My kid watches TV. A lot. As a matter of fact, so does my entire family. And I’m tired of acting like I care about the AAP regulations on how much screen time is okay and how much isn’t. Because I’ve got one rule as a parent–do what works for your family, as long as everyone is safe.
I had planned on writing a “sorry not sorry” version of this where I talked about how much TV my family watches together, that we actually discuss what we see, that we gather and excitedly compare themes and Easter eggs and omg-the-book-did-this-instead. That my daughter uses a tablet and watches TV more than the recommendations say that she should, but she also attends a Montessori school and swim and toddler language classes and can count to twenty in English and Mandarin. And she’s barely two.
And that’s true, but what I really care about is this:
Stop it. Stop the shaming and the guilt. You wanna know something? I really believe breastfeeding is best. I really do. I think that’s it’s awesome and incredible and free. And if it didn’t exist and someone had invented it, they’d be getting a damn Nobel prize for economics, because what product customizes itself to the exact needs of your child and reduces the mother’s risk of disease and helps boost the immune system for free?
I get so much crap from people who swear I’m shaming them for their feeding choices, but they criticize me about a plethora of other things without hesitation. Hey, the AAP recommends breastfeeding for at least six months to a year, but I notice you didn’t care about that when you started getting down on me about how many hours a day my toddler has screen time?
Just because I think breastfeeding is awesome doesn’t mean I think you’re less awesome if you don’t do it.
Yes, breast is best, but fed is better. And the fact that we can even have a ridiculous debate about what other moms do with their kids shows you that we have privilege. There are kids that don’t get fed AT ALL. They die without food in their bellies. And you’re mad that someone else isn’t using organic formula? Or that their toddler is using a $300 tablet to keep them quiet in their $500 car seat enjoying screen time instead of having meaningful and educational interaction with their mother, who just wants to take a shit in peace?
We spend time talking about the wrong things and we drop the ball on what matters. Last month, people died. A lot of people. And we said it wasn’t the right time to talk about gun control. Then, people came forward with allegations of sexual assault and that’s all anyone can talk about.
Why are we shying away from having difficult conversations? Why are we acting like what’s right isn’t right? Are we afraid of the organizations that make billions off the massacre of innocent people? Or the organizations that make money off formula? Baby gear? Our insecurity? Our divisiveness? Our fear? Our need to feel in control?
Fight back by seeking the human thread in the conversation. You have more control and power than you think—what you focus on grows. Don’t get distracted by silly pseudo-issues like who feeds their baby what, or how many hours of Paw Patrol is too many. (Three. The answer is three. For your sanity- three.)
Devote your attention to the conversations that really need to be had.
Now is always the time to talk about it. These conversations could be life or death.
Oh, and about my kid’s screen time habits? Let her watch. Duggee is kind and helpful. Nina is curious and generous. Elena is brave and knows when to ask for help. Moana loves her family and has a healthy disregard for authority. I’m glad they exist for her to learn from. I have a feeling my daughter will need some of those qualities growing up in this world.