03 February 2012

The No-TV rule on weekdays

I might be sending a message here that conflicts with my previouse post. In that entry, I did try to redeem some good points about exposing our young toddler to television. But I also did say that back then Lakay and I had no choice but to give in.

Now our situation here in Belgium is dramatically different, because no matter how busy Lakay and I are as students, the whole job of parenting is solely our own (no more helpers this time). The great thing about it is that we are now more in control of things. And this is where enforcing a no-tv rule on weekdays comes in.

In a much earlier post  I mentioned this rule imposed by my parents on us when we were younger. My mother had multiple reasons for not letting us watch TV from Sunday night to Thursday night-- to save up on household expenses, to help us focus on our studies, and to avoid being badly influenced by the "immoral" values promoted in the shows (these reasons are not necessarily in order). -- It's not that we grew up in an Amish household; I think the concerns of my parents were then just like those of other post-martial law folks. Still even if this rule seemed strange to many, I'd like to think that all five of us ended up ok.

I began to appreciate the effects of this rule when I got older and started living with my own family.
I discovered that I have this certain detachment from the so-called idiot box (at least compared to Lakay who can't help but  switch the TV on while making his morning coffee). When I first moved to Belgium for my studies, I found myself being able to go on for weeks without even yearning for TV. Hoping not to sound moralistic, I simply want to say that I'm glad I can be happy with or without it.

And this is the attitude that I want to develop in my son. I want him to look at TV and other similar gadgets with a certain independence, to look at them not as necessities that we should have with us wherever we go. Lately I noticed that our investment in this rule was starting to pay off.

For instance, I have noted that this young boy has the ability to endure long trips even without the entertainment of a portable DVD player. This is true even after  a tour around Europe with my sister's family last summer, when he seemed almsot addicted to playing with my sister's iPhone. Now since Lakay and I don't  own iphones, my sister was concerned about him,  wondering how he would cope without it when they headed back home. I assured her that he won't even look for it as soon as it's gone. And I was right. He never asked for an iPhone. And in our more recent long travel he easily reverted back to his usual creative way of entertaining himself--with pen and paper, a book, or silly games with Dad.

Another good result of this rule on him is how he treats tv time as a truly rewarding moment (as opposed to one that's merely spent for passing time). Say we now have this established family friday movie night, all three of us snuggled up in the couch, chips and all. And there's this occasional  motivation for doing more  exercises  during homework time, in which I promise to let him watch two episodes of his favorite shows after he gets work done.

One weekend, I told him to switch the TV off after his favorite show.  He promised he would. That was before I drifted off to a nap in the couch. When I woke up a few minutes later, I noticed that the show was about to end. I pretended to be sleeping still, wondering if this boy would keep his promise even if mum's not looking. Without much struggle, he turned the power off then played with his toys.

I smiled gladly to my self. If this rule can teach my son self-discipline, then I'm assured that it can take him a long way. That doesn't make me a bad parent, after all. :)

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