My New Year's resolution is to limit the amount of TV my son watches. I believe this will strengthen our relationship and encourage his creativity. But most importantly, I believe it is necessary to preserve my own mental health.
You see, until recently I didn't have a strong opinion about children's television. Oh, I've read the reports about the pros and cons. In fact, I reported the reports. I sat there in my anchor chair and talked about the studies (in my anchor voice) that say it can negatively affect reading and comprehension skills. On the other hand, there are those who believe TV can actually benefit a child's language development. Either way, most everyone seems to agree that it's fine in small doses and this is the approach my wife and I have always taken.
(A quick observation: I've found that here on Manhattan's Upper West Side, where there's social pressure among parents to appear perfect, children's television is rarely discussed. I imagine it's much the same way the subject of drinking was handled during Prohibition -- it may happen in the privacy of one's own home, but no one openly admits it, lest they be labeled or judged delinquent.)
Nevertheless, my new "stay-at-home" status has brought me face to face with children's television like never before and I've developed a visceral disdain for it. The voices! The music! It's the type of contempt that, up until now, I'd reserved for rival sports teams or cleaning the bathroom. Those insanely happy little characters singing and dancing across the television make me want to throw something at it -- and I love my television. Most of all, I hate the catatonic look on my son's face while he watching those shows.
My strong reaction had gotten me to wondering if there was something wrong with me. I mean, who hates a Muppet? Am I turning into that grouchy old man who screams at the kids to get off his lawn? However, a quick internet search of the words "children's television" and "annoying" reveals plenty of parents who feel exactly the same as me. So I guess professional counseling isn't required yet. (If ever I Google "children's television" and "psychotic rage," feel free to alert the authorities.)
Discontinuing all of his TV viewing isn't realistic either. Taking away his Little Einsteins would be like taking coffee away from my wife... no peace in this household. But for as long as I'm in charge, those "small doses" he's grown accustomed to are getting cut in half. Papa deserves some peace, too.