Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IWSG: Parental Supervision

Today is IWSG day, a monthly event Alex Cavanaugh started to get writers sharing about their insecurities and other things. On the first Wednesday of the month, a bunch of us gather on the blogosphere to share...First, I just want to thank some of you for the nice comments from my last post. Things are better now. Encountering negativity happens to the best of us. I am moving on....Now onto my post…

Recently, we introduced our children to Charles Schulz’s Peanuts cartoons. Although I loved the Peanuts comics as a child (as well as Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes), it actually has been years since I watched the Peanuts cartoons or holiday specials. I have vague recollections of Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin, the gang enjoying toast and popcorn for Thanksgiving, and Charlie Brown getting a scrawny little Christmas tree…Recently, I was watching excerpts from a Peanuts cartoon with my son and I was reminded of how much more edgy vintage cartoons were compared to some of the sterile children’s cartoons today.

In a moment of parental insecurity, the one where I worry about whether my child would let something negative on TV rub off on them, I began commenting on the morality of the scenes. That’s awful that Charlie Brown missed the football and see… she made him hit his head! It’s not nice to call someone a “blockhead.” Ignoring my comments, my son continued to laugh at what he thought was funny.

Here’s the irony: Sometimes I get annoyed when I observe a parent criticizing the morality of what goes on in a kidlit/YA story. But here I was, doing pretty much that with a cartoon, and one I’d loved as a child at that. So I stopped talking and let my son watch the cartoon in peace.

On another day after that, I worked at my desk as my son watched another Peanuts cartoon by himself. In the middle of the episode, he called to me: “I heard someone say ‘stupid!’ They’re not supposed to say that. It’s a bad word.”

“Yes, it is a bad word,” I called back. “Glad you’re paying attention!”

I was pleased that my son was able to derive his opinion about what was right and wrong about a character’s behavior without my constant interjections. 

That said, parental supervision isn’t a bad thing. Not at all. I think it’s perfectly fine to have conversations with our children about anything in a TV show, movie, song, or book that we feel should be addressed. But I feel we should also give our children space to figure some stuff out on their own too.

What do you think is the right amount of parental supervision children should have regarding their exposure to TV, movies, music, or books? Which cartoons or comics did you enjoy as a child?

12 comments:

TBM said...

That's great that your son was able to recognize the issue on his own. I'm not a parent, but I imagine kids need a mixture of supervision and hands on experience. Finding the right balance must be frustrating, but I admire your dedication.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I think it's a balance on parental supervision vs. letting kids see what is out there. We can't protect them forever. I tended to let my daughter watch things and answer her questions if she had them. She's turned out great.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I'm not a parent, but I think it's about balance and using your best judgement. I would also think it depends on the child and what you think they can really understand, what they can handle, etc.

Pat Hatt said...

A good balance can go a long way, sometimes it depends on context too.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Sometimes the best lessons I learned as a child were from cartoons that showed me how my heroes dealt with the negative things said and done to them -- fewer bruises that way, too. Snoopy, the dreamer, always appealed to me.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

He'll figure it out, Mom. You're leading him right.We watched and read Peanuts and other children's stuff and we turned out all right.

John Wiswell said...

That's a good reflection on how we criticize art intended for kids. Could you imagine how obnoxious it would be to grow up with all your media being strictly moral and aesthetically appropriate? Kids enjoy deviation. If adults can have True Blood and Game of Thrones, surely we can let our kids have their own fantasies.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I think it's okay to make commentary on the things you watch or read together -- open up a conversation about these topics. Do it while they are young, because (at least for girls) they won't tolerate it between the ages of 14 and 17. My older daughter is now open to these conversation again, now that she's 18. The younger daughter -- well, it's like talking to a wall. I can only hope that the conversations we had when she was younger are still guiding her.

C.D. Gallant-King said...

I think it's VERY important to have conversations about these kind of things with kids. My parents didn't have those conversations with me and it's amazing I didn't turn out to be more pscyhotic than I am (though I suppose you can decide for yourself after reading my stuff).

I'm trying to find that balance now with my own kids. I don't want to be too strict and to let them figure stuff out for themselves but I don't want to go too far the other way either. I have friends who watch horror movies with their 3-4 year-olds.

IWSG October

Claire Annette said...

Watching shows and reading books together with our children can lead to great discussions as well as helping them to be more discerning about what they choose to read or watch. I've gone back and watched programs I enjoyed as a child and was surprised by things I didn't remember. I guess I have a selective memory and tend to only remember the good parts.

S.P. Bowers said...

I was just talking to someone about this. I find myself trying to moralize things when I really should just teach my kids and let them draw their own conclusions. Not that I should ignore my kids, they need to know what is right and wrong, but they also need to learn to identify each of those themselves, rather than my telling them.

Sherry Ellis said...

I think it's good to watch what your kids are watching. Some things that don't model stellar behavior can be used as teaching points.

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