Thursday, January 31, 2008

Good Bye T.V... I Want My Life Back

I wrestle with so many things with "fuzzy" lines of morality. Homeschool vs public, secular music, tv. If only you could step inside my head for a moment, you would understand the constant state of turbulence it is in. While I can so easily slip into legalism, I can also fall the other way too.

For most of our married life, my husband and I didn't have a TV. We stood against what we knew it would do to our minds, and the minds of our children. Well, we all have weak moments, and last Spring we decided to get the Dish. It all started harmlessly with us wanting to hear the news (our local paper is quite insufficient). Last summer, I got a phone call offering a special 3 month trial on a "package" programing. Tempted by the bargain, and my desire to watch the Travel channel I agreed. What's the harm in three months? Right?

Six months later, we not only still have these channels, but we have made TV our family hobby. We used to read, talk, play games, and explore the outdoors. Our time as a family knitted us together, it kept us unique. Now, the second my husband gets home the TV goes on, and stays on until bed. Even our weekends have slowly started to have the TV fill it's hours.

Our sensitivity has gone way down to the terrible things it indoctrinates us with. We used to be disgusted with most programs, and turn them off. Now I hear words and ideals my children should never hear, being force feed to them while us, their parents sit iddley by.

Today, I got rid of the TV. Not the literal box, it sits silently in my living room, closed behind hutch doors, but it's forced content is gone. Not even local channels come in, and I couldn't be happier.

My conviction to get rid of it started the day I got it. Sadly, it took evidence of rotting fruit to get me to act on that conviction. Now, like a weight lifted off my shoulders, it is gone! Obedience feels good.

Before I go, I want to share with you a comment that really spoke to me from my last post.

When I was very young, we didn't have television. When we finally got it, there were few shows on and a lot of dead time where the television, if turned on, looked like snow. It was really a novelty and when used, it was a family event, not something to keep boredom at bay.

When I was a kid, we used our imaginations (a lot). I remember being engrossed in digging a hole to China (for days!) We would put our ears to the ground and convince each other that we could hear people speaking Chinese. I remember building a city for fairies to live in. I remember looking for four leaf clovers for hours on end. I remember hop scotch, jacks, marbles, and jumpropes.

I remember mud pies, daisy chains, and setting a trap to catch squirrels (never did catch one but almost did a few times). We made bug hospitals and I remember playing hide and seek with all the kids in the neighborhood after dark on warm summer evenings. I remember snow forts, sledding, and snowball fights.

When it was too cold to be outside, I remember listening to the radio (They didn't have talk shows but they had comedy skits and stories and I could close my eyes and listen to more than just music). I wrote poetry and stories, we created plays and put together circus acts. I still remember painting baloons black to look like huge barbells and making a lion's mane out of an old dust mop my mom had.

We spread a blanket over the dining room table and made a fort. We took all the cushions off the furniture and pretended they were boats floating on a sea of carpet. We took an old mattress and spent hours sliding down the basement stairs on it. It was just as fun as sledding and much warmer. Cardboard boxes were turned in to cars, airplanes and doll houses.

As I got older, I learned to bake cookies and bread and took them to neighbors. I had embroidery projects that I could work on. I put models together and painted them. We pretended we were secret agents and left secret messages for each other. Oddly enough, one of the last times I went home for a reunion, we talked about this and checked our hiding place and found the last (secret agent) message we had created still in that spot.

All of these things were done with a sense of wonder. Anything was possible when I was a child.

Television, the internet, and video games have changed all that. Our children are being forced to grow up too fast and because they are inundated with "reality" they aren't being given a chance to develop their imagination. I think it's kind of tragic that our children can't think of anything to do if it doesn't entail something that entertains them. Instead, they should be learning to entertain themselves.

What's really sad is that if you mention most of these activities to kids today, they will turn their noses up and say that it doesn't sound fun to them. That's what a loss of innocense does.

Well, enough from an old woman, I'm going to step off my soapbox and go visit my fairy village. ~ GG



Emily said...

