Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Opting out of TV, Reading to the Children Instead...

We've been without TV for nearly two years now. It all started when our dish satellite went out and I asked the then 16-year-old boy to call a brother in our ward and ask if he could fix it for us. He said he didn't want to, and I don't know if it was out of pride, embarrassment or laziness, but he never did. A few weeks later he asked me when we were going to get our satellite fixed. I told him we would as soon as he called the good brother. That was two years ago.

I think I won in two ways. First, I followed through on my word as far as what it would take to get satellite. Second, we've gone without TV for nearly two years. Sometimes I am tempted to reinstall our dish, but when I visit my mother and see how quickly the children become addicted to the TV, and I am reminded of all the filth that is pumped into homes, I feel a renewed sense that this is the right decision for our family.

As most of you know, our family life is hectic, stressful, noisy, and there never seems to be the time to accomplish what we need to. Even so, I have decided to do something I've always wanted to do, but could never figure out how I would implement it.

Recently I started reading an amazing book series by Chris Stewart called "The Great and The Terrible". This series chronicles a family's story from before they were born when they lived with God, through their lives on earth, and I can only guess, since I haven't gotten there yet, into the next life.

(As I'm writing, I'm wondering something. So Mormons believe that we lived in a pre-mortal existence before coming to earth, that we were spirit children of our Heavenly Father and that we lived with Him, and even knew our family and some close friends during this time, that we may have even chosen to be together as families here. So what I'm wondering is, do other religions believe this? That we lived with God, our Father, before coming to this world? I would assume so, because I hear many people refer to dying as "going home". Surely "home" wouldn't be somewhere you've never been. Any comments on this matter from those of other faiths would be appreciated. Thanks!)

As I've read this series, I've been so impressed at the change in my way of thinking as I imagine that we are truly sons and daughters of a King, and that our time on this earth is like a drop of dew that quickly evaporates as the sun rises. It's such a short period, a test, and if we succeed, we can meet The Lord at his throne and can speak of how we "fought the good fight".

Not only is this series inspirational, but it's immensely entertaining, and I would highly recommend it, to Mormons and non-Mormons alike.

About three years ago, just on a whim, I purchased an audio copy of "War of the Worlds". As we traveled to and from our small town in Mexico, I would play it for the kids in the van's CD player, and to my surprise, that absolutely devoured it. They begged to listen to it, they drew pictures of what they were hearing, and they talked about it for weeks, even years.

After thinking on how this series has inspired greater thinking in me, I found myself wishing that these books were on audio CD. Then the thought occurred to me, "Why couldn't I just read it to them? It's probably too advanced for the 10- and 8-year-olds to read by themselves, but if they understood Orson Wells, surely they could understand a mainstream LDS writer."

So tonight we did it. After carefully planning our evening, putting the baby, the twins and the 4-year-old boy to bed on time, we sat together and I read to my children for twenty minutes. I told that 14- and 15-year-olds that they didn't have to listen if they didn't want to, but they never did leave the room, and listened closely as they remained still.

When I was finished reading, I asked each of them if they enjoyed it, and without hesitation, they all said yes. And my kids aren't ones to lie about something like that. If they don't like something, I know about it.

So I totally felt like Laura Ingall's mother or someone wholesome and old-fashioned like that. I can definitely see us continuing this on a nightly basis, and I'm definitely looking forward to doing it in front of a crackling fire place in a few weeks.

We think we don't have time for things like this, but if we plan, ration, and commit ourselves, we can do things we feel are right for our families. As moms, we carry much guilt for what we don't do right, but if we know something will benefit our family, we can find a way to make it work and feel good about that one thing. Then do it again with something else, and feel good about that, until you just have one major feel-good party.

Thanks for listening. :)


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10 comments:

RhondaLue said...

We've also been without any tv, not quite as long as you have, about a year for us. It's actually not nearly as traumatic as I thought it would be. I do miss a couple shows but if I really want to see them or have time while folding laundry I can watch a few episodes on hulu.com

Taking the media out of our home has actually been a big blessing. I've always read to my kids but we read MORE now, and like you, we read more in-depth books even with the little ones. And if there is something on the tv, it's because we mindfully selected a movie that we own to watch. Mindless tv time is a real problem these days, and was for us before we cut it off.

