Don’t call us, we’ll call you

December 2, 2011

Opinions needed . . .

Not on Occupy Wall Street. (Though I have to say, I was sure I had more opinionated friends ready to dish on that topic . . . occupation fatigue?)

It’s something like a thought experiment, though most of you will know that it’s not purely hypothetical if you’ve been following along on here.  So here’s the question:

If you had to choose one or the other, which would you choose:

Letting your child watch 3-4 hours of TV/movies every day while you take care of them


Having someone else take care of your child all day, in a place where they don’t watch TV but do more interactive play with the caregiver and/or other children

(These are the only options today . . . because I said so.)



  1. I always feel like such a blog stalker when I comment so soon after you post, but the truth is, is that you pop up in my google reader as I obsessively check it at work 🙂 I choose option B!!! No matter what age, I’d choose B

    Comment by kei02003 — December 2, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

    • You can blog-stalk me anytime, Em 🙂 And since you’re such a scholar in the area of child-rearing, I’d love to hear how much TV/movie time you think is acceptable. Do you teach about this topic in your courses? What sources do you use?

      Comment by llcall — December 2, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

      • Haha, I should have elaborated–I would choose B because I’d need a break! The official party line when I taught at BYU was no tv under two and then only an hour a day. But my personal opinion is that any amount is fine as long as the parent is sitting down for most of it, watching it with the child and talking about what is going on. Easier said than done…..

        Comment by kei02003 — December 11, 2011 @ 4:23 am

  2. I think options B is good too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to the TV, it’s saved me a number of times. And now that N is older he’s obsessed with the computer. That comes in handy too, for many reasons. I used to be totally against daycare if you can avoid it, but I’ve seen that it can be really good for both parent and child. I think the trouble is finding a good place for your child. Good luck with this hypothetical situation

    Comment by enelo — December 3, 2011 @ 1:27 am

  3. I have thought about this quite a bit, and I just asked Ryan. I was a little surprised that we picked different answers. Although his first response was that one was like a 6 and the other like half a dozen, to which I agree (which I’m sure is why you want opinions in the first place). I realize there are many, many considerations with this choice: temperament of parents and child (including their relative needs—both parents and child—for stimulation and socialization), quailty of caregiver, relative availability of parent during “tv time”, needs of the family, etc. But I would pick A (the tv one) and Ry would pick B (the daycare one). Ry said he would pick B mostly out of concern for the development of the child. And I have to say, I think most every child developmentalist would say that B is the clearly better choice, and I admit it’s hard for me to go with the tv one for the obvious developmental concerns AND because I don’t like tv. I use it to my advantage when I need it, but the only good I see in it for children is as an intentionally manipulative tool for parents to use when they really need a break or have a sick kid or whatever. But, I would go for the first option for the following reasons, which I’d be happy to elaborate on more if you’re interested:

    1) When I read research on daycare and developmental outcomes as a grad student and considered my own belief in the importance of being a stay at home mom for the pre-school years, I decided that I didn’t need to disagree with the results of the good research that shows that good daycare can is good for kids (and I truly believe that, so if you hypothetically or in real life choose B, no judging). But I could disagree with the research question being asked (I learned this concept from an unrelated lecture by another professor). To me, beyond basic social and cognitive skills (which are important, of course), I’ve decided that for me being a stay at home mom is primarily about being there for enough time during my child’s day to get to know each other intimately and form a very close emotional relationship and to make myself the primary influence on my child for the formative years, partially so I can teach key values, beliefs, and habits (many of which are spiritual) that I feel are best taught by parents in the home. Maybe some moms or all moms don’t need an extra 40 hours a week to do this (society certainly doesn’t question the bond or influence fathers have with children when they almost always work full time outside of the home). But I do think there is something to be said for quantity time (not just quality time), particularly the younger kids are (as they get older, school age and teenage in particular, I think it’s easier to pull the quality over quantity time argument), and for being there at the crossroads, or put differently, at key routines or transition times in your child’s life that shape their day (meal time, nap time, bed time).

    2) I also partially chose A for “selfish” reasons. I have always wanted to be a stay at home mom, so I would rather have the few extra hours a day option A provides to get to fill that role more closely to how I’ve imagined myself doing it. Being a mom is hard, but ultimately, it’s what I want to be doing as much as I’m able to.