I could have wrote this post. And how bad is it that we're holding out until at the Superbowl is over? haha. And this flu goes away....So give me a week or two, but I'm right behind ya.

t.v. sucks me in at night and I'm sure that my husband would much appreciate that I cuddle up w/ him while he sleeps than need to watch Frasier re-runs.

Enjoy the peace!

Cindy-Still His Girl said...

Can't wait to hear what fun you fill your time with now! :) Way to be strong, girl.

About your sentence "...'fuzzy' lines of morality. Homeschool vs public, secular music, tv."

I think I know what you mean, but I don't believe that homeschool/public, tv, etc are MORAL issues. Choices, sure. But homeschooling is no more "moral" than public school. Music in and of itself isn't a moral issue. Choosing music that reflects our morals, of course, but music isn't amoral.

TV does have a way of sucking us in, doesn't it? I should totally give it up too. But I must admit I'm looking forward to LOST tonight. :) Bad girl.

ConservaChick said...

Hmm, I might have phrased that better. I WAS talking about my choices with in these challenging areas. They are not always clear. I mean Do you steal a car or don't you? THAT is a pretty easy moral line. The plethera of choices opened up in T.V., and music, and public schools, are not always to clear. Do I let my child attend the dance? Do I watch American Idol with my kids as the rejects yell B*#@ch at the camera? Do I listen to the country song that confesses a love for God AND Jack Daniels? These are the fuzzy lines of morality.

You are right that homeschooling is no more "moral" than public school, BUT public school DOES present us with far more immoral choices and temptations than homeschool. Sometimes you can handle it, sometimes you can't.
An eye is not immoral, but Christ says if it causes you to sin, you pluck it out! ~K

PS. Uh, so I guess we agree, right?

His Girl said...

We gave up television in 1991 and never looked back. results? less greedy kids (no commercials to watch) who read GRADE LEVELS above the national average, and a family who has a mother who doesn't watch endless junk on tv (that's me! I can't be trusted!)

also, a bit of naivety preserved for just a little longer. (for my kids too!)

javamamma said...

Enjoy life without the 'tube'. We have one, and with multiple channels thanks to Dish Network but the tv is in the basement and it's amazing how little we watch it. My messy house is proof that my kids are not glued to the screen. Sometimes I wish they were. ;)

Robin said...

those of us who just have local tv reception-rabbit ears- are faced with the decision to purchase converter boxes or stop having tv reception by this time 2009. We are thinking about just not having tv anymore. My hOney came home from an out of town work trip and commented he had cable in his hotel room for 3 nights and that confirmed to him all the gargage he was not willing to pay for! This post has challenged me to join my hOney in considering not having tv in our home anymore.
So,I raise my coffee cup and toast you for following the less traveled path-I'm sure you'll be more at peace for it!

EEEEMommy said...

We've found a balance. We have cable, but most of the time the tv stays off. And my kids DO a lot those things that GG mentioned. Personally, I attribute it to our homeschool and giving the kids plenty of free time to just play. But even when I was growing up (and in public school) we did a lot of these same things too. I know this post wasn't intended to put me on the defensive, and I'm not sure why I feel that way. Perhaps it's because I tire of the "kids these days" comments. Part of me wants to jump up and down with my hand waving in the air saying, "Not me, not my kids, not all kids." There are still kids out their who haven't lost their sense of wonder and who have vivid imaginations, and who can entertain themselves!
But this isn't about me. Good job heeding the Spirit's conviction and canceling cable. It's no easy feat!

ConservaChick said...

You really shouldn't be on the defensive. While your kids still have a sense of wonder, they ARE in the minority. You should be proud that you are raising your children that way, but the "kids these days" comments are quite true, and much needed by MOST of our socieity. The norm IS video games and T.V.

There is a lot of wisdom in GG's comment. While you might feel great right where you are at, I found her comment timely and profoundly encouraging.

Javamamma, If I had your self control, I'd keep my cable! But why is it, that even though my kids watched a TON of T.V., my house was still messy? So Not FAIR!

Anonymous said...

Karlie, after reading eeeemommy's comments I had to laugh. I can still hear the shaky voice of some "old woman" saying "These kids today!" or "In my day!". It used to fry my bacon to hear these comments! How dare they compare me or my kids to themselves? They don't even know me!.

