Television Unfit?

Children love television they spend hours watching programming specifically targeting them. As parents we have an obligation to protect our children but are we doing enough? One parent has a few words of caution for parents everywhere.

After recently watching a good amount of television programming, I question whether a TV has a place in a home with children — unless it is heavily supervised, monitored, and controlled. That assumes parents are paying attention. If they’re not — then the TV needs to go, and so does the computer.

This may seem a little off-topic to a homeschool discussion. However, I believe that as homeschooling parents we must create an environment in our homes that supports the development of the human beings we are trying to raise. Think about that for a minute before you read on. What qualities and characteristics do you hope to encourage as your children grow? Make a list — and then use it as a guideline when trying to figure out what in your home supports the development of those qualities and traits — and what doesn’t.

Family programming

My husband and I were watching American Idol recently. (I admit it, I’m a complete sucker for that show). It’s billed as a “family” show. However, most of the contestants filmed during the “audition weeks” provide a glaring example of the detrimental influence of pop culture on young Americans. Most are clueless numbskulls with potty mouths.

If your children are watching this show, be very careful. Kids don’t have the same filters as adults. They may not understand that when a contestant says, “F#@%, Simon, he can kiss my a#@,” — even if the “bad” words are bleeped — it is not an appropriate response in a civilized society. (If you think it is, then God help us all.)

Take a break from commercials

But it’s not just the programming. On this particular night, I was paying attention to the commercials and was surprised by how graphic some of them are in sexual content, violence, and grisly murder scenes.

I’m no prude, but I don’t want my 6-year-old watching close-up, slobbery tongue-action and body-groping as a teaser for a television show. (And if your young children have watched girls-gone-wild video commercials – shame on you for allowing it.)

I’ve watched CSI and Criminal Minds — but I don’t think children should watch those shows. Parents are supposed to protect their children. What possible argument could you use to justify exposing kids to images of mutilated corpses and abhorrent, deviant criminal behavior? And don’t tell me it’s part of your child’s forensic science curriculum.

The degradation of women

I also question why the women scientists and FBI agents portrayed in these shows always go to work in blouses and t-shirts that expose their cleavage (to put it mildly). Isn’t this a direct contradiction to the national obsession with sexual harassment in the workplace? Does anyone remember the women’s rights movement? You think burka-wearing women in the Middle East have it bad? I think seeing women portrayed as breast-baring teases is worse. (And don’t get me started on the current fad of pole-dancing for exercise portrayed on TV. Maypole? Yes. Stripper’s pole? No.) Anyone have any idea what message this sends to our little girls and little boys?

A pill for everything

As if those trends in television weren’t bad enough, big pharma commercials plug every kind of drug imaginable for every weird malady on the planet — can there really be that many people suffering from “Restless Leg Syndrome”?

Not only that, the way people are depicted in commercials is troubling. We’re all-consuming dimwits who only care about feeling and looking good, getting stuff, and partying.

Middle-aged women have no dignity — they only care about botoxing their wrinkles away (and their facial expressions along with them), or trying to attract the attention of the “pool boy” via a slimmer bod — if we are to believe Kirstie Alley’s (age 55) Jenny Craig pitch!

The obsession with cars as a statement of success or even more unbelievably as a way to show your smug environmental awareness is just wrong on so many levels.

The idea that diamonds are the singular expression of love is particularly annoying. Your relationship is worthless unless you can flaunt it encased in gold and set with three full-carats. Do you really buy into that crap? Do you want your kids to think it’s true?

If I have to watch that cruise commercial one more time that suggests the whole reason the family went on the cruise was to get their bratty tween daughter to quit acting out and smile occasionally, I’m going to throw my shoe through the TV!

Commercials make universal assumptions about people based on research. If this is what our culture accepts and condones — why would thinking homeschool parents ever expose their kids to it? I’m serious.

All of these things were aired during prime time — when I know families with young children are watching. Kids are sponges and absorb everything in their environment — they are even sensitive to your reaction to what you see on TV. You may have desensitized yourself to commercials and television programming, but your children haven’t. If you don’t flinch or comment at the images and messages projected — what are they to think?

Taking control back

I know some of you are very careful about exposing your kids to television content. Some of you don’t even own a television. Some only watch pre-screened videos or PBS programs. Some of you have “TIVO” technology so you can fast-forward through the commercials. Some “mute” the TV during commercials. The technology is available to protect our children, but it still requires parental vigilance. If you’re not paying attention when the TV is on, then your kids are at risk.

