Family TV Watching: Parenting Tip

watching-television1“I came across your ideas on the LDSEHE website, and have been so inspired by all of it.  I’m starting to read your book, hoping to fill in a few holes.  I really like your idea for Friday family movie nights as your one source of TV.  How do you make selections for that night?  Do you have a list of movies you would recommend?” -Grateful Parent

You are right.  We have a family TV watching policy to help our family not get bound by television.  Our policy is that we don’t watch TV unless it is a movie on Friday family movie night.  Olympics and Church General Conference Programs are excluded in this policy. 

In some homes television is given too much power.  The TV is given the power over the people.  Well, actually, we turn over our freedom to it.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a good show here and there, and I do give my mind and time to a few things, but I have also felt the bondage of television. 

I will never forget wanting to see the outcome of a show so badly that I was ignoring my own child to see it.  The child was asking me something, and I just kept saying, “just a minute.”  This is not the kind of parent I want to be or the person I want to encourage my children to be.  If television takes power over the family vision then the television needs to be controlled before it takes over the whole family. 

I read a quote today which said, “Keeping peace in a large family requires patience, love, understanding, and at least two TV sets.” 

When I read this I was sad.  I wasn’t sad about a person owning two televisions.  That’s no disaster.  It was how the TV was viewed in the above statement which bothers me.  Is the TV a principle for family happiness now just like love?  Are families so hooked into the TV that they are arguing over it enough to make a statement like this?  Our Friday family movie nights are unifying events, not selfish events.  There, I said it.  Too much TV watching can very easily make someone selfish.  The purpose of television is to stimulate the self, not to unify the family.  This is why we take it in small doses. 

Our policy gives us something to look forward to as well. 

Here are some of the Peck Family’s favorite movies. 

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers………………..MGM

Ever After……………………………….Drew Barrymore

All of the Love Comes Softly Series………….Michael Landon Jr.

Bright Eyes…………………………………..Shirley Temple

The Greatest Game Ever Played…………..Disney

The Scarlet Pimpernell…………………Jane Seymore

Wives and Daughters…………………….A&E

National Treasure (1 & 2)………………Nicholas Cage

Pride & Prejudice (all versions)…………BBC

Ann of Green Gables Series……………Megan Fellows

Planet Earth……………………………….BBC

The Princess Bride……………………

Remember the Titans…………………Denzel Washington

The Ultimate Gift…………………….Abigail Breslin

Newsies……………………………….Disney

The Karate Kid (1 &2)………….Ralph Machio

Sky High……………………….Disney

The Sound of Music…………………Julie Andrews

Akela and the Bee…………………..

Most BBC Shakespeare Movies and Musicals make it into our collection.  We love the classics.  We also love inspiring sports shows. 

When I asked the children their favorites, these are what they said. 

Don’t just take our word for it though.  We are firm believers in pre-viewing movies.  Every family gets their own inspiration.  What feels okay for us may not feel okay for you.  My husband and I always watch movies and give them the okay before we suggest them for a family movie night.  This means that for date night, mom and dad might have to include a new movie here and there. 

My rule is, when in doubt, don’t.  If something about a movie bugs me, we just pick, another one.  Look deeply into the show when you are previewing it.  Don’t just enjoy it, look for what messages it is giving and decide if you agree.  There are a few I don’t agree with that I have watched with my children to teach them about parts or issues in the world which they haven’t encountered yet for a teaching tool.  Just make sure a movie like this is followed up by good discussion.  In fact discuss all movies.  It’s part of the fun!!!

For more answers to your parenting questions see Nicholeen’s blog http://teachingselfgovernment.com

Her Book: Parenting A House United  http://teachingselfgovernment.com/shop/

The BBC show about the Peck Family http://teachingselfgovernment.com/videos/

5 thoughts on “Family TV Watching: Parenting Tip

  1. Nicholeen, great advice. A parent trying to keep the garbage away from the kids faces incredible challenges these days. I like most of the movies you mentioned.

    One other suggestion: as your kids get older, introduce them to older classics, including all the musicals like “Singing in the Rain” and “Oklahoma.” Also, consider “Casablanca,” “Key Largo,” “The Philadelphia Story” and other classic pre-1960 movies. They will learn that entertainment does not have to be about finding new lines of bad taste to cross.

    Some other more, recent movies that are worth family viewing:

    “Holes.”
    “Secondhand Lions.”
    “Because of Winn-Dixie”
    The Narnia movies.

  2. Luckily Tivo has taken away the tv bondage for many. My wife and I can still see our favorite shows at night but spend time having fun with the kids (or with each other) during the day. We went a step further by getting rid of our satellite and only watching shows on dvd or through iTunes. So no more commercials and tv is on our schedule.

    And the only way your movie list could be better is if Princess Bride was shown every Friday.

  3. A TIVO/DVR is the solution to the problem, such as it may be, you’ve set up in the OP. You’re not beholden to any particular broadcast schedule; you can pre-view a program before allowing kids to watch; you skip through commercials; and,you can save good shows/movies into perpetuity.

    I dont’ see TV watching on more than one night a week as a problem. Ignoring children to watch a show is a problem, but watching a couple of shows a week, with or without kids, is not a problem or even something to be concerned with, imo. I let my 17 yr old stay up until almost midnight on Thursday to watch game 1 of the NBA finals. Does that make me a bad parent? I doubt it.

    For kids today,however, TV watching is becoming almost anachronistic. Give them a choice between watching TV or spending time on the internet, I bet the internet wins out by a comfortable margin. In my house if it came down to getting rid of cable or the internet, it’s not even close: good bye cable TV. If the choice is between an unlimited text messaging plan and the internet, then we’re talking a real dilemma for my kids.

  4. I agree with the movies in #1, all very entertaining. Courtesy of TIVO, our family has really enjoyed watching “Modern Family” this season. Everyone laughs pretty hard at some point from our 10 yr all the way to me, the Dad.

  5. I am also thankful for TiVo. We also have movie night at our house. Now if I can just get keep my kids from bugging me while “I fight with people on the internet” :)

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