I recently met with a "temperament specialist" to discuss certain behaviors that Milo and Huck were exhibiting that caused me some stress. You know, like the biting and the hitting babies.
The temperament specialist did a very good job of explaining to me that these behaviors had to do with their "temperament" and there wasn't anything I'd done to make them this way. Likewise, she assured me that I had no business taking credit for what an easy child Annabella has been so far.
I nodded and took notes and when it became clear that she was ready to usher me out and replace me with her next patient, I threw out this theory I'd been mulling over in my head lately.
I said, "Do you think they would bite and hit each other less if they watched television?"
She gave me a blank stare, so I went on to explain that sure, many studies say that television can lead to more aggressive behavior. So, how to explain the fact that my kids, who are often the most aggressive children on the playground, don't watch any television at all?
They don't watch movies either. At least they don't watch them at our house. Annabella now goes on playdates with friends from school where she sometimes watches movies. It seems like an odd choice of an activity with a friend, but it's their choice and that's fine. When their kids come play at our house, we sometimes play "give Annabella's mommy a foot massage."
We have a great big TV, but it doesn't get any TV reception and Marco and I only use it to watch DVDs after the kids go to bed. In my opinion, anything worth watching on television these days is available at Netflix or iTunes.
The kids know we have a TV, but to them it's like Diet Coke or vodka tonics. OK for mommy and daddy, but not for them.
Let me explain also that Marco is leading the no TV or movies charge, not me. I grew up on TV. I spent many early years imagining I was the brunette Brady cousin who came to live with the family when my parents got sucked into that same vortex as the Brady boys' real mom and the Brady girls' real dad. But Marco thinks that the kids will watch enough television in their lives and that as long as we can control it now, we should.
The simple fact is that he feels more strongly about them not watching television than I feel about them watching television, so he wins.
It should also be noted that I spend many hours of the day working in a little office above our garage while other people are helping to care for my children. If I didn't have that break, I don't know if I would feel the same way I do about television. Moms, dads, you do what you have to do, right?
And finally I know that because I have three children very close in age, they can entertain each other for long periods of time, without the television. Sometimes that entertaining happens to come in the form of hitting and biting. And this brings me to the point I was making to the temperament specialist. Are you following all this? I told you I grew up on television, people.
So, I asked her, "Could it be that violence is caused by not watching television?"
She was quick to point out that my children's behavior wasn't violence. (Moms of babies that Huck has hit at the park might disagree.) And she said I could make up my own decision about whether or not my children watched television, but she hadn't read any studies that said it was necessarily good for them.
I know my kids won't be TV-free forever. Nor will they be Internet-free. And as much as I love technology, a small part of me wishes they would be, for no other reason than I could continue to blog about them for the rest of my life.