My family never watched much TV. (Yeah, yeah, I know that’s what everyone says — but in our case it was true). Now that my sons are away at college, I have watched more television — and I’m sorry to say the messages haven’t improved. They have gotten much worse. I just hope for the children’ sake, you are monitoring very closely what they see on TV. The success of your parenting and homeschooling depends on it.

Diane Flynn Keith
Homefires Editor

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Missing Children

In recent years we’ve heard a great deal about missing and exploited children. As any parent can testify our heart goes out to that family, when ever a child is missing. It’s your worst nightmare come true.

What if the state removes a child from their home without just cause? Without following proper investigative procedures? What if the state then takes further unfair advantage of a family by publicly charging a parent with kidnapping?

If you think it can’t happen. Think again.

As a previous foster child, who has witnessed first-hand the games social workers play with the emotions of children and their parents, I wish I could tell you it’s a rare occasion, but that would be a lie.

A quick glance on the Child Abduction Section of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s website will show the truth.

Child abduction is a serious and traumatic crime. While everyone has become aware of  frightening “stranger kidnappings,” abductions are most often carried out by people who  know the child. The District Attorney’s Office is committed to combating both types of  abductions and to protecting the custody rights of parents and legal guardians throughout  Los Angeles County.

While I certainly can sympathize with any parent who’s child is missing. One parents rights do not take precedence over the others’. This is why divorce is such a terrible thing. A child can not be split in half. In most cases, the non-custodial parent is not a threat to the well-being of the child.

Let’s focus on those cases where the child has been “kidnapped” from the state. The child has been ripped from their mothers arms, the only security he/she has ever known and  placed into foster care.

A reasonable person would argue, that the parents must have done something wrong. The state doesn’t just come in a steal a child for no apparent reason.

You are right, of course.

Government Supported Kidnapping

The state doesn’t just take a child for no reason, they take them for a much more sinister reason. Money! We aren’t talking just a few bucks here and there. We are talking about a billion dollar industry, compliments of our Federal Government.

Warehousing children has become big business over the past twenty years.

For fiscal year 1998,  Federal expenditures to States for major child welfare programs  exceeded $4.5 billion. This figure includes child welfare services, foster care,  adoption assistance, and family preservation and support, but excludes Medicaid dollars, an important source of treatment funding for children and families.

Parental Abduction

Every last child on display has been abducted by a parent, not a stranger.

It’s a perfect racket, really. Children are abducted by “caseworkers”  on a flimsy excuse such as having a “dirty house” or “educational  neglect,” then placed in foster care. The state receives money for each child  placed into the system, they are paid again when the child is moved and yet again, when that child is adopted.

The worst part is that low or modest income families are most often targeted, in courts  set-up to prevent justice from taking place. Parents are gag-ordered by the judge and  prevented from talking about their case — to “protect the  child’s  privacy.”

The parents are often forced to submit to psychological evaluations, at their own  expense — which they most likely can not afford, by psychologists who are on the  courts payroll and find in the courts favor every time.

If a family is provided legal council the attorney is often ill prepared at best,  in the courts debt at worst, and at times refuses to do even the least bit of  research on the families behalf.

Financial Ruin

A family who was barely making ends meet before the children were abducted, now finds themselves  in dire straights, putting everything on the line for that chance the court will find mercy  and return their children.

If the parents are lucky enough to have the children returned, the family is often totally destroyed. The children, traumatized by their ordeal, are unable to sleep, revert to bed-wetting  if they were potty trained, are terrified of being removed again. They often lash-out at anyone  and everyone.

Their trust in their parent has been destroyed. Their secure little world has been ruptured. They now know their parent is powerless to protect them. Most will require many years of therapy and life will never again be the same for them.

I have purposely avoided using specific case histories here. Not because they don’t exist, because they do, in the hundreds of thousands, each and every year. However, the individual stories are in many cases so outlandish as to be considered fantasy. I can assure you this is far from fantasy and is in fact, a parents worst nightmare.

You are probably wondering what you can do. You can start by questioning every story you see in the media. Ask yourself…What details have they left out? What aren’t they telling us? The media puts a slant on every story they report, often omitting vital facts of the case.

If you know someone who has lost their children to the state, be there for them. Lend them moral support. Offer to go to court with them, be a character witness and write letters.

Parents are not perfect and often make mistakes in their parenting. The vast majority are not monsters and want the same things you want for your children.

It is not a crime to be poor. Support parents rights.