Lazy parenting

Melanie of My World, My Words, writes in a post called “Too Much Lazy Parenting” about a recent trip to a restaurant where she saw not one but two families who had brought portable DVD players to entertain their children so the adults could enjoy their meal in peace and pretty much ignore the kids. Thus far, Melanie only has one child, a nine month old baby, so she hasn’t yet experienced the demoralizing effects of taking three children under five to a restaurant. I have, but I still agree with her, not with the parents who bring portable DVD players to restaurants.

I don’t even like the idea of DVD players in cars. When my husband bought a car that had a video player in it, I wasn’t thrilled. When the video player broke, and he decided it wasn’t worth spending the money to fix, I was quite frankly relieved. When I was young, I spent car trips either reading, playing “the license plate game” with my brother (whoever spots the most out of state plates wins) or bickering and arguing with my brother. I wanted my children to learn to entertain themselves by reading, and having a DVD or video player would make that less likely. Of course, not having the videos means that they bicker and argue more, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay, because now that two of them are reading (one pretty well and one learning but getting there) they do read in the car.

Melanie’s post also describes her husband’s two young cousins

who I have barely spoken to because they show up at dinner parties or holiday parties with their little portable video players and proceed to spend their whole time at the party occupying their time that way. They do not even play together or near each other.

This, as she comments, is truly sad. It is so important for children to get to know their adult relatives, and to learn to interact with people of all ages as well as with other children. Yes, it is easier to stick them in the corner with a Game Boy or a movie and enjoy some adult conversation, but easier is not necessarily better.

Comments 5

  1. Melissa wrote:

    Totally agree with your thoughts (except for the DVD player in the car….we’d never make it on 2 day road trips w/o it!). I think its a sad statement that we even need to point out that this is rude. My husband flew next to a family playing the Wiggles DVD for all the flight to hear. How much more annoying that is than hearing you at least attempt to train your child how to behave in public. I’m afraid for what’s happening inside the brains of this over-entertained generation.

    Posted 02 Jul 2008 at 11:52 pm
  2. Bev wrote:

    If parents want to eat in peace, hire a babysitter! We have a portable DVD player, and they come in handy for long trips. But otherwise, the thing is never used.

    Our children ARE over-entertained. But my standard answer for the lament of “I’m Bored!” is “Go Clean Your Room!” It will never be, “Go watch a movie.”

    Posted 04 Jul 2008 at 11:56 am
  3. Martha Brozyna wrote:

    Children are absolutely over entertained. I actually think that parents who stick their kids in front of the TV to watch “educational” programming for hours on end and those with portable DVD players are focused more on sedating their children rather than entertaining them. And please don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about the DVD players used for long trips, I’m talking about the DVD players used at restaurants and family gatherings.

    When my husband and I decided to have children we agreed that there would be no TV until the kids were much older. The thought of my children staring with those vacuous, bovine-like expressions on their faces at some screen filled me with dread. Our TV is never on when our kids are around because we don’t even want them to see us watching TV. When we bought our SUV, the salesman was surprised that we specifically requested no DVD player. Has that made our lives harder? You bet. But has it been worth it? Absolutely. My daughter who is now three can entertain herself and has a wonderful imagination. When we’re at a playdate, and the hosting mom puts on a DVD, my daughter is completely uninterested and would rather play on her own or read books.

    Posted 04 Jul 2008 at 2:30 pm
  4. Bowden Russell wrote:

    I beg to differ Martha.

    My two youngest children learned to count in Spanish soley by watching “Dora the Explorer”.

    I’m not a big fan of TV for kids, but it does have some value.

    And my 2nd oldest child has learned a lot from playing “Starfall” on the computer. Granted, computers are more interactive, but not much more so than TV.

    Posted 07 Jul 2008 at 11:56 pm
  5. Martha Brozyna wrote:

    My daughter learned how to count in Spanish from preschool. She’s also been introduced to a slew of other subjects like astronomy, biology, geology, geography and art history. She’s been attending a Montessori preschool since she was 2 1/2 and it’s been the best thing. They teach the old-fashioned way with face-to-face interactions between teachers and children. Moreover, children are placed in mixed age groups, so younger children learn from the older ones while the older ones build self-esteem and confidence by teaching the younger children. It’s the way kids have learned for almost all of human history. No gimmicks necessary.

    I’m sure TV has some value for children, but I’m one of those “weird” people that simply is not into it. I don’t really watch much TV myself, so it never occurred to me to introduce my children to it. I do have a soft spot for the Travel Channel and true crime documentaries, though, but only in the evenings to unwind. Watching TV during the day, when the kids are up and around, seems to be such a waste of the day. My husband was into TV a bit more than I, but he’s adapted to keeping it off when the kids are around.

    Posted 08 Jul 2008 at 2:48 am

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 1

  1. From Moralia - Look who’s reading on 05 Jul 2008 at 5:02 am

    […] list mentioned today that she knew how I felt about car DVD players since she’d read my blog post about it, and last night my dad (who refuses to use a computer) told me that he’d heard that I wrote […]

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