Am I a Bad Dad?

I often feel a tinge of guilt from somewhere in my psyche when I hear about kids and their x-boxes or wii’s or whatever the latest gaming system is, because my kids don’t have one. I feel even guiltier when I think how funny a gaming system would look sitting next to our non-existent television.

Am I a bad Dad? My kids are happy and healthy. They eat well and have an active lifestyle. They don’t lack for adequate clothing, even stylish clothes. They have hand held gaming devices and plenty of games from which to choose. Still, they’re different from other kids.

One of our neighbors bought a new, huge, flat-screen TV and offered us their old one for free. Their old TV worked just fine. There was nothing wrong with it. They just wanted a new one. We talked about it as a family. After more than two years without one, do we want a TV back in our lives?

The answer was a resounding, unanimous no. None of us felt like anything was missing from our lives because we choose not to have a television in our home. The TV, our thirteen year old daughter reasoned, would detract from our lives by luring us away from outdoor pursuits and other activities that bring us joy. It’s like sugar, drawing you in with promises of satisfaction and fulfillment, only to leave you unsatisfied and unfulfilled.

I think commercialism is shallow, hollow, inane, and boring. Commercials, while seemingly unavoidable, are still subject to my control. I choose whether or not to watch commercial television or listen to commercial radio or visit websites that have advertisements on them.

Naturally, my biases rub off on my children, the poor kids. When other kids at school talk about the latest commercial touting whatever new, hot craze, my kids are clueless.

Well, they were clueless until they heard about it at school. The other kids had to see the commercial 750,000 times while watching their favorite ½ hour long sit-com. My kids caught the gist of it in two or three nanoseconds while overhearing a conversation from across the cafeteria during lunch. At home they You Tube it and can’t see what the hype was all about.

“Was that it?” my son asks. Exactly.

So, call me neglectful.

I liken our TV-less lives to a few years ago when we eschewed the land-line in favor of cell phones. Just as cell phones un-tethered us from the tyranny of telephone wires, the internet allows us freedom from the Boob Tube.

We don’t lack access to entertainment, we just get our entertainment online now. We stream movies and music, read e-books, and listen to audiobooks and play games on various electronic devices. The difference is those devices don’t rule our lives.

We can’t even threaten the kids with the loss of their electronic device as a form of discipline. They say, “ok,” and then go grab a book off the shelf. More often than not, our children’s electronic devices are nearby our non-existent television anyway, right next to the gaming system I haven’t bought them.

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  1. mike and brandy

     /  March 4, 2013

    brandy and i made the decision to cancel our cable this weekend more for financial reasons, but also because we haven’t really watched tv much in the last year. couldn’t see wasting more money that we don’t have anyway.
    about 2yrs ago we started the whole ‘no tv week’ for the first full week of every month, sunday to saturday anyway… so we have slowly weaned ourselves off of the One Eyed Monster to a slower life of reading in the back area and actually TALKING to eachother.
    won’t miss it. much simpler life, which is what it’s all about anyways.
    mike and brandy

    • We originally did the same thing – cancelled cable to save money, back when our ten year old was a newborn. I missed the history and discovery channels and our oldest missed Saturday morning cartoons, but after a while we got used to not watching them. Now our oldest, at thirteen years old is the most adamantly opposed to having a TV in the house of all of us because it’s a distraction. She doesn’t want to be distracted. The days are short enough as it is.

      I think the key is to DO those things you imagined yourself doing if you didn’t have a TV. Do what makes you smile.

      Thank you for commenting!


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