Sunday, July 14, 2013

Setting Boundaries

"Just 5 more minutes," my 10 year old son, H. said, "please can I stay and watch just 5 more minutes."
"No, I'm sorry," I said, "we're leaving now."
It was late on Saturday night, after 9:30 at night.
"Oh come on," my mother in law said, "let him just watch 5 more minutes of television."
I looked at her and gave her a stern look. "No, he doesn't know what 5 more minutes is, as far as he is concerned he would like to stay and watch television for another hour."
"But I just wanted him to leave happy," my mother in law said.
H. had stayed at his grandparents for the weekend. He packed up his stuff and we went home. After getting in the car, he had already forgotten about his request to stay another 5 minutes.

I asked my wife about the divergent approaches between the generations.
"Look when I grew up, we were free. We stayed up as late as we wanted to watch television and ate what we wanted. Now it's different. There are so many more enticements to lure our children, there is no end. I knew that after Dynasty that was it, no more shows and I went to sleep. Now it's shows on cable, the internet, YouTube - it's overwhelming."
"So it was Ok that I told your mother that we had to go?"
"Yes, it's just different points of view. Different generations."

The enticements that tempt are children are all around. Either they want to get on the computer, or have the tablet computer, or get in the car and go somewhere and be on the iPhone. There are no natural boundaries of television schedules or reception to confine these devices to a certain space and time.  We, the parents, need to be especially vigilant in maintaining boundaries so as to not overwhelm our children by all the attractions and entertainment of the world.

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