Have I got news for you?

Posted on 13/07/2016 by Antenatal Online | Leave a Comment



Walking home from school yesterday I was surprised to learn that a friend doesnít allow her 8 year old girls to watch TV during the week, apart from the news while they eat their breakfast. Now I applaud the fact that TV is limited and I am impressed that they are expanding their horizons over their Cocopops while my two sit transfixed, slack jawed, by various kinds of crap. I must admit however that the thought of allowing my 8 year old to watch the actual grown up news brings me out in a rash. But now Iím questioning myself. Am I actually doing her any favours by protecting her from the world?

In my experience things rarely pan out as you thought they might pre-childbirth. Take, for example, this:

Fantasy: we sit nicely around a breakfast table munching thoughtfully on fruit and other healthy breakfast items, hair combed, teeth brushed, uniforms on, engaged in thought provoking discussion about our day/the world/life in general. The children finish eating, wash up their dishes and put their shoes on without me having to raise my voice even a tiny weeny bit;

Grim reality: I question why I never got round to buying a breakfast table as I stuff porridge into my mouth, while simultaneously making packed lunches and repeatedly yelling at the children to locate their shoes, pick up their breakfast plates from the arm of sofa and/or get dressed. Periodically I implore them to stop hitting each other whilst following them round with their respective toothbrushes. Sometimes I am to be found frantically waving Evieís homework in front of her face at 8.26am.

Which only serves to emphasise the fact that I need TV in the morning. I appear to be rubbish. I need to be able to run round and do all the things that more organised mothers apparently do the night before and therefore I donít have time to sit with them and make sure they havenít seen some dead children that they might want to discuss.

Which brings me nicely to my second objection to the grown up news plan: it seems to me that news has become a lot more graphic since I was 8. Murder, rape, terrorism, Nigel Farage Ė can an 8 year old really gain anything from knowing that these things are lurking?  She is already an anxious child so can it possibly do her any good to realise that there is actually way more stuff to worry about than she first thought?

She will one day learn that the world can be a scary place but do I want that day to be now? As it is I frequently feel compelled to tell my in-laws to pipe down as they lament the state of the world in her earshot. Before we left for our most recent holiday they urged us to keep ALL THE DOORS AND THE BOOT LOCKED because it was guaranteed that IMMIGRANTS would attempt to jump into our car as we left Calais. Sigh.

And yet my friendís position has made me wonder if I am being a little over-protective. Evie is starting to take an interest in the world - What is Brexit? Will I buy her a Fairtrade banana? Did I know that she is going to adopt a snow leopard? And yes, of course I want her to be well informed, curious and engaged but the problem is you canít really filter out the death and horror and unfortunately Newsround isnít on at breakfast!

I guess I could let her watch and see it as an opportunity to help her understand that bad things happen relatively infrequently. I could highlight all the good stuff that goes on. I could help her develop some understanding of world issues, a sense of injustice and passion which will propel her to get involved in things she believes in, outside of her own small world.

I could. But maybe first I will try baby steps. There are newspapers for kids after all. Or maybe I can at least stop turning the radio down when the news comes on in case she hears that someone has been hacked to death. Maybe. Or maybe I will wait a bit longer. Ultimately I value her childhood too much - itís short and precious. After all she will have plenty of time to live in the real world. Until John Craven triumphantly returns Newsround to breakfast, I think weíll stick to Ben and Holly.

Louise x



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