Oh and to have it thrown back in my face was a wonderful blessing and a great lesson.

Now I'm on the other side and all I can say in defense is that if you've been on the road long enough, you get a really good idea of where you've been and can see much clearer where you're going.

I never meant to say all kids have lost their imagination. I'm just seeing the trend and believe me, While "progress" can be wonderful (I'd hate to give up electricity or washing machines), there's always a price to pay - ALWAYS.

I've also been the mindless blob, sitting on the couch, watching the tube and then wondering what I had been watching before someone started trying to sell me toothpaste. I would love to have the hours I've wasted on TV back.

I spend at least 10 hours every working day on the computer and it's one of my jobs to manage the company website. (I get over 1000 spam mails a day on my office e-mail that takes me an hour to go through each day - and these are the ones that got through the spam blocks! (wasted time let me tell you)

I'm fully entrenched in the computer age BUT is it really progress? I look at what we've lost - what is slowly seeping away from our society and I really can't call it that.

So Kudos to you for turning off the tube! I'll be excited to hear what you and your family do with all that wonderful, glorious time.

EEEEMommy said...

Thanks, K & GG!
I do see the wisdom in your comments! :)

Gayle @ thewestiecrew said...

We keep our tube off all day, but it is turned on at night many times.
We did the same thing that you did...went without cable for-ever, but then 2 years ago we got direct tv. It hasn't been that bad for us because we really watch a ton of History, and Discovery, ect. :)

Alana said...

Good for you! I remember in college I didn't have a TV and I never missed it. We have one, but we limit usage. Hope you enjoy your newfound family time!

Christin said...

OH YEAH OH YEAH OH YEAH. Crazy enough, I'm in the middle of writing a post about this very thing. don't we seem to always be on the same spiritual brain wave though? :)

TV is just not what it used to be. These days it's all about disrespecting your husband, sleeping around, and dishonoring everyone in authority. sad.

and how is it we consider this entertainment?

I'm REALLY proud of you for getting rid of it! You guys playing a game tonight? :)

Mrs. Darling said...

Good for you. That is what Paul means when he speaks of throwing aside everything that hinders us from running the race.

Stephanie said...

I decided to come over and check out your blog after you commented on mine.

I just recently did a post on restricting my tv time in the evenings. I am definitely one of the people who get sucked in and "addicted" to the television. Besides the news programs, I have cut my tv time down to 1 hour each night - and it's a daily struggle! And I saw my son (3 years old) getting into the same pattern. If I turned cartoons on in the morning while I was fixing breakfast, he would sit in front of the tv until I finally had to make the move and turn it off for him. I saw that and it scared me! Because I didn't want him to get in a habit of it like his mother and struggle with it like I am now. I want him to enjoy the things I did when I was a kid, a lot of the things GG mentioned! I want my kids to be free in their imaginations!
And I actually did mention to my husband about completely cancelling our cable all together so I could resist temptation - and help out our budget at the same time. I'm still working on winning him over on the idea though. Hopefully reading this post will keep me fired up about it!

CrossView said...

We've been without cable/satellite for almost 8 years. Ours wasn't a moral decision, though that benfit is there. Ours was simply because we were all too addicted to it.

We decided to try it for just a bit. Then a bit longer. And we still have those moments when we think maybe....

But we are pathetic when we go to my mom's. We start calling dibs on the remote before we're even there... =P

Nessa said...

Most TV sucks the good out of people and relationships. We are all TV babies, the TV used to baby sit us while our parents worked.

Now, we watch mostly educational shows and sporting events. I can't stand most shows, especially anything deemed reality shows or shows with washed up actors desperate for any kind of attention. They're worse tahn watching a car wreck.

MyKidsMom said...

