I've had a few conversations lately about sheltering kids from things and I'm beginning to think that Chris and I are on the far end of the spectrum- keeping our kids very sheltered.
I don't remember Chris and I ever sitting down and outlining the things we thought would be ok to expose our kids to, but we're definitely on the same page and have the same ideas.
Luca is only 5 and Levi 3. To me, that's still so young. Their minds are very impressionable and their reasoning skills are not fully developed- meaning they can't always distinguish reality from fiction or situationally appropriate comments from those that are socially unacceptable. (I'm sure all of us parents have had the mortifying experience of our child asking all too loudly why someone is fat, or a different color or strange looking).
Chris and I have always been careful about our conversations in front of the kids. There are some things that children just don't need to hear- we don't want to color their views on someone or a situation just because they have heard one of us express our opinion. On a few occasions, when having a conversation with someone, I've been surprised at how uncensored they are when their children are listening. I just feel that some conversations are for adult ears only (and I mean just some topics in general). We never know what our kids are hearing and internalizing and thinking about.
And actually, I experienced the effects of this first hand one day last Spring. We live in a small town- everyone knows everyone. I substitute teach in the school here. I overheard one child talking to a friend (another child) about me, but it was obvious that what was said came from the parent- probably overheard while the parent was speaking to another adult. I just don't think that this is appropriate. I would be so upset if the situation had been reversed and my child repeated gossip that was overheard.
Chris and I are also pretty strict about what our kids watch. We're "those" parents that don't let our kids watch much. Just this past weekend, we allowed the boys to watch Spiderman (the live action one with Tobey Maguire). Luca loved it, Levi was interested on and off. I think that Luca is at the age where he can watch things like that and be able to seperate what is happening as fiction. Levi is still a bit young and his interest only holds during the exciting parts. He doesn't care much for the story.
Luca is desperate to watch Pirates of the Caribbean, especially after our trip to Disneyland. Chris and I go back and forth on whether we are ready for him to watch it. There are some scary parts and I worry that he will have nightmares. I also worry a bit about the content. I do know that even when we allow him to watch the first one, that the next 3 won't be on our list for a while. The content, scenes and language get a bit more mature with each film. Pirates is one that he will have to watch with us after Levi is in bed because I am fairly certain that it is not appropriate for Levi.
We have cable tv, but not in a central location. Our tv is not on for long periods of time. The boys have dvds that they are allowed to watch but they don't often get to watch tv programming except for when we turn it on for them for short periods of time. And because the option for cable tv isn't where we spend the majority of our time, its not a temptation to always have it on.
Luca loves to play on the computer. About 6 months ago, I introduced him to the computer after subbing in kindergarten. It was nearly the end of the school year and the students still needed so much guidance to log on and get to the program that I thought I would start showing Luca now so he was one less child to need to help once he got to school. Well, let me tell you- that kid is almost better at the computer than I am!
Computers (and technology as a whole) are a big part of life now and will just become more prominent as Luca grows. Using a computer will just be second nature to him. We do allow him to use the computer on a daily basis but Chris has set up our computer so Luca has his own profile that he logs on to and we have chosen the sites that he has access to. He has quick links to the appropriate sites that have Disney games or learning games. He's thrilled. He has about 5 different links that he can choose and that's more than enough for him.
I truly don't think that our children feel deprived by what we are limiting. My boys are only going to be little and innocent for such a short amount of time. I want to keep them that way while it is still possible. It won't be long before they are being influenced by many things beyond what Chris and I can control.
Every family has their own ways of doing things and their own thoughts on what is appropriate for their own children. I'm not criticizing or judging anyone else's decisions. You have to do what works best for your family. I'm just starting to feel that Chris and I are on the very protective side of the spectrum and am wondering where everyone else falls.
What are your thoughts on conversations/ tv/ movies/ computer content that your kids are exposed to? Are you conscious of it? Was it a decision that you consciously made? How do you decide what is appropriate?
I'm really curious to hear your thoughts on this.