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Home > Support > Family Life > How did you come to the decision to be TV free?
Question: In one of your newsletters, Rita, you mention that your home is without a TV. We have periodically, over the years put the TV away. Unfortunately, we drift back to watching more and more. I enjoy having it for certain things, but with a large family the difficulty arises when different age groups want to watch different types of things. We do only offer a narrow range of possibilities since there is very little on TV that is decent, but I quickly get to feeling that it is always on. Could you describe how you made the decision to be TV free? Did you get rid of it one day or did you start out without one?

Dear Mom,

Thank you so much for your letter. I wish that we were in the same room with other like-minded women and could discuss this very timely and important question. But until the Lord blesses us with such a gift let's see what we can do. I will give you my take on television.

Our family has not had the television for nearly 17 years. When the first of our 10 children outgrew Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers, television just went away. One day we just disconnected the cable and canceled the service. Though we kept the television itself, it was stored in a closet for the longest time until we bought a VCR.

I have never been much of a television viewer. I do not have the patience for all the commercial interruptions and nonsense that invariably comes through into our home. My husband feels the same way. There was always something that needed doing and sitting still in front of a foolish program just seemed wasteful.

Understand that this is in my upbringing. When I was growing up, television was treated like an appliance. It was only turned on for certain programs. These were programs that we watched together as a family. I Love Lucy, Ed Sullivan, and Red Skeleton (my dad's all-time favorite show). Television viewing during the day was never allowed. My mother's mantra was "Get outside and play."

One of my treasured memories took place when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade. I was home sick with the flu and my mother allowed me to watch her soap opera, As The World Turns, with her. She always watched this program when she did the ironing or mending. That was the only time I can ever recall watching television during the afternoon.

When I went to nursing school, it seems that all the other students enjoyed this program as well. Every afternoon we would gather during our lunch break in the Den Room of our dorm and watch this soap opera instead of going to lunch in the hospital cafeteria. Invariably Sister Helen Marie would march into the room and look at all of us glued to the television and mutter something about goats and then say "Everyone outside and get some fresh air before you return to work."

My children would probably watch television if it were possible. However I do not know where we would find the time. Last night we didn't get into bed until midnight. They were busy with crafts, making a movie, and practicing the piano. All of my children have been blest with marvelous imaginations. It is amazing how much imagination you can develop when you have to entertain yourself.

I feel very strongly about protecting childhood innocence. It is my personal belief that television viewing has the great potential to rob our children of their innocence. I feel that their imaginations are better nurtured through active play and activity that they themselves generate.

When the college people come home they bring with them taped off shows that they like to rewatch. However they are respectful of our feelings and do not put these programs on until the little people are in bed. I will tell you that all of the children are fairly addicted to reading. They can not stand being without a book to read. It is so wonderful to walk into the front room and see everyone reading. When our granddaughter comes to visit, she prefers being read to instead of watching movies. She always brings a stack of books that are read and reread throughout her stay.

Because we feel so strongly about the adverse effects of watching television, my husband and I stand firm on this issue.

I appreciate your wisdom and your desire to change your family's television viewing habits. It is obvious that the Holy Spirit is gently empowering you with thoughts about this important issue. Our children are precious. Their minds, hearts, and spirits are ours to guard and protect. I would not feed my children something that I perceived to be unhealthy, nor would I allow their minds to be filled with thoughts or images that I perceive to be harmful.

When my children become famous and write their books about their childhood I am certain there will be a chapter dedicated to me and my feelings about television. :)

Jesus, we love You dearly and long to see Your face. Jesus, please send the wisdom that is of the Holy Spirit as we go about our lives and the responsibility of nurturing the gift of childhood within our children. Guide us gently toward those lifestyles and habits that will indeed bring our children closer to You. Help us, Lord, and give us the clear knowledge that You are ever close to us throughout our days. Amen.

Sending out a prayer,

Rita Munn

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