A recent article by Risa Green on MommyTracked* discusses her struggles with balancing her desires to control what kind of pop culture her daughter is exposed to and the need to not have her daughter feel left out among her peers at school. Because her family doesn’t eat fast food or watch a lot of TV, her daughter didn’t know what KFC was or the name of some movie star. This caused a bit of embarrassment for the little girl.
I think it’s perfectly normal that parents will try to raise their children in a manner that reflects their values so if you’re conservative or liberal or an athlete or a couch potato, your kids will likely be as well, until they’re old enough to make their own choices. Kids can be cruel to their friends for what seem like completely arbitrary reasons. I remember being teased because I was the only kid who didn’t have sneakers and had to wear rubber boots everywhere I went. Don’t remember why that was but when I cried to my mother about it, it was rectified that week with a trip to the Met (the department store). So being unaware of some fast food chain is enough to land you as an outcast among the school bus set, even if you may have a healthier diet.
There’s also a fine balance between parenting your children in a way that’s reflective of your values and parenting your children in a way that’s reflective of the values of what you think is a ‘good’ parent. If you like hamburgers, don’t pretend you’re a vegan with your kids.
But I get her point about the amount of pop culture kids are exposed to and I think it’s a little too much. We cut back on our cable a fair amount so that our only TV channels are the Canadian ones plus the Movie Network (Videotron is actually fairly flexible in its package pricing). The reasons for this were mostly financial: we have two computers, books, and a Wii. How much more stimulation does one actually need to be paying for? And for that reason, does my kid need to be sat in front of what are effectively 30 minute commercials, the kind they run on Nick or the Family Channel (Gotta say I miss Teletoon sometimes, though)?
There has to be a certain amount literacy about the world around your kids, even if they don’t actively engage with it at home. Just as there’s a line between being an individual and being the kids who have to leave the class during Sex Ed.
*Yes, I read a lot of mommy blogs these days. There aren’t too many daddy blogs though.