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Confessions of a realistic mother

By Staff | Apr 2, 2010

It’s time for a mom confession – because let’s face it, I’m a realistic mother and sometimes it doesn’t work the way the parenting books say it should.

So here goes.

As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I think our three-year-old daughter watches too much television.

What makes me think that? Well, my first clue was the other day when she said, “Mommy, don’t get mad, get glad.”

Some might remember that as the popular slogan used in advertisements by the Glad storage bag company.

My second clue: she can count to 10 in Spanish. She gets that from Dora the Explorer’s television show – one of her favorites.

It’s hard to admit that you aren’t the perfect parent. Oh, sure I know that television in excess isn’t good for my kids. But sometimes I tell myself that it’s okay that she watches because it’s educational. When the long winter sets in and you’ve put together the “learn-your-shapes” puzzle about 700 times, you can’t help but turn to the television for entertainment and child-rearing assistance.

After all, the advertisements say Nick, Jr. is preschool on television. What parent doesn’t hope those miraculous television shows somehow make our kids smarter while we make dinner. Of course it’s too good to be true.

Don’t get me wrong. We don’t park our kids in front of the television all the time. But sometimes you just have to turn to the “electronic babysitter” to help keep your sanity in tact.

But I guess almost every parent comes to the realization that they may just be hiding behind that as an excuse to make them feel better about turning on the television to occupy their children while they get things done around the house, or simply just need a moment to relax. After all, she’s learning to be bi-lingual. That should come in handy someday. Right?

One of the first lessons you learn as a parent is that no matter how many times you tell yourself that those mind-numbing puppets, songs and bright colors are educational, we all know it just might not be the whole truth.

Call it the perfect storm of parenting. Who doesn’t want to believe that there is a magical, wondrous, no-parental-guidance-required electronic device that will turn our kids into Mensa members? The combination of our lack of time, our paranoia over our children’s intelligence, and our own addiction to electronics has primed this generation of parents to accept the clever claims by television networks as truth. It’s the same theory that drove parents before us to swear by corporal punishment, or the teachings of Dr. Spock.

So now what? Lose the Leapfrog? Whisk away the Wii? Deport Dora the Explorer? Is the fact that my three year old can quote a Glad commercial slogan a cause for panic? Maybe not.

We all have secrets. I guess letting her watch too much television isn’t the end of the world. Sometimes parents have to be honest and accept that we can’t always do everything by the book. Child psychologists reading this will scream in horror, but sometimes you realize that you’ll never be June Cleaver.

While I’m at it here are a few more confessions from a real-life mom: I bribe my children; I don’t “get” Cat in the Hat books; I let my toddler eat pizza for breakfast. Whew! It felt good to get that out in the open. As long as we manage to raise well-adjusted children who go out into the world to do good, then all that other stuff won’t matter. So what if she can quote television commercials.

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we’re not perfect. We’re parents.

Mullally is a Tribune writer

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