Monday, June 24, 2013

[peaceful parenting] Mama Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barney

Around the time that my daughter was born, a new children’s show was all the rage.  Rage being a key word here as it also produced a LOT of push-back from parents, adults, and older siblings annoyed by the cloyingly saccharine song so famously associated with the show.  

I was one of those parents.  The show and its predominate purple protagonist left me so piqued that I engaged in strategic channel changing and PBS viewing schedules just to avoid exposing her to the show.

My efforts paid off, she never was much of fan.  (She only later learned of the show’s existence when she started preschool.  But always preferred to watch other programs, much to my relief.)

Flash forward to today, and I find myself dealing with the purple menace in a much bigger way.  Declan has, completely on his own, discovered the show via Netflix and Hulu on our tablet computers.  (Oh, if only both of those programs allowed parents to individually filter out certain shows!)  
Here's the techno-savvy lad now

Through no prompting nor training on our part, Declan has learned how to open the tablet, start the appropriate application, switch the application to the kid’s catalog, browse the options, pick a show, and watch it.  He is also very adept at rewinding and replaying key parts, particularly theme songs and musical numbers, over and over again.

Obviously, I’m no fan of some of his choices in viewing material.  My language makes that plain.  So why have I chosen to not only allow him to continue to view these shows, but also defend and support his tastes?

Well, I feel that to do otherwise would be shame him for being himself and expressing his tastes.

As much as I may not be a fan of cavity-inducing children’s music, it does not hurt him at all.  Whereas if I turned the situation from supportive to adversarial, someone must win and someone must lose.  That sort of relationship can cause harm; definitely to our relationship, but also to his developing sense of self.  So, instead of instituting a ban of B-word in this house, I’ve chosen to find acceptance.

Some may find my support to be a bit on the extreme side.  After all, would censoring his exposure from a children’s TV show *really* be that bad?  Honestly, I think that it might.  I’ve decided that my role in his life is to be a partner to him, and that a huge part of my “job” is to be supportive of his interests.  If I start to dismiss his curiosity and interests at this stage, how can I show him that I truly am interested in helping him to explore his world later on?

I’ll admit that this is perhaps a departure from some folks’ views of more conventional parenting.  But I’ll wager that even those people can cite a time in their adolescence when their parents chose to be adversarial at a time when they could have really used support instead.  I know that I can recall a few.  I can even recall moments when I really should have been more supportive of my daughter.

How do you as a parent view your relationship with your children?

On a somewhat related note, Declan has also--on his own--found Family Guy.  In some respects, I think that is almost more annoying than the dentally-challenged T-Rex.  No, it IS more annoying.*

*Yeah, I’m not a fan.  Too formulaic, too sophomoric, not witty enough.

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