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The Goddess Speaks


Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Thanks, Mr. TV, for
giving my kids back!

MY husband and I did something a little over a year ago that most people don't do. It wasn't an easy decision for us to make. We didn't even tell our kids in advance, knowing they'd be upset. Matter of fact, we knew they'd be outraged! I can still recall the day we made our decision. On March 31, 2000, we called the cable company and had our television set put to sleep. Yes, that's right. We pulled the plug! We are now a TV free family and are reaping the rewards of our decision.

We know of only a couple other families who have eliminated television from their homes. Some of them restrict TV watching to certain times or days, but it's not the same. The quality of our family life has dramatically improved since we exorcised this robber of time that once held our family hostage. It is my hope to see more families cut the cable and experience the same positive effect it's had on our family.

On past weekdays, my husband and I would arise at 6 a.m. At 6:30 a.m., like clockwork, we'd sit down with our cups of coffee and watch 15 minutes of news before starting our work day. Our girls, then 11 and 12, would plop down next to us to eat their breakfast. When the Columbine shooting and others that followed occurred, I remember feeling uncomfortable with my girls starting their day by taking in all the bad news the world had to offer. It was no way for any of us to start the day! Ron and I started to talk about what we were watching on TV, and the effect it had on us. Soon after, we stopped watching TV in the morning, and resorted to good old-fashioned conversation over our coffee and cereal.

I also got tired of having to negotiate with my kids over what they could and couldn't watch. "Oh Mom, just this one more program. I promise. It's my favorite show ... I'll do it later, pleeeeeeeease." TV became a bargaining tool in our household, and I didn't like having to compete with it for my children's time and attention.

I must admit, when we first had the cable cut off an eerie stillness blanketed our home. The abrupt quietness felt uncomfortable at first. Our big screen TV stood there, in all of it's 50-inch glory, silenced. It kind of looked like a tombstone.

As with all habits, there was a period of withdrawal we all went through. If there were a rehab center for TV withdrawal, I would have sent my kids there. Why did you do that? How could you do that? Are you crazy? When are you going to turn it back on? You are going to turn it back on, right? We are the only family in the world without TV.

Now, they rarely bring up the subject anymore.

There are consequences that go along with just about everything we do in life. If you don't watch television, you find other things to do. We eat dinner more often at the table now. We even light candles and use festive dinnerware on weekdays. We play family games and we talk more. My youngest daughter reads almost nightly and the older one is excelling in her computer skills.

We watch videos together. And we talk and talk and talk. Sometimes 'cause there's just nothing better to do. It's wonderful! The feeling of not having to struggle with the television for my childrens' time and attention is priceless. Just last night, as bedtime was near, my youngest daughter and I grabbed the Boggle game and played a few rounds. I have never been much of a game player and am learning to play with my kids more.

As I am putting the final touches on this story, it's evening time and my daughters are both in the kitchen talking to their dad as they warm up a snack. The only sounds I hear are the humming of the microwave and their voices and I feel such contentment. With the 180 digital channels now offered, not one channel emits a sight or a sound more beautiful than that of kids and their parents talking together ...

Carol Lee Ramie runs Island Investigative
Services with her husband.

The Goddess Speaks runs every Tuesday
and is a column by and about women, our strengths, weaknesses,
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