    That really is a tough question though . . .

    Comment by v. blanchard — December 3, 2011 @ 2:25 am

  4. For me, I think it depends on the day! I mean, when you say EVERY day, do you mean 5/week? 6? 7? I’d probably be comfy having my boys watch that much T.V. 2x/week. We’ve been limiting screen time to 2 hours/day around here, and have liked that. Plus also how much more/less productive am I knowing my child is right there? Is it a distraction to have her there, or would it be more of a distraction to have her gone? How long of a time period are we talking about? Couple weeks? sure, watch the TV. Couple months? mm, not so much for me.

    Good luck and godspeed! This is tough stuff!

    p.s. Occupy Wall Street — I feel so under-educated about it, I haven’t formed proper opinions yet. I’d love to hear your full thoughts.

    Comment by Alysa — December 3, 2011 @ 4:29 am

  5. If the choice is an every-day arrangment, I would vote for option B. Just MHO.

    Comment by Jen — December 4, 2011 @ 12:24 am

  6. I think your friend Vickie answered well and I agree with her on why A. I know in some situations it is better to put them in daycare. My mom was on crutches with 3 toddlers/babies and couldn’t take care of them right, so they went to daycare for a couple years til she could be off crutches and be able to pick them up and hold them again. And, it’s cheaper to have them at home. 😉

    Comment by Sabrina — December 7, 2011 @ 7:21 pm

  7. First off, WHY would a family be considering each of these options? Is there work that needs doing without being hampered by a child’s “assistance.” There may not be much choice if the work NEEDS to be done. B is probably pretty obvious. Because when my kids watch tv, they don’t tune out for 3-4 straight hours. I am interacting with them constantly. They have questions, they hit the remote button and change the channel, they need a snack or a diaper change, they just want to touch base with me and snuggle for a few minutes… The age of a child is also a consideration, as is the tv programming. My kids watch PBSkids almost exclusively, which is a far cry from the Warner Brothers cartoons I watched as a kid. It also matters if the 3-4 hours are all in a row or scattered in 30-60 minute episodes through the day.
    Development is an issue. Too much tv CAN affect brain development. But I also can’t get comfortable with the idea of another person caring for my child all day long. It is MY CHILD. Regardless of the quality of child care (and there is great stuff out there) I want to be the one answering my child’s questions, knowing when they fell off a chair or had a disagreement with another kid, seeing what strengths and weaknesses they are dealing with, teaching them skills, etc. I want my child to know that caring for them was my first priority. This is purely my experience and I do not judge others’ choices, but I cannot imagine not being intimately acquainted with my children’s lives. And a couple of hours in the morning and evening are just not enough for me. The preschool years are physically and emotionally demanding–we are y “in the trenches” then. But they are only a few years. Once the kid is in school things change, the available time you have together becomes even more precious, as you supplement/clarify/counteract the other influences that enter their lives.
    I agree with most of what v.blanchard says and have made similar choices for similar reasons– quality definitely trumps quantity, but most of the quality HAPPENS because you are there in quantity. And I would disagree with the idea that “society certainly doesn’t question the bond or influence fathers have with children when they almost always work full time outside of the home.” Most social science research dealing with “parenting” only asks for mother reports. Schools don’t want to talk to fathers. Media almost exclusively uses the stereotypes of bumbling, stupid, fathers whose children are always the moral authority.
    Can you imagine how the world would be different if, at the time of the sexual revolution, instead of emphasizing the need to get women OUT of the home, there had been a push to get men more IN to the home? I think many of the effects would have been similar, but we would have been measuring our value as people by truly meaningful terms, rather than an economic rubric,…
    Aaaaaaand I’m done now.

    Comment by Aislin — December 7, 2011 @ 7:42 pm

  8. We tend to go through periods of time, mostly when I’m pregnant when my kids watch more TV than I am really comfortable with. Then life gets back to normal and my kids show no lasting effects (so far) from it. I do remember reading an article ( i can ‘t remember where) that if children stop watching massive amounts of TV when they are school age then they show no adverse effects from earlier watching. My two that are in school are doing great. So I guess I would choose option A.

    Comment by fawnjenee — December 19, 2011 @ 7:05 pm

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