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I was in a restaurant recently with my teenage daughter. There was a family of five sitting very close to us. The parents and all three teenagers had their noses buried in their phones texting, surfing or answering e-mail. There was complete silence as each was in their own little world.
How sad I was thinking that we are allowing the art of conversation to slip by in the next generation of kids. Our house rule is no electronics when we eat. No phones, computer or even the TV. When we are at restaurants, phones are put aside while we wait for our food. And we embark on the old fashion entertainment of talking about our day.
However; I will come clean that when my daughter was in elementary school I bought her a Nintendo DS and when we would travel 4 hours to have dinner with my 95+ year old grandmother and my 85+ Aunt (the youngster Grandmother called her). After the waiter cleared the table of dessert plates, I would pull out my daughters DS to keep her entertained while we continued to visit over coffee refills.
The horror on my Grandmother and Aunts face the first time I did this was priceless. But after visiting for another 45 minutes, my Aunt did comment that the DS was a good investment whatever the cost. And indeed it was.
I am also one of ‘those’ mothers that also bans ALL television Monday – Thursday during the school season. And ALL television means my daughter AND me. I started this when she was in third grade and she’s a teenager now.
I had two reasons for it. First is that homework was never getting started until ‘the next commercial’ or if I stated no television until homework was done. My daughter rushed through homework just to be able to watch more TV.
The second reason is that we don’t see each other all day. My idea of quality time isn’t us sitting at home in different rooms each watching our different shows until bedtime. So off went the TV.
The first year I did this was not enjoyable for the first two months. Every night was the battle on her desire to watch TV and how she was going to be the ONLY child in school who didn’t know what happened on whatever popular show they discussed. I will admit I had my TV withdrawals as well.
Then we started doing projects in the evening. It began with playing board games or running down to the local craft store to buy supplies for an art project. We also both discovered the joy of simply sitting on the sofa together reading our favorite books with a cup of chamomile tea. Overtime our evenings filled with lots of activities we mostly do together; we love each other’s company.
Now, no TV is just a fact of our life during school season. For me, I watch virtually no TV all year. It amazes me that at one time on average I use to watch 4-5 hours a night of TV. That’s about 30-35 hours a week! Today my life is filled with activities; I’m engaged with my life and I love it.