Don’t watch life ... live it! ~ Daphne Miller, MD, CNN.com

In an article by Dr. Daphne Miller on CNN’s internet website, she questions the habits of parents who let their children watch much television. Declaring the harm most television does to our children, she amazingly encourages parents to remove this distraction from their children’s lives, or limit it to viewing less TV per day.

According to this doctor, television is credited with giving children poor school performance, violent behavior, obesity, and daytime sleepiness from late night viewing.

Well, our family seemed to be consumed. From no television when we lived "out on the farm," to turning on the videos to babysit our special needs child, I was allowing more into our lives than I admitted or wanted. We don’t get TV channels, but do have an array of videos we watch.

Mark, my husband, was raised with the television continually on as background noise. I was raised in foreign countries during a time when these places had no TV access. Hence, Mark has a high tolerance for television viewing. I have very little.

So, how do we, as moms, as dads, as couples, come to grips with this little box which has invaded our lives? How do we heed the doctor’s advice, honor our spouses, and help our children become healthy citizens when they grow up?

Well, we are once again choosing to live life on purpose. To decide what we want for our family. To settle our convictions on what we value? What will help the children know God more and find His purpose for their lives? What helps them become the best people they can become?

As I mulled over these questions, I sought out my husband as a sounding board. I sat in his office and confessed to my beloved, "I like my children more when they aren’t influenced by what’s on the tube, even if it’s videos." He nodded, absorbing the information. "I’m a better mom when they are kinder to each other. And they aren’t as kind when they have gadgets to play, and they are watching others’ lives and not living their own." He listened, assimilating this data. "When they’re in the same room, watching the TV, they aren’t interacting. They aren’t sharing. They aren’t living with each other. They’re merely existing!" Having analyzed my input, he smiled. I do have a flair for the dramatic.

But, he saw my point, and heard my heart. He, who is gone for the majority of each day, was sensing I needed his assistance. I needed his wisdom to give me a solution. His backing when there was possible mutiny from the underlings.

And once again my hero, my Knight in Shining Armor, came through. And with such a simple idea. He suggested we take a month off of viewing. Perhaps a family movie once a week. But, turn off the videos. No more Game Boys®. Let the computer games sit, except for the educational ones for help with their school.

So, we had a family council, including the youngest to the oldest – all were invited. We wanted to share our hearts and thoughts with them, to get their feedback, and come to a corporate decision – hopefully, the one we had planned.

We talked, we discussed, and went back and forth. I shared the doctor’s article with them, and they really listened. There wasn’t any real negotiation and they all agreed to try it for a while. A month. On the calendar.

So a week ago we began. And do you know what? The children are loving it. Mark and I are enjoying it. We sit around the fireplace, reading, knitting, playing chess and checkers. The children are reading more, and reading to each other – a mother’s dream come true. And, surprisingly, I’m reading more, too. Additionally, we’re all talking to each other in greater amounts – paragraphs, not mere sentences. Interacting. Learning once again to live kindly with siblings and with parents. And we have added a daily workout program early in the mornings, before Mark’s commute to work and our day’s schedule begins. There were great benefits all around – and we all won, not just me.

How long will our visual media fast last you might ask? I don’t know. But with all of the dividends I’ve seen in just one week, I’m voting for a starvation diet. We are choosing to take responsibility for our time and lives and not just watch other people’s sagas on the tube. To make our own dreams come true. How can Hollywood ever beat that?


Kym & Mark are very busy raising their eight children. Wanting to encourage other mothers to thrive and not just survive, she writes and sends out weekly email e-Couragement for moms in her Weekly Wakeup with Kym Wright. For more information and to sign up, visit: http://alwrightpublishing.com/weekly_wakeup.htm

Published in The Mother’s Heart magazine, a premium online publication for mothers with hearts in their homes. Visit www.The-Mothers-Heart.com for more information.