Fireplace instead of television

Raising kids with no- or low-TV.
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Fireplace instead of television

Post by jlotus » Wed Mar 08, 2006 8:12 pm

I just discovered your organization tonight while trying to find statistics
on how many Americans do not own televisions. I was so thrilled to read
that 4.5 million Americans do NOT watch television, which I assume means
they do not OWN a television. What great news!

My 15 year old daughter Claire and I have lived without a television for
almost 5 years. I LOVE not having a television and love hearing my daughter
explain to people with great pride that we do not own a television.

We do, however, have a great wood burning fireplace which we start using as
soon as the weather turns cool. One of my all time favorite activities is
sitting in front of the fireplace with a great book, either reading to
myself or reading to my daughter. I have been reading to her since she was
born and now SHE reads to ME! We also both write, and then read each other
what we have written and oh boy is THAT fun!

Keep up the great work of helping liberate the world from the terrible
tyranny of the Idiot Box.

Leslie Caplan (and Claire, too)
St. Louis MO

P.S. My husband came with a television, and when he made his departure, I
made sure that the television went with him.


Post by bfermanich2 » Fri Aug 11, 2006 5:17 pm

Congraduations on lasting that long without a TV! You are an inspiration for me and my family. I am married with a 9 month old and hopefully many more on the way, and we fully intend to not raise them on TV. People think we're stupid, my colleagues at work say I'm getting left behind, but I just tell them that 'you are what you eat'. There's no way I would let the kind of violence, sex, and immoral behavior thats standard on the TV into my home and let my little girl absorb it all up. Its insane to think I would allow those kinds of horrible things into my home.

Congrats and good luck!
-Marietta, GA

Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2005 10:52 pm
Location: Brookline, MA


Post by lydia » Sat Aug 12, 2006 1:52 pm

Hi Brad,

Congrats on your new baby!

As I read your post, I was struck by how your feelings about tv mirror my own. It got me to you think having a child makes a person more or less likely to turn off tv?

In my own case, having a baby changed my whole outlook. In my child-free days, I was definitely a tv addict. There was always a tv on at my house and I frittered away many hours in front of the box. I simply couldn't fathom life without television.

But when my little girl came into my life, I suddenly felt the need to re-evaluate my life. Simply put, my child made me want to be a better person. Reading lots of parenting books also made me much more aware of the negative effects of television on children. The more I read about predatory marketing techniques and the impact of tv sex and violence on children, and girls in particular, the more determined I became to keep my kids away from tv as much as possible.

I soon realized, however, that I would have to practice what I preached. I couldn't very well ask my kids to not watch tv if I was watching tv myself. So I gave it up altogether.

I can't begin to emphasize how hard this was for me in the beginning. Now, though, I rarely even think about it. My life is so full of other things I wonder how I ever had time to watch tv. And my girls - now I have 2 - never even think to ask to watch tv. It just doesn't occur to them. Even when we go to a hotel or a house where there's a tv, my kids never ask to watch it. In fact, they behave as if that box just isn't there at all. It's amazing.

Of course, I know people who went the other way entirely. They depend on tv and videos to keep their kids entertained so they can have some grown-up time. For them, tv is a crutch. Their kids are constantly demanding more time in front of the screen.

So I don't know. For some people, it seems having a child makes the parents more likely to turn to the tv for relief. For others, like me, having a child instills a desire to get rid of tv altogether (or perhaps, in some cases, to severely limit tv for their kids).

I've had many people say to me, "Your kids are going to be social outcasts when they're older. All the other kids will be talking about tv shows and your kids won't know what they're talking about." To be honest, I do worry about that sometimes. I wonder how many parents are persuaded by this argument to keep tv in their kids' lives.

But here's what I think:
Many if not most people in the U.S. are overweight or obese, in debt up to their ears, sedentary and poorly educated. So if you want to be happy and healthy and financially secure in this society, you just *can't* live like everyone else. You have to do something differently. Now, I'm not saying TV is entirely responsible for all these problems but I doubt anyone would suggest it doesn't play a part. At the very least, if you get rid of tv you have time and a clear head to think about strategies for solving your other problems. For example, turning off the tv allowed me to come up with a weight loss plan (I've now lost almost 20 pounds) so I'm no longer overweight.