I have a similar post (maybe not as eloquent) sitting in my Microsoft word that I haven't had the guts to post. Many people are so attached to their tv, they just don't want to even think about the "sacrifice" of giving it up- even for the sake of their kids. And I honestly don't think you neccessarily know the influence it has on them right away. But that's me and my opinion. And the reference to "if it causes you to sin, pluck it out" hits the nail right on the head. It's interesting that the same people who would not allow bad language in their home, have it on the tv. I know, I should probably shut my mouth about now....Maybe I'll post that draft one of these days. Good for you!

ConservaChick said...

You wrote "we are pathetic when we go to my mom's. We start calling dibs on the remote before we're even there... "
I had to laugh at this because I can SO relate! Luckily she has three T.V.s! ~K

Mrs. Darling said...

These comments have made me wonder about something. I was raised without TV and didnt have one in my own home until I was 27 years old. Now here's something I find interesting. The TV is not a big issue in my life. I go days and days without turning it on even though we have a 58" HDTV upstairs, a small one under the kitchen counter, a 42" flat screen in the other living room and a 38" in our bedroom. We have dish network and the whole nine yards, and yet, I rarely watch it.

I was also raised without radio for all those years and I still dont listen to the radio. Could it be that it's because I was so m any years without that I have no addiction to it all today?

It's food for thought. If that is the case could we train the next generation of kids like that? If I got rid of my TV would my kids not care about it either when they grew up? Hmmm, I'll have to think on that one.

PS. Not that we will be getting rid of our TV's. My husband would never allow that!

Becky said...

Congratulations on giving up TV programming! A very wise decision.

Giving up TV years ago was the best thing we ever did for our family life and our marriage. We had started to notice that our furniture was arranged around the TV like it was some kind of idol. We still have a TV in our home (in a closet to be dug out for an occasional movie or video games), but no programming.

Now we have to continually assess how other things have moved in to fill that 'void' of escapism that TV once time, reading, hobbies, listening to sports radio...

Notice how I say this while bloghopping? See what I mean? It's a constant battle, I tell you!

San said...

We have a t.v., but we don't subscribe to the tens of thousands of channels. I prefer disappearing into a great book, or playing a board game when the kids are home from college. Or, even having a conversation.

The t.v. is mesmerizing, and not in the best of ways.

Melany aka Supermom said...

Hats off to you!!!! Good on you

carrie said...

Stop by later today...I've got an award for you ;) and a tag...LOL!

Stacey said...

GG--you're right on. And Karlie, I stand in awe of your bravery. I don't watch much myself, but my kids do. And it's not okay. I just don't quite know how to change up the game plan this late. Any suggestions? xo

Halfmoon Girl said...

We have basic cable here- the little's watch a bit most days in the afternoon to chill out for a bit. The kids in general do not watch too much, but I could get rid of it and be just fine. I would miss The Office, but I don't watch any shows regularly anymore anyways. I agree that the electronics need to be shut off more and more time spent using imaginations these days. We just arrived back from Disneyland, and they had a whole area of X Box, etc, set up. I wasn't thrilled with the idea- I mean, come on, there was so much else to do! Our 8 year old was thrilled to try some of the games as we don't have anything like that at home, but some of the kids there just sat there playing and playing. I don't remember that area even being there when I was there last.

Anonymous said...

Wow, way to go! We've been TV-free for about a year and a half now...I don't know if we'll always be this way, but it's truly been a blessing. My husband turned into the game-master and plays chess, checkers, Monopoly, whatever, with the kids all the time, something I never thought I'd see because he LOVED his sitcoms. It wasn't until several months of no TV that we realized how much it had really consumed our family life.

In the beginning, it was sort of a forced decision, as we had sold our house and most everything else, including the T.V., and lived in a travel trailer for 3 months. We ended up renting a house (where we're currently living) and just never got another T.V.

We do have a little t.v. that plays videos only, so we can rent things from the library for the kids. But we are in complete control, and we like that.

Blessings to your family!!

Anonymous said...

My oldest son had no interest in TV before age 5 1/2, NOW he is "addicted" youngest (14 months) knows what it is already, and throws temper tantrums about NOT using it! I TOTALLY agree with "the loss of innocence"

candy said...

Wow...LOVED this post! I agree so much about what you said about TV..
Great blog. I will be back for sure!

Have a blessed day!

Candy from Canada