When my husband and I were dating we decided we would not have a television in our home. Both sets of parents mocked our decision, and my mother said, "Wait til you have kids." As with everything else in my life, I wanted to prove her negative-ism toward me wrong. Anytime we even thought about having a tv, just those words from my mother were enough to stop my thoughts in their tracks.
But I didn't realize that there was another venue besides television that would allow us to watch videos, movies, and even tv shows: the internet--primarily YouTube and Hulu. Sadly, this was introduced to me just after my first daughter was born--this and Facebook. These two "resources" became my sole forms of entertainment in those first several months of adjusting to be "stuck at home" all the time. But we still held to our decision not to have a tv in our home.
We had numerous reasons for our decision. The primary one being that anytime you're in a home with a television, that television is always set up in a spot that makes it the center of attention in the home--and if it's there, it's going to be turned on. It always drove us crazy when either of us was home during school vacations how the tv just seemed to always be on. My husband decided we would never set up a tv as a center focal point of our home or as a primary form of entertainment. (Good goals, right?)
I find it a lame excuse to say that sitting around the tv is quality family time. Quality family time consists of fellowshipping and interacting with one another--this is not done while everyone's eyes are glued to a tv screen. If anything, the opposite happens. Frustration arises when one person rustles in the bag of chips and no one else can hear because they're too noisy. Annoyance takes hold when someone starts to walk from the room and for some reason pauses in front of the tv screen and no one can see. Rather than bonding with one another, family members become contentious.
Another reason was because there is so little good on tv. To define good, I mean something that you don't need to apologize to God for watching or listening to. Why place such a distraction and temptation in our home? Why put something in front of our eyes and ears that we have to so closely monitor? Why not keep that temptation far from us? As I've told my daughter when she likes to walk the line as close to something as she can, "When mommy tells you to stay away from something, you need to stay as far away as you can." We said, "I will put no wicked thing before mine eyes..." Psalm 101:3.
But somehow, that wicked contraption ended up in our home. It's bothered me ever since the day we hooked it up as a tv, but recently it has become a great frustration to me. We were in the market for a new computer monitor, and my husband wanted something bigger. While in WalMart one night he looked at tv sets and found one at a great clearance price, and purchased that as our new monitor. That lasted for a while, but for me it was TOO big to sit so close to it. So it got moved to the living room and was set up as a tv. It seemed pretty innocent since all we get is about 15 channels, and all we watched was PBS. But then we started watching other tv shows recently, and we had some DVDs given to us. The girls wake up an hour apart in the morning, so PBS would keep Emma entertained in the morning. When I have extra work to do around the house and just need to keep them entertained, I pop them in front of the tv. When my husband comes home and needs some extra time to relax, he turns on the tv because it distracts the girls from bothering him. Sunday afternoons they'll sit in front of the tv and enjoy a bowl of popcorn as a snack before church. It almost feels as if we wouldn't be able to function if the tv were taken from our home!
This is what I wanted to avoid. My girls are extremely active and have very active imaginations--they don't need a tv. Yes, it can be educational, but my daughter was doing just fine learning her alphabet and counting before we had a tv. The tv is not to be her teacher!
And what is she seeing and hearing on tv? I'm very careful about what goes in the eye gate of my girls. I also try to be just as careful about what goes in the ear gate. Until recently, I thought I was doing a good job. But a few weeks ago, my three-year-old started saying, "Oh, gunt." It took til the second time she said it to understand she was trying to say something along the lines of, "Oh, gosh." (At least, I thought that's what she was saying. I've realized since then that it's possible that she was just making up a word because that's a new learning phase she is going through.) I talked to her about how some words are not good words to say and that the her God's feelings when we say them. I told her that "gosh" was one of those words and she isn't to say it.
I had honestly never heard that word on any of her shows, but at least twice since then I have heard it and she immediately jumped up and said, "He said 'Oh, gosh,' Mommy. That's a bad word." So while this isn't what I would have chosen, I have used this as a learning tool to tell her that we can't watch things and listen to things that say bad words, and we turn off her show. I've also picked up on the word, "gee" over the last few days. How did I miss this? I'm really not that desensitized, am I? I never watched stuff with cussing or bad stuff in it when I was growing up, so I guess I just assumed I wasn't desensitized to what was on tv.
Due to these circumstances, I've become highly frustrated that we've allowed that tv into our home, and I'm ashamed that I've allowed it to become a focal point and a babysitter for my kids. I hope to rectify this soon. I've only just mentioned this to my husband, so I don't know what our decision will be as far as rectifying this. I know my kids will (dramatically) fall apart without a tv--at least for the first several days. I know I would greatly miss using the tv to allow me to get some things done.
Is it completely wrong to use a tv as a babysitter once in a while? Is it wrong to keep a tv in a home just for an occasional viewing? These and so many other questions keep whirling around in my head. I know the Lord will help us know what to do and what decision to make for our family.
I want so greatly to protect my girls from the wickedness and perversions of this world. Everything that goes in their eye gate they see and for the most part remember--especially when they see the same episode several times! And everything that (again, especially repeatedly) goes in the ear gate, gets repeated. Rather than correcting my child for repeating something that I allowed her to hear, should I not keep her from hearing it in the first place? If we put good into our kids, then they will learn and understand what is good. They will sin plenty because that is their nature. Why must I encourage that sin by placing temptation in front of them?
And this doesn't even touch on the music that they're hearing in the various kids shows that they've seen...