• Family values revisited
    June 30,2014

    The majority of “experts” think that a TV/video-driven culture adversely affects kids. A long-term study conducted by the Millennium Cohort and published in 2013

    found that TV exposes children to negative influences, and promotes negative behavior. Impressionable minds learn from TV that violence is the way to resolve conflict.

    Many of these same experts suggest kids turn off the TV and pick up a book. I tried using this alternative form

    of entertainment when my sons were young many years ago. I remember as if it were only yesterday pulling Matt, Collin and Ben — ages 10, 7 and 4 — away from their spots in front of the TV for a coerced literary break from the boob tube. It went something like this:

    Me: OK, Let’s start with Jack and the Beanstalk. Once upon a time there was a boy named Jack, and ...

    Collin: Is this the one where the kid disobeys his mom and trades their cow for magic beans instead of food?

    Me: Uh, yes.

    Ben: Aren’t you supposed to listen to your parents?

    Me: You are, but ...

    Matt: And then Jack climbs the beanstalk and steals a goose and a harp from the giant.

    Ben: Why does he steal from the giant? Stealing is bad.

    Me: This is different. You see, Jack doesn’t like the giant ...

    Ben: So we can steal stuff from people we don’t like?

    Me: Not exactly ...

    Collin: And then, just because the giant is trying to get his own things back, Jack kills him.

    Matt: Wow, Dad. I never really thought about it but the hero of the story lies, steals, and murders someone.

    Me: OK, maybe we’ll hold off on Jack and the Beanstalk. How about Goldilocks and the Three Bears?

    Collin: Oh, the story where the girl breaks into the bears’ house!

    Me: She’s just paying an unexpected visit ...

    Collin: But isn’t breaking into a house against the law?

    Me: She doesn’t actually break into the house…

    Matt: Yes, she does. And then she steals their food.

    Me: “Steal” is an awfully strong word, Matt; I think she was tasting it.

    Ben: But you said we’re not allowed to taste the grapes in the store because they don’t belong to us.

    Me: That’s different ...

    Collin: Why is it different? The food doesn’t belong to Goldilocks.

    Matt: She vandalizes the house, too.

    Ben: What do you mean?

    Matt: She wrecks the furniture.

    Me: It’s no big deal. She accidently breaks a rocking chair.

    Ben: You should always tell your parents if you break something.

    Collin: Goldilocks doesn’t tell anyone, and when the bears come home they’re really mad and they chase her away.

    Ben: Do bears chase little kids in real life?

    Me: Forget Goldilocks. Let’s read Little Red Riding Hood.

    Collin: That’s the one about the wolf who eats the grandmother, dresses up as an old lady, and lies to Little Red Riding Hood, right?

    Matt: What’s it called when a man dresses up in women’s clothes?

    Me: Never mind…

    Matt: Oh yeah, a disguise.

    Ben: He eats the grandmother?

    Me: It’s OK, a hunter comes along, cuts open the wolf’s stomach, and sets her free.

    Collin: Cool!

    Ben: Does the wolf get stitches?

    Me: I don’t think so. Let’s try one more time … how about Hansel and Gretel?

    Collin: Oh, that’s the story about the parents who can no longer take care of their two kids so they make them get lost in the woods on purpose.

    Ben: You wouldn’t do that, would you dad?

    Me: No, no.

    Matt: And Hansel and Gretel run into an old lady who makes a house out of candy just so she can trick little kids and catch them.

    Ben: You’re not supposed to take candy from strangers.

    Matt: That’s right, Ben.

    Collin: But Hansel and Gretel do, anyway.

    Ben: Even though they’re not supposed to?

    Me: I think they were just sampling one of the shutters ...

    Matt: Doesn’t the old lady turn out to be a witch who locks them up in iron cages and forces them to eat so they get real fat?

    Collin: Yeah! So she can eat them for dinner!

    Ben: What do kids taste like?

    Me: Well, I suppose it depends on how you prepare them…

    Collin: And then, just before she kills them, Hansel and Gretel shove the witch into a hot oven and she burns to death…

    Matt: Read that one, Dad. It’s pretty good.

    Me: You know, I have a better idea guys. Let’s go see what’s on TV...

    Mark S. Albury lives in Northfield Falls.

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