Reality TV Parenting Redux – The One Week Challenge

by Samantha on May 7, 2011

I recently and unwittingly hit a parenting nerve.
A post that I wrote a while back entitled “Reality TV: A Parenting Reality” was the most popular and commented-upon piece that I have had to date. Exactly why, who knows, but one can certainly speculate.
Many of us adhere to the philosophy of “Reality TV Parenting” more out of inertia and less from a concentrated effort to purposefully slack off on our parenting duties. But perhaps at this point I should back up somewhat and provide some context. 
Image courtesy of www.blog.genxrising.com
What exactly is “Reality TV Parenting?” Well, let’s say that it’s the easy way out. It’s a way of spending time with your kids while watching your favorite reality TV programs – in my case, it’s Survivor, The Amazing Race and anything on The Food Network (am loving “Chopped” right now).
Sure, there is guilt involved. Lots of guilt. But not enough guilt to make you pick up your feet off the ottoman, to get up off the couch, or turn the TV off completely. Reality TV parenting consists of conveniently watching shows that you like all under the guise of spending time with your kid(s). It’s convenient. It’s easy. And it suits you just fine.
But what about your kids?
According to numerous reports, children and television are not generally seen to be compatible partners. Excessive TV-watching in kids has been linked to a range of problematic results, from obesity to aggression. Yet we continue to watch these programs with our children in the hopes of perhaps catching a few minutes of peace and entertainment.
Sometimes it’s because you really want to see what happens on “American Idol” or “Dancing With The Stars,” but more often than not, you are just really, really tired and have not one more ounce of energy to devote to the more involved responsibilities of parenting – like reading, homework and just plain talking to your child.
Television is just one part of the parenting puzzle these days, as other types of technology such as  computers, tablets (such as iPads), game consoles (Wii, Xbox) and the like continue to take precedence over spending time with our children the old-fashioned way. I, for one, am extremely guilty in this department.
Which leads me to the reason behind today’s post.
I’d like to challenge all of you to try a bit of an experiment for one week. Can you turn off the TV and spend more time with your kids? Can you cut out the convenience of “Reality TV Parenting” and get back to the basics? Read that extra book with your child, make up another story or just cuddle on the couch…with the TV turned off. I know that this will be a challenge for some of us, myself included, but it will likely pay off in the long run (you know that you can always DVR your favorite program and watch it next week, too!).
Do you think you can do the one-week TV challenge? Can you cut back or completely turn off the TV for one week and replace that time with a child-focused activity? I challenge you!
Can’t wait to hear all about it :)

**Please answer the poll in the right sidebar about how much TV you watch with your kids per week**

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