that are "conversation starters", as there is a lesson in everything <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
I think you need to follow your gut and remember that too much or too little TV is not really enough to screw the child up or anything, you know? If you are fighting over TV time, maybe she gets something out of it that you don't or that you just dont see. It sounds like a struggle with no true purpose (please dont take that offensively)...in the end, you might win the battle but lose the war.<br><br>
Maybe you need a "schedule" to allow for some tv time for her? I'm sorry i didnt catch her age but is she old enough for a chart of some kind? I used popsicle sticks when the boys were young: one stick for every 30 minutes. In the beginning of the day they got 3 sticks each. When they watch TV they have to turn the stick in to me. Once their sticks were gone, taht was it. It taught them to "budget" their tv time.
 

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We currently have a limit of 1 hour per day. Many days we watch no TV, but she gets no more than 1 hour on any given day. That includes educational programming or otherwise. We will probably waive the restriction for the Olympics, but that's special.
 

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What I have seen is that when a thing is forbidden, or rationed, it becomes more desirable. When I was a kid, if there were 6 donuts in the bag, my mother would announce that each of us kids would get 2 donuts apiece. I'd eat "my" two donuts--even if I didn't want them, even if I was full after one, just because they had been alotted to me.<br><br>
When my oldest was young, I took someone's advice about tv and gave him "coupons" for tv viewing--lest he watch "too much" tv. It backfired. He felt he HAD to find something to watch in order to use up his coupons regardless of whether there was something he wanted to watch or not. AND, my dd,<br>
(who was a toddler at the time with no interest in tv) suddenly wanted her own coupons so that SHE could watch. (That little experiment lasted a matter of days.)<br><br>
I see it with other kids too--regarding tv and a variety of other things that are rationed.<br><br>
We're a family who doesn't set limits on tv/computer, etc.<br>
Sometimes we watch, sometimes not. Sometimes someone gets hooked on a show and they seek it out and spend a lot of time watching. Eventually, their interest fades and they move on to something else. Ditto with the computer and video games. It's been like that since the kids were small. We talk about the shows, we have lots of alternatives to tv, but the choice is up to each individual.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">... but if I left it up to her, she'd be watching youtube all day!</td>
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I wish I had a nickel for every time I've heard this! (Or, "If I left it up to her, she'd eat candy all day.") I think that, if there have been controls on something and those controls are suddenly lifted, then yes, people do go overboard for a bit. And I think there are multiple reasons for this.<br><br>
First, there's the novelty of it. There's also likely a testing ("You mean you're REALLY not going to tell me to stop?") and partly it's because they need to discover their own limits. If they've always been told that "x" is enough, there's going to be a learning curve while they figure out what's really enough for them.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">My whole day is a <i>constant</i> struggle to distract her from it... with food, art, trips to the park, aquarium, playing outside in the garden, playing with blocks, playing in the bath... but in between every step she wants to watch little bear!!</td>
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This sounds confusing. She's allowed to watch youtube, yet you're constantly trying to distract her from it.<br><br>
Maybe the problem is not the tv/computer, but the mixed messages?
 

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We don't have cable. At the beginning, we were paying graduate student loans and we simply could not afford it. Time went by and it never came up. We thought about cable a few months ago, and I even asked folks here, but nobody in our family was super-interested and we cancelled the installation. I led the Cable Charge because I wanted Food Network. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1"> In the end, we decided it was not worth the money & I get FN dvds from the library.<br><br>
The kids also know how to order whatever they want from ILL , and we don't have any controls whatsoever on the computer.<br><br>
I never told my kids they couldn't watch whatever we got on TV which did include PBS. One of my kids went through a Thomas phase and one went throug a Telitubbies phase, but these children don't watch these shows now.<br><br>
I really don't sweat over TV. It;s not an issue. Right now, at 10:13 on a Monday night, all six of us are home and nobody is watching TV.<br><br>
I don't know why. I am the only one on the computer. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/innocent.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shy"> I have no life, obviously. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/cold.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Cold">: The 9, 14, & 16 yr olds are in bed, two reading, one asleep, and the 19 year old just came home from his summer job and is doing laundry and is planning on watching a DVD with his girl friend, who is on her way home from her summer job. My dh is playing his guitar.<br><br>
All this to say Nothing/Nada/ Dank and crapola. lol
 

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It wasn't nothing, nada, dank or crapola <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
It was a very good point!<br><br>
I guess, in my house, actively restricting tv sort of goes against my US philosophy (although I do have filters on the cable box so they cannot access adult programming or certain ratings without me putting in a passcode to unlock it). I don't want my 3 year old spending 4 hours mindlessly drooling in front of cartoons so I actively encourage other things and engage him in activities. But I dont sweat it if he tells me he really wants to watch another episode of Buzz Lightyear.
 

