Maggie A's Meanderings




 Aug 16, 2015

Rules for TV Viewing

When I was growing up, one of the most constant source of fighting in families was over what to watch on TV. That didn't happen in my family.

As children, my two brothers and I came up with a set of rules that allowed us to peacefully and fairly divide the control of what to watch. Looking back, what I find remarkable was the three of us came up with the system on our own with no adult input.
(We also figured out the "You cut. I chose," method of dividing things ourselves.)

Three kids, on their own, figuring out how to divvy up the only television in the house sounds about as likely as the Arab world figuring out how to peacefully co-exist with Israel. But, somehow it happened in our case.

I doubt, no, I know that it never even crossed my parents' minds to wonder why there were never any fights about the TV. They would have had to pay attention to us to have noticed. Now, it's not that our parents didn't have rules. Our parents had plenty of rules. But the rules were for their convenience, to make their lives easier. If the interaction only involved us kids, my parents didn't give a maggot-ridden, dead rat's ass about it. We could have killed one another and as long as it didn't make a mess in the house, they wouldn't have bothered with it.

Here are our child-developed, fight free, utterly fair and impartial "Rules for TV Watching."
  1. When an adult is in the room, the adult gets to decide what to watch.
  2. When there is no adult present, the child with seniority gets to decide what to watch.
  3. Seniority isn't based on age ----- it's based on who's been in the TV room the longest.
  4. Once you leave the room, for any reason (bathroom, to get something to drink, because you were ordered to), you lose your seniority and it goes to the next child who's been in the room the longest.
  5. However, the channel cannot be changed (by a child) in the middle of a program. You must wait until the end of whatever's currently being watched. (This rule was the last one we figured out. We figured it out the first time one of us left the room in the middle of a show and another child immediately jumped up and changed the channel.)
For Saturday morning cartoon viewing (the only time cartoons came on) we worked out a different system. Back then, telephone books would include a calendar for the year. Each of us got a Saturday of our own, rotating in turn, starting with the eldest child. We wrote initials next to each Saturday for whose turn it was. That person would get sole choice of what cartoons to watch from the time the first cartoon started at 7 AM to when the last cartoon ended at 12:30 PM. Come Saturday morning, we would check the calendar, see who's Saturday it was and there was no fighting over what to watch.

Now I realize people may read those rules and wonder what relevance they have for today's world when the answer is to buy each child their own set of electronic entertainment devices so the children don't have to learn how to share.
However, in a lot of families, some items still have to be shared: a game system, a family PC. And learning how to share is an important life skill for children to learn. And the first thing they should learn about sharing is that the ideal is that the sharing be done in a way that it's fair to everyone.

So those old rules do have relevance as they can serve as an basis and example for developing rules for sharing in a modern day household.

Old fashioned TV with no fighting

For more on parenting, there's "When You Think God's Light Shines Out of Your Kid's Asshole.........You're Raising a Brat (And Why It's Not Doing Your Kid Any Favors),""Truly Odd Parents: Parents Who Take a Hard Job and Make It Harder," and "The Importance of Being Bored (in Childrearing)."

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