I was at a playdate today. Everyone was talking about television. Me, I was chasing around my crazy baby, so I wasn’t in the conversation. When I finally sat down one of my friends turned to me with a question: “Does [Little Girl] watch TV?” No, I said, feeling very uncomfortable. I know she’s seen my Facebook updates, and maybe even read some of my blog posts. I wondered if she was asking to be curious or because she was wondering if I was sitting there judging them as I chased my little one around the room.
It’s so hard having a pulpit that can’t really be personalized. As a writer, I take a stance on something, and have to stand behind it. I can’t temper what I write for each person who reads it. Take my post on babies and toddlers and television viewing. Do I think babies should be watching TV? No, but I also don’t think that moms who do let their kids watch an episode or two of Sesame Street — or in this case Handy Manny — are bad moms. In fact, this mom and the others at the playdate are pretty wonderful. The one mom who posed the question is so devoted and so attentive. She is what I would classify as a Great Mom (notice the capital letters!). Still, as someone who has seen the research, and talked to the experts, I should be telling her what I know, right?
I’m not so sure. Research is great. It helps cure diseases, and helps us avoid harmful situations. However, the research subjects are human. They are exposed to thousands if not tens of thousands of other variables. So sure, television might cause children to have difficulty sleeping, and contribute to obesity, but maybe it has a different affect for a child who spends plenty of time running around, playing with other kids, and having his mom and dad read to him than the kid who doesn’t move from the set all day. Maybe the researchers are right, but only for specific types of kids. Maybe kids who watch a lot of TV are also eating poor food choices, and not getting any other exercise. Or maybe the kids who — like my friend’s son — only watch TV in the morning won’t have the same outcome as kids who spend hours and hours in front of the tube from morning until night. I don’t know. I do know that no parent should ever feel judged or bad about the choices they make for their kids as long as they are doing the absolute best that they can do. For me, that means no television until after the age of two. For my friends, it means an hour or so of television every day so they can get through the day. There is no right or wrong answer. There truly are shades of gray when it comes to this parenting thing.
Are you a blogger? How do you deal with keeping your blogging life and your personal life separate? Are you a reader? Have you ever felt uncomfortable or judged after reading someone’s blog?