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We really do not set limits. There are days where we all are tired and just want to veg. However, we watch, on a regular basis, not much tv. we only have 1 in the house so eveyone shares. If I see it a great day outside and I will say, "lets go play outside," everyone heads outside, or I will suggest another activity. DD has never had tv rationed so it holds no power. She knows she can come back to it whenever. Unless she is super tired or sick, she would rather do something else.
 

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When we anticipate a long winter weekend, or a snowstorm is predicted, we have been known to race to the library and Blockbuster for flicks to tide us over. All that would be unneccesary with cable. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"> Of course, we do have to negotiate what we will watch, having only the one main TV and another tiny one.<br><br>
Sometimes I wish we didn't have to plan...I do think about the ease of a thousand and one channels. I do. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/innocent.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shy"><br><br>
But it's true the kids never had access to a lot of TV, but they are not forbidden fruit-cakes about it. None of them are big TV watchers, although they all have fav programs.
 

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TiVo is a great thing<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">
 

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We're unschoolers. Mostly radical... <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"><br><br>
We have no cable, or channel reception so DS's viewing is limited to whatever videos we pick out at the library that week and the small selection of movies/programming we own. I like the library route because it puts DS very much in charge of what he watches, he's the broadcaster! And he's VERY picky! We don't limit how much or when he watches unless it interferes with some other family routine/outting/appointment, etc.<br><br>
DS delves deep into whatever he's "into" at the moment and will tend to want his whole life to revolve around whatever that is. What this means essentially is that when he goes to pick out videos/DVDs, he tends to pick ones that support where he's at at the time. If it's wild animals he wants some 'David Attenborough' and 'National Geo,' and for the fiction side, "Charlie, the Lonesome Cougar" or "Ring of Bright Water." If it's dinosaurs, he wants "Walking With Dinosaurs" with a side of "Land Before Time" (which makes me gag a bit but I can take it). Aside from that, he'll opt to see a movie version of a book/s we've read (A Series of Unfortunate Events, James and the Giant Peach), or wish to check out a movie a friend told him about, or choose an old favorite (KiKi's Delivery Service, Toy Story). He really appreciates DVDs with special features... movies he likes that have "making of" features in them. He loves all the back story and ALL the details of what went into making the movies, sketch boards, animation, CGI, the lot.<br><br>
In general, DS doesn't watch much TV. If something really catches his interest he might obsess on it for a few days and I let him because I know once he's seen it a few times, he'll relax and want to "play" it more than watch. Because he will watch a lot one day, a little the next and then not watch at all (or very little) for days at a time, it's not always easy to assess how much he's watching. A few years ago I got curious and actually kept meticulous track (without him knowing, just for my own information) for several weeks. The average for DS was about 6-12 hours per week. And for a kid who is home all day, I figured that was way more hours DOING rather than watching so it was at this point, I went ahead with my instincts and relaxed totally about tv, limits and all.<br><br>
My .02 for whatever it's worth. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
Em
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>SagMom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11537811"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Maybe the problem is not the tv/computer, but the mixed messages?</div>
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Good point. And thanks everyone for all your responses... it has made me feel a lot more at ease. I just sometimes really second guess myself... there are always the people who say tv is like a drug, that it causes ADHD, etc, and for the longest time I've had a negative association with television. My younger brother, who is six, has always watched a ton of television and it always sort of bothered me, and he had speech problems (didnt really communicate effectively until he was around 4) that I always wondered if it had anything to do with his excessive tv watching... of course, could be a million other things really. Whenever DP and I go visit now though he would always rather be doing something like swimming or playing transformers hehe.<br><br>
I think what bothered me most about it was that my parents would plop him down in front of the tv and not be with him at all, like doing something in the other room, or be eating a family meal while he watched television. Maybe it all had to do with the arbitrary rationing- that is something else that has always bothered me- the arbritary authority that the parents lay down about it... like "right now it's ok to watch television, but suddenly I feel like putting my foot down, and I can, because I'm the parent!" or being strict about it and then the whole just giving into it in a lazy moment...
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Stinkerbell</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11538142"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">It wasn't nothing, nada, dank or crapola <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
It was a very good point!<br><br>
But I dont sweat it if he tells me he really wants to watch another episode of Buzz Lightyear.</div>
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LOL Thanks.<br><br>
My sister & her dh have cable and I take care of their baby (2) while they work. He's a very cute thing -- sweet and smart and gentle. He's seen various programming and knows who "pi'man' is. He might know of the character (although he has not seen the movies) , but it doesn't change his sweet and easy-going nature. My sister is so relaxed about things, and imo, her kid benefits. He even knows Curious George and I have not seen any negative ramifications whatsoever. He is calm & focused. Gentle. Verbal. Just really sweet and observant.<br><br>
A few weeks ago at our place, he asked to watch " Find Nemo" and we put in our dvd of it. He said "Watch shahks' and so we ff it to the shark part. He watched it and was done. He's a cute kid. But what can I say? My sister even lets him eat Teddy Grahms and Goldfish crackers at times. Of course he will also easily eat raw basil and parsely from my spring garden.<br><br>
I told her she is the fist person in our family to escape passing her massive mental baggage onto her kid. Not that anyone wants to hear that relaxed parents without massive toy, food and TV restrictions are raising relaxed and healthy kids. lo l He's EBF, CD''d, intact (for those who care), and was born naturally in the tub. The other day at the market, he wanted a 1.99 Venom/Batman toy and *she bought it*. lol I am sure he's on his way to beng a serial killer now.<br><br>
My little sister teaches me good stuff every single day.
 

