Yesterday, I used "The O.C." as an example of how I watch TV with my kids, who are now 24 (almost 25), 23, and 21 years old. The older two are girls. The youngest is a boy.
I tend to get along pretty well with my kids. Sometimes, they think I am too strict. Sometimes, I think they are too strict. Don't go thinking that they don't get on me about stuff. Like, for instance, my cage dancing fantasy.
When I spoke about watching "The O.C." with my children, I related how I used the characters and happenings in the show as "teachable moments." We would discuss issues the show presented and how the characters handled various situations they encountered. I hoped that these discussions would help my kids to become a little wiser about the ways of the world.
As I thought more about my blog post, I realized I kind of made it sound like I'm always and everywhere trying to teach my kids valuable lessons when we watch TV and movies. Frankly, if that were the case, I don't think my kids would want to watch ANYTHING with me, at all. I would just be a ball and chain around their entertainment-loving young selves.
So, I guess, most of the time, I just sit with my kids and we enjoy television shows and movies together. No comments, no judging, no discussion. Just fun and genuine, spur-of-the-moment reactions to the stories being told. Maybe some snacks thrown in. I mean, after all, my kids are older now. If they don't know the values I wanted them to grow up with by this time, I have pretty much failed. Although, I also took this more silent approach -- at least most of the time -- when they were teenagers. And I think it has value.
Why do I think it has value?
People are a generally rebellious lot. We don't like to get told what to do so very much. We like to make up our own minds. And, frankly, most kids know what their parents' opinions are by the time they are teenagers. That's why, when you see them rebelling, they are doing the opposite of what their parents would suggest. They have obviously figured out their parents way of thinking. And they are testing that way of thinking.
As you may know by now (ha-ha), I am a rather rebellious person. But -- and this may surprise you -- I never engaged in any so-called "high-risk" behaviors as a teen or young adult. Why? Certainly not because of my own common sense. I attribute this to my parents -- especially my dad -- who knew how to tread gently. He knew not to back me into a corner. This doesn't mean we didn't have some pretty "spirited discussions" -- a.k.a. "fights." But, in the end, my dad would look at me calmly and say, "Well, it's your life. Do what you want." Then, most of the time, whatever common sense I did possess would kick in and I would realize that I didn't want to do whatever that lame-ass thing was that I had been so vehemently demanding to do a few minutes before. Why didn't I want to do it? Because there was no more contest of wills going on. I didn't have to do that lame-ass thing in order to prove to my father that I couldn't be forced into things, by him or anyone else.
And that brings me back to the idea of just watching TV shows and movies with my kids with no commentary, simply with the goal of enjoying (or, perhaps, being shocked or terrified by) a story. Especially if it is a television program or movie of their choosing. I'm not going to turn this form of entertainment into an opportunity for rebellion. I am, rather, going to use it as an opportunity for bonding. After all, having a good time together watching Sammy and Ben run around is one ingredient that can lead to a very positive mother-daughter relationship. At least, in my experience. SouthLAnd. Forever. ;-)
Disclaimer: I am assuming, of course, that your kids aren't bringing home "films" from the Adult Store. That is a whole different issue.