Thursday, April 29, 2010


No I'm not having twins!  But I am going to write briefly about two different subjects relating to child rearing and this is the new title for it...Yes I know I'm creative lol!

Baby vs. Body

I was given a link to this article about The Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels response to having children.  She said that she couldn't "handle doing that to [her] body."  When I first read the article I immediately thought that she was selfish and vain for saying something like that.  But then I got to thinking about what I used to think about before I had MIB.  I never wanted kids before I got pregnant with her.  I had made it up in my mind that children were not for me and my lifestyle and I was perfectly happy with that.  I wanted to be able to get up and leave when I was ready, go out without having to find a babysitter, and just keep my freedom in general.  Did those thoughts make me a selfish and vain person like Michaels?  Not really; it just made me realistic.

I wasn't ready for kids five years ago.  To be honest, I'm still not ready for kids but I do the best I can with the help, knowledge, friends, and family that I have.  If I were to have a child during my severely selfish stage, my child would have suffered more than she would have benefited from me being her parent.   And the same goes for Michaels.  If she got pregnant and her body was destroyed (let's not forget that her body is her paycheck) it's possible that she would resent and treat that child badly simply because he was born.  Plus, it's not like she was totally against having children; she did say that she would be very interested in adopting a child.  And let's face it, there are so many children in the U.S. (YES in the U.S. not just Malawi!) that are in foster care looking for and wanting a family that adoption for her and many women like me and her would be the best option for her. 

My BFF has a saying: "these women don't want these kids."  I'd rather see Michaels with a child that's already here that she'll love than give birth to one she could possibly resent and abuse. 

Don't do it

The other article I received talked about putting televisions in childrens' rooms and posed the question: is it OK to do?  The writer, Lynn Mundy Coggin, said that she allowed her children to have televisions in her room but eventually said the generic homework is more important, good examples need to be set, and parents should be present and available during certain programs that their children are watching.  Yes, that's all true but my instant thought was about how are African American children affected by television and generic just ain't gonna cut it.

If you are Black in America, you are already aware of the stereotypes that plague our community and how television shows are the main instigators of those stereotypes.  One article I read about how it affects African American children was from the University of Michigan and gave more in depth answers about how and why television in a child's bedroom (and anywhere in the house for that matter) can be more devastating to them.  African American males are portrayed (as if this is something new, but informative nonetheless) as more aggressive in comparison to their white counterparts who are usually portrayed as strong [1].  More of our children are the focus of crime stories [2], more of our boys are the initiators of crimes, and all of our kids are more likely to be targeted by alcohol companies on television.

With our kids watching nothing less than 50% of the time with a television in the house [3] and 1.5 more hours than those without televisions in their rooms, it's only the logical choice that we don't allow our children to have one their room and to overly  monitor the programs they watch.  Televisions, especially for single parents, have become a replacement for parents and other human contact because of the ease to pacify the children when the parent is doing something else or they just want them out of their hair.

I will be the first to admit that I've done that: turned on one of MIB's favorite cartoons in order to keep her occupied while I was cooking dinner (and attempting to keep her from burning or harming herself).  I do, however, read to her nightly (sometimes two or three books), take her outside for walks, allow her to help me with the laundry, or take her along for a ride while listening to the radio and singing.  Not to say that there aren't some shows that are beneficial to the development of children and lack the racial stereotypes that some shows portray constantly (Sesame Street immediately comes to mind); but we have to be careful of the effects constant television watching has on our children, their development, and their perception of others, especially themselves.

And consider MIB to be the next child to not have a television in her room.

For more information about the effects of television on children visit the following sites:
Carolyn A. Stroman - The Journal of Negro Education
Media Awareness Network

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