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We do not limit tv here. My 4yo watches more then my 2yo. He is my computer/tv kid but the 2 yo would rather go off and play often alone. However my 4yo also has days where he does not watch much. He will also watch something and then transfer it into the rest of his day. For instance we made a remote from the upside down show one day while watching it and spent like 3 days straight being "controlled" by the remote. I would hear things like "mom I gotta go potty press the potty button" Crazy kid! LOL! He cracks me up!
 

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I know that some may disagree, but personally, I think that it matters that we're talking about a 19 month old here, not an older child.<br><br>
I don't let my under-2 self-regulate for television. My 4 year old seems quite capable of self-regulating regarding TV: that is, he knows when he feels he's had enough, and is able to refuse it and/or walk away from it. But my toddler can spend all day mesmerized by the magic blinky box; and I'm not entirely convinced that doing so is good (or even not harmful) for his developing brain and mind.<br><br>
I've found that, when we end up watching/putting on the TV on a fairly regular basis as part of our family's daily activity, the baby ends up being drawn to it and wanting to watch it a lot more. Whereas if we decide to close up the TV cabinet and only use it minimally/rarely, he becomes perfectly fine with not watching, and starts getting re-engaged in the rest of life again. Whether or not he'd eventually get to that point of being able to pull himself away from the box himself, or limit his use of it to developmentally healthy levels, I can't be sure; but personally, I'm unwilling to make that experiment with my 20 month old's brain. This is too highly a developmentally critical period in his life for completely unlimited, copious amounts of TV-watching to be within my comfort level as his parent.<br><br>
So, while we don't have any hard, distinct rules or limits set on television useage (ie, "half an hour a day", or what have you), I do decide that it's "enough", or that I'd rather us not watch television very much in general (because if we're watching it, and our toddler's not napping/asleep, he's watching it too), or that we're not going to watch right now. We'll close up the cabinet, and leave it closed, and find other things for us to do instead, even if the baby indicates that he'd like to open it up and turn it on sometimes. And I find our family's life is healthier overall when we do so.
 

