Finding balance for your parental obsessions

All parents have them: That one (hopefully not more than two) thing that you are a bit obsessive about making sure your child does or doesn't do because you are working out some sort of childhood issue of your own.

Maybe you are a slow reader, so you are going to make sure your child has a great relationship with books. Or maybe you did really well in school and you want your child to experience similar accolades and honors similar to how you did. Or, maybe it has something to do with sports.

My obsession is about screen time. I know that I watched too much television when I was a child, because I have memories about specific cartoon plot lines stuck in my brain (and, even sadder, some details of my honeymoon are drowned out by the lyrics to Must See TV theme songs). Because I don't want my son's future memories to include things he sees on the Disney channel, I am a bit of a mean mom when it comes to letting him watch TV.

(For the record: If the Internet had been around touting studies about how too much television and computer time could harm children's development when I was a child, I am sure my Mom would have hit the off button more often.)

So, on the one hand, I am a little proud of my limited screen time rules when I read that television may lead to unhappiness in children. And I am fascinated to read that children are thinner when their mothers - not their fathers - monitor screen time. (Seriously - why do moms matter more? I can't wait for the follow up study!)

But, I also know that I need to lighten up. So, as my son gets older and I start to relax my rules about television, I remind myself that PBS programming and shows from Netflix are (for the most part) commercial free. And that some shows are still awesome. And that by letting my son watch television some times, I am teaching him that life is all about balance - even when it comes to the small things in life.

What about your household? What is your parental obsession? (And how much television do you let your child watch per week?) Tell me at Sorry, Mom. I didn't listen.

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Comment by Marcia Fowler on March 24, 2014 at 9:53am

I love that NF is around. It's much easier to monitor screen time. My kids can watch when they(I) want them to and the show doesn't immediately run into a commercial or another show.

I was a STICKLER about tv time with my 1st for years. Too much of one.  Now my second child has more freedom. But usually, school year weekdays, no tv for the 7 year old or just 1 episode of something if it's the middle of Jan/Feb and I've had it with kids being inside. Movie night on Fridays and weekends, usually 1 kid's show then if we want to watch something, like Cosmos, we watch together.

My other obsessions used to be typical first mom ones: Extreme-hand washing (gold medalist!) healthy food obsession (silver medalist) cloth diapers (bronze). Now, I don't even bother putting a handiwipe in my son's lunch box because he doesn't use it and it's a waste of money. I still care about healthy foods and thankfully diapers are gone!  I think my other obsession is making sure they get out to play,  but more for my sake than theirs.

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