My kids are coloring and drawing more, being more imaginative, and interacting with each other more. They aren't asking for this toy or that toy due to being inundated with advertisements. They don't accidentally catch some horrific story on the news that frightens them. I am glad we made the choice to get rid of it as painful a decision as it was at first! :)

Lynn said...

I too cut TV out of my life three years ago. It's so freeing and wonderful. I never forced the rest of my family to do so......but by my example I have noticed that they too watch less and less. It's been a HUGE blessing in our home as well.

Now when we happen to be at other people's homes and see the occasional show on TV that we use to watch.....it's rather shocking to the system. It just goes to show me (and proof of the studies) that we were slowly being desensitized to some of the "scum" coming through that tube. It's like the slow and unnoticeable "boil of the frogs in the pot" analogy.

Christine said...

Reading to your kids at any age is one of the most important things you can do, they get so much more that just a story out of this quality time!

I could go on and list all the benefits, but they are not as important as the time reading with your kids.

You daughter said...

Thats awesome mama. I wish someone would read to me! Actually i like reading things to myself because then i can pause and ponder and not have to keep up! But i listen to the radio all the time (npr) and on sundays they do a storytelling thing thats awesome.anyways, i know what you're saying about the kids being glued to the tv. I haven't had a tv in two years also and whenever j and i go somewhere there is a tv he is totally glued to it. If there is a tv in any restaurants we go to i make sure we sit out of view.so ya, that sounds fun and old fashioned. And in the winter you can make hot chocolate!

Cassie said...

I am soo tempted to discontect the tv but my husband just would not be able to get on board. He'd miss all his sports! I definitely just have to make more time for reading to the kids though.

abbigail said...

I would love to but my husband also feels like he needs it. He pays the bills and works long hours so I feel if that is his way to unwind thats fine. But I try and keep the tv off as much as possible. Way to go I think families bond more when there is not tv either. As far as the mormon beliefs go I do not believe on some of it for myself. I think I refer to heaven as going home because that is ultimately going to be my home. I feel it is an expression. Thats where we belong and usually where you belong is home. I love that you stand up for your beliefs and share them with others. I have always been curious about the LDS. I do like a lot of the things the mormon church encourages. I like the 2 yr mission work I think that if more people did that we would have a lot more peace. There are a lot more things that I completely love about how you live and prepare etc. I enjoy reading your blog.

Denise said...

Oh, I loved that book series! I'm pretty skeptical about LDS fiction in general (most of it just isn't good), but the Great and the Terrible kept me turning pages.

Jenna said...

From what I understand and have studied, our belief in a premortal life is a doctrine unique to the Mormon faith among other Christian religions. Seems so common-sense, though, doesn't it?

I've heard great things about this book series. Must read!

The Mama Bird said...

I'm a first-time visitor and just wanted to tell you first of all that I think it's great you've gone two years without TV! We should ALL do that, really. TV is good-for-nothing, or at the very most, good-for-little. ;)

And my two-cents worth on pre-mortal life... I'm a Protestant Christian, and we don't believe in pre-mortal life. As far as I can remember, the Bible doesn't ever speak of this, which tells me it isn't so. The idea of heaven being our "home" comes from the fact that, because we are created in the image of God, for Him and by Him, and because this earth is so filled with evil, we will never feel completely "at home" here on earth. The Bible also speaks of God "planting eternity in the human heart", which I've always understood and heard to mean that God created us with a longing for heaven. Thus, heaven is our TRUE home.

Really, I don't necessarily think that what you believe is a bad thing. It's just not what I believe simply because the Bible doesn't say it is so. But I am curious to hear any sciptural references you might have to support this belief! Please share (if you have the time, of course)! And thanks for letting me share my 2-cents. :)

Great blog! Glad I popped by! :)

Wife to the Rockstar said...

Totally wish we could go without TV. Maybe....