Saturday, December 11, 2010

on shepherding and the TV

Mary will turn four years old in several days.  While she as recently as a month ago would involve herself diligently in building train tracks, Tinkertoy creations, and rudimentary Lincoln Log structures, more recently, she'd just as soon watch a library Dora DVD.  I'm still not sure what precipitated this change.

Was it a symptom of internal stress?  Peter's rather sudden OCD symptoms turned the whole household into a bundle of nerves; only recently have things returned to a semblance of normalcy.

Yet even with milder moods becoming the rule, Mary is still wanting to waste her life away with Dora.  At first I allowed two full videos (not at one sitting), more because I was under stress due to Peter's symptoms.  I wanted to rock the boat, so to speak, as little as possible.

As far as media use goes around here, I don't need to worry about computers.  The kids use the computer as entertainment infrequently, due to lack of software.  It's more a source of information only and isn't overused.

And during the warmer months they played outside so much I didn't need to worry about their library-media viewing.  Now, it's cold outside--time-consuming bundling required.  While they're still playing out there daily, it isn't for extended or multiple periods--maybe sixty minutes total.

The boys are now asking for more library videos/DVD's, and in the last four days, I've acquiesced.

And tonight, I feel horrible.  Just like the laziest, most selfish parent around. Yes, when they watch something, it's rather convenient, notwithstanding the fact that the baby behaves far worse when the TV is on, because there's less interaction for her.

I know better.  I know the result of too much TV.  It breeds idiocy, lack of creativity, lack of responsiveness to life and to the environment, and to poor thinking and problem-solving skills.  It also leads to addiction to entertainment, which is a horrible folly.  Entertainment can rob our children, and ourselves, of godliness.

It's amazing how we try to rationalize things in the heat of the moment, isn't it?

Good, solid parenting involves self-sacrifice.  Resolve.  Letting go of our own agendas--even if they seem like good ones (like when you're behind on chores).

We have to fight for their hearts and minds; never wearying.  We need to expect first-time obedience, even though getting it means we stay near our children most of the day.  They obey far better and display more respect when the parental voice and face is right there.  Think about it for a moment.  How many times have you had to repeat yourself, sometimes to the point of yelling, when giving orders from another room?  Often?

When we stay around and pay attention (herding principle--think of the crook in the shepherd's staff), we can speak softly but with authority, and stay calm. They will respond well as long as we consistently shepherd.  Nearby.

How does all this about shepherding relate to TV viewing and my four-year-old's recent Dora addiction?

Just this.  I became lazy.  Selfish.  I wanted to get things done instead of shepherd my children.  For shame, because that isn't why I stay home with these precious ones.  Not to have Dora babysit and steal away my child's heart and mind.  (I like Dora--don't get me wrong.  But thirty minutes a day is more than enough.)

I stay home to shepherd my flock.  And tomorrow, I'll get back to doing just that--perhaps starting by teaching them to do more chores.  I'm so busy because I'm doing too many chores and they're doing too few.

Simply making their beds, putting their dirty clothes in a hamper, and cleaning the playroom isn't enough for their ages (the boys), or for our busy family.  I need to take the time to train the boys to do dishes and some laundry.  Hard to do, yes, but I'm doing the whole family a disservice by not delegating more--and by not requiring them to develop higher levels of responsibility and maturity.

I credit this article with getting me back on track tonight.  Part of it deals with homeschooling, but further down it deals more with shepherding.  I found it to be an outstanding parenting resource.

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