At the same time, I must admit feeling very left out of conversations with friends who seem to have nothing else to talk about but the shows they watch. It's very isolating and a bit depressing. Sometimes I'll sit for a half an hour just listening to them go on and on about television shows. And even when the conversation isn't focused on a tv show, these friends somehow manage to slip in all these references to shows as little inside jokes. Well, perhaps it isn't fair to call these "inside jokes" since everyone gets it but me. I hate to think my girls will have to go through this sort of thing with their friends, too.

So I'm ambivalent but deep down I'm convinced I'm making the right choice. Maybe I *am* setting up my kids to be outcasts but maybe being an outcast - at least in today's world - isn't so bad. It's better to be off on your own than to walk off the cliff with all the other lemmings!

Anyway, just a few thoughts.

Good luck with your new baby, Brad!



Post by bfermanich2 » Tue Aug 15, 2006 4:39 pm

Hey Lydia,
Congraduations on your two little girls!.. and trying to raise them in a TV-less world. I thought your post was very thoughtful and got me to thinking as well. I for one believe that becoming a parent has made me much more sensitive and aware of the dangers our society poses to impressionable children. But before our child came I was fully immersed in the media culture. I kept up with shows. I scheduled my evenings around different programs. But this seemed to change when I got married. When my wife and I got married we bought a house together and while moving in we never got around to hooking up the cable - not because we wanted to protect ourselves but because we were busy with other things. We told ourselves we would eventually get to it after things settled down, but it never happened. Two years later we still don't have any TV (not even the 3-4 poor reception channels because its unplugged from the antenna!). I think it was the best decision we've made so far.

I totally agree with you when it comes to raising children. And I've also thought about the implications of our daughter not being "socially processed" through the mass media. But I've decided that I don't care. Why? Because of many of the same reasons you gave. Our world is headed down a path I don't want to go. And its going to take change to turn things around. I've heard nothing but success stories of parents raising their kids without TV. Not that its the absolute answer to all of our problems. But its more of a philosophy. For example, we don't want our little girl dressing immodesly. We don't want her to grow up too fast. We don't want her to be rude or impolite to adult company. We want her to be imaginative. We want her to be unselfish. We want her to be active and not sloth. We don't want to teach her that life is just about acquiring things. We don't want her to develop a consumerist mentality where only material possessions can make you "happy". We don't want her desensitized to violence and sexuality. We want her to enter into a good marriage one day that will last a lifetime, if it is God's will.

The amazing part is that doing just one thing (turning off the TV) can help with actualizing all of these things. If sacrificing my child's "social awareness" or whatever means that she will become a better person, I will gladly do it. Just as you said, it truely is amazing to me how people will frame most of their conversations around subjects involving the mass media. Have we forgotten to talk about anything but this? Its frightening to me. The mass media has reached a point in our society where it trumps all other things. Many people are incapable of making a joke about something that doesn't involve something they saw on TV, or saw on the internet, or saw in a movie, or heard in a song. I don't advocate we all ditch this world and become Amish, but there is a lack of moderation in the world.

Anyway, good luck with your kids Lydia! I hope you can find other parents who agree with you and maybe you can support each other. We have a small circle of friends with kids who may not all be completely anti-TV but at least they share our values. Its my hope that your little girls will make friends with others who have grown up the same way.

God bless and take care!

Dry Lips
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2009 9:47 am


Post by Dry Lips » Tue Oct 06, 2009 11:20 am

We do, however, have a great wood burning fireplace which we start using as soon as the weather turns cool. One of my all time favorite activities is sitting in front of the fireplace with a great book, either reading to myself or reading to my daughter. I have been reading to her since she was born and now SHE reads to ME! We also both write, and then read each other what we have written and oh boy is THAT fun!
A little apropo about fireplaces and television... I read a notice in the local newspaper some time ago about an emergency call to the fire department. The person warned about a burning television in the house of his neighbor. When they came to the place the burning television turned out to be a television screen that showed a dvd with flames.
The moral in the story must be that it doesn't pay to replace reality with a mediated verson...

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