When my daughter Hannah was first born I could take her anywhere. Well, maybe not because of all the crying, but I could in the sense that she didn’t pick up on much. If I wanted to watch movies or listen to the radio in her presence I could. She didn’t even look at the screen – in fact, she couldn’t see more than 2 feet from her face. She certainly wasn’t absorbing the meaning of the words or the images I consumed.
Gradually, things changed. When Hannah was a few months old she started looking towards the TV screen. From there her interest, attention span and understanding only increased. By the time she was 18 months or so I couldn’t watch anything when she was awake. By the time that Hannah was 2 she was seriously parroting my words and I experienced the singular joy of hearing her yell some swear words in front of older ladies at the grocery store. And by the time that Hannah was 3 she asked uncomfortable questions about news stories she heard on the radio. “Mom, why did he say ‘kill’? Who killed? Why did he kill? Will he kill me?”
She’s really cute when she’s not repeating swear words
These days, with a 4 1/2-year-old, even my reading material is subject to scrutiny. I recently read Persepolis, which is a fabulous graphic novel about a girl growing up in Iran. With, you know, lots of pictures because it’s a graphic novel. Some of these pictures depict violence or torture. Hannah, of course, is interested in the book because of its pictures, but I just don’t think she’s capable of really understanding these issues. And don’t even get me started on the newspaper. Books are also under lock and key, now, too.
I don’t believe in censorship, in theory. I like the idea of being open and honest with my kids. I know that they need to understand the world they live in. But every day I censor the things that my kid sees, and I don’t feel that bad about it. This is my job as a mom – to make these judgment calls as best I can, and to decide what information is appropriate for my child. So I continue to censor, in spite of the occasional twinge of doubt.
How about you? How do you decide what is and isn’t OK for your kids to see?