This morning, I sat at breakfast with one of my children's old teachers and dear friends, Ms. Kristine. We caught up, discussing life and got on the subject of family. Kristine and I often exchange various stories about our similar-in-age girls. Something was different today... unfamiliar. As we chatted about the new challenges we see our oldest girls face, we realized that we are out of our elements. Both of us know child development 0-6 like the back of our hands, but now that our girls are 7 and 8 years old, we are in uncharted territories--and to be honest, we're scared. The good thing is that there are plenty of resources + great conversations that will help us down this next leg of the journey. More to come on this in the future.
As I drove home from my double Belgian Waffle, egg whites, chicken sausage and fruit (I thought I only ate the double waffle when I was pregnant... but I'm not and it was delicious!), I started to think more deeply about family. I thought about my own upbringing and how I used to watch tv with my parents at night: Family Matters, The Cosby Show (yikes, I know... it was still a great show), Doogie Howser, M.D., Full House, etc. I remember learning about many "older subjects" while watching these shows, feeling safe and having the support of my parents to explain, shield my ears, turn off, or do anything that needed to follow a scene. I compared this to how we watch tv with our children: they have their shows on their apps and we have ours. They watch their shows while we do our things around the house (sometimes sitting with them), and we watch our shows when they are asleep or not in the room. I thought this was the right thing to do because I can limit and monitor what they watch, deciding what would keep them innocent and protected from the things I didn't want them exposed to--#modernparenting. A few weeks ago, while watching my favorite show, Blackish, I thought to myself, "I wish I could watch this with my daughter! There are some great values that are reinforced... But no, there's bad language, and I don't want her to think she can dress like the older kids on the show, and I'm not ready for her to learn about _______..." As I drove home from breakfast with Kristine, I started to contemplate watching family shows with my husband and kids. Here's why: 1) I cannot control everything my children see and hear when they are out of the house. If I am with them in a "controlled" environment, allowing them to be exposed to more than Mighty Express and Sidney to the Max, I can do my job as a parent to navigate through the array of themes together. 2) I can help them understand that though so-and-so said a bad word, it's because s/he was mad. However, we know lots of other words that are appropriate to use when we're upset. Or, so-and-so has a cell phone (my daughter is obsessed) because their parents allow them to have one. You will get a cell phone when it is the right time for you to need one because you'll be out of the house more and need to have a way to reach us/be reached. 3) I don't want the world outside of our house to be the main source of street-smarts for my children. Open dialogs will hopefully create a space of trust and respect between our children and us (the parents). Of course, I don't want my children to partake in poor choices, but they're going to. My desire, which is something I couldn't do with my parents, is that they will have the confidence to come to my husband and me to talk about things.
So, break out all of the prime time shows! We're going to get through them all! No... We will pick and choose which shows, episodes, or parts to help our children make sense of their world, AND we will view them together. Sheltering children from real life themes, especially the scary ones, is an obstacle to their full development.