Do You Let Your Kids Watch?

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.  Here’s this week’s column:

“Chirpity chirp!” went my phone alerting me to a text message.

Nothing like interrupting a special moment with my kid with what turned out to be a heavy philosophical question about parenting.

There I was a couple weeks ago, snuggled up on the couch watching TV with my daughter when I heard my phone chirpity chirp. The text was from the mother of one of my daughter’s close friends. “Do you let your daughter watch ‘The Bachelor?’” she wanted to know.

Have you ever wanted to turn around see if someone is spying in through your den window? I did at that moment because it turns out I happened to be cuddled up on the couch with my daughter watching, you guessed it, “The Bachelor.”

And so opens up that challenging can of worms—What do you let your kids watch on TV?  We might as well be modern grownups about this. It’s not just TV. It’s also books, movies, video games, websites and various apps.

So, it’s out there, my choice that I’m sure many parents will not agree with. Not only do I let my daughter watch “The Bachelor,” I watch it with her.

Not sure how this happened, but overnight my sweet girl seemed to go from a kid who’s idea of great TV was a Disney Channel marathon to a teenager who loves shows and other media that celebrate romance.

I’m thinking she sees love, boys and potentially salacious content.

I see a red carpet invitation to talk about men, boys, dating and relationships.

Now that I’m on this side of marriage, it rather shocks and appalls me that the way most of us women date has nothing to do with finding an awesome husband.

It took me well into my 40’s to figure this out. When I look at my husband and his fine qualities that I so admire that truly make for a happy, loving family life, I want to slap my younger self upside the head.

“Silly, silly girl!” I would say. “It’s not about chasing bright shiny pieces, about power, about the biggest personality in the room.”

It’s about finding a man who rushes home to be with his family, who provides, who loves being a dad, to name a few things I hope will one day be on my daughter’s shopping list.

I do talk about this in places like the dinner table and the car where I find they are usually met with squirms and perhaps an occasional roll of her eyes.

But in the context of discussing “The Bachelor,” my daughter gobbles up my insights like talking NFL with a rabid sports fan.

“Desiree only likes Brooks because she’s chasing the one guy who’s not that into her,” I share.  “Look at how Chris is with his family. That’s a really nice trait.”

“How do you know when it’s really The One?” she asks digging for more relationship talk rather than trying to get away.

As hard as it is for my daughter to believe, I, too, was once 14. I remember gobbling up Judy Blume books and TV shows and movies that celebrated romance. I remember the hunger for more.

You might have a different take, prefer to keep your kids in a bubble. I figure with media as pervasive as it is today, my kid is probably going there, so how about we go together and share the sites along the way.

But I’d love to hear your take–What and how do you let your kids watch?



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Do You Let Your Kids Watch?

by DarynKagan time to read: 3 min
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