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We had unlimited TV and unlimited sugar while I was growing up. There were NO restrictions on either and I think we suffered greatly for this. I still struggle with food issues. TV is not an issue for me. I cut it out of my life at 18.<br><br>
I think everyone reacts to their upbringing in different ways. There are no guarantees how your child will respond no matter what parenting style you choose. My different responses to two unlimited junk activities shows this.<br><br>
We do not watch TV in our house so our 2.5 year old doesn't watch it either. He sometimes gets to watch U-tube of things we are introducing him to--like balance bikes. He knows no other kids who ride those so that was his learning experience.<br><br>
As he get older, I will apply restrictions if I think TV (or sugar, or computers, or whatever) is getting out of control. If he can self-regulate then fine. If he is getting lost in a less than positive experience, I will intervene. I see that it is my job to keep him away from poison ivy, drain cleaners, and too much TV. I want him to look back at his childhood and think of playing with chickens and riding bikes. (I wish I had more than the rare memory of those things.) An occasional fun movie is fun. Just like an occasional ice cream cone is fun. But a constant diet of either is not okay, in my opinion. If he grows up to be a TV junkie, that will be his choice, but at least his childhood will be more balanced.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Milakais</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11538884"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">But my toddler can spend all day mesmerized by the magic blinky box;</div>
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Just to be clear, "self-regulating" doesn't mean sitting a baby down in front of the tv all day until he comes up with something better to do.<br><br>
Our own limits will be individual, but learning them doesn't need to be done without input from anyone else. Just as unschooling doesn't mean hands-off parenting, parents can help their kids with media/food/clothing etc. decisions. It's just that helping them find their own comfort level will be different than instilling the parent's comfort level on the child.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>SagMom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11539965"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Just to be clear, "self-regulating" doesn't mean sitting a baby down in front of the tv all day until he comes up with something better to do.</div>
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I didn't say that I just sit my baby down in front of the TV all day until he comes up with something better to do. I'd appreciate being given a little more credit than that.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>SagMom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11539965"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">It's just that helping them find their own comfort level will be different than instilling the parent's comfort level on the child.</div>
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Right. And I'm unwilling to abdicate my comfort level about what I consider healthy for my toddler in regards to electronic media. This is simply not a decision that my 20 month old gets to make; his "comfort level" (ie, him liking it) does not trump mine (ie, me being concerned about his health and development) in this case.<br><br>
I realize that that's not necessarily a "Radical Unschooling" perspective, but I'm fine with that. I don't claim to be a "radical unschooler"; I consider myself to be an unschooler more in the original John-Holt-esque sense than the RU derivative. But the original poster said that she was interested in responses and perspectives from all types of unschoolers, not just RUers. Regardless of if some extrapolate the unschooling philosophy to such levels, things such as unlimited TV consumption by infants, and/or allowing other things that you are genuinely uncomfortable with or don't consider healthy for your children, is not a core tenet of what it means to be an unschooler.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>granola_mom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11537165"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">My whole day is a <i>constant</i> struggle to distract her from it... with food, art, trips to the park, aquarium, playing outside in the garden, playing with blocks, playing in the bath... but in between every step she wants to watch little bear!!</div>
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I do agree that the mixed message may be confusing to her or complicating the matter, or at least that coming from a perspective of constantly distracting her is likely very wearying for you.<br><br>
Personally, I'd just be honest with her. If you don't feel comfortable with her watching as much Little Bear as she's been doing, just come out and admit that to her straight-out. Relate to her as you would any other human being whom you were having a difficulty with: give her the respect of being honest about your feelings, rather than always trying to distract her without letting her know how you really feel and letting her wonder why you're always trying to draw her away from this thing that she likes. Just clear the air. It's okay to explain that, while you're okay with her watching some Little Bear (if you indeed are), that you need her to do so in moderation and not watch it as much. She may be receptive to this feedback, or she may not like it, but at least you've let her know where you stand. Then, keep doing the other fun things you've been doing, at a pace and frequency that's comfortable and sustainable for you... but do them because they're fun things to do together, not because you feel like you have to distract her and keep her away from the ever-present lure of Little Bear. If you really don't feel comfortable with her watching that much, you don't have to run yourself ragged to avoid it; it's okay to simply (and nicely) say "No" or "Not now" sometimes.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Milakais</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11540473"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I<br><br>
comfortable with her watching that much, you don't have to run yourself ragged to avoid it; it's okay to simply (and nicely) say "No" or "Not now" sometimes.</div>
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I have to respect a woman who edits to fix a mistyped pronoun.<br><br>
We are not way rad RUs, either. I can't say that I am sorry we've never done a boatload of TV watching, esp when the kids were little.<br><br>
That doesn't mean that I'm not ready for cable now, of course. 24 Hours of Food Network. mmmm...Food Network.
 
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