Helping her understand the influence of media

October 3, 2012 in kids and tv,lessons for daughters

Driving to soccer yesterday my oldest sighed audibly and said, “Oh I do wish I had my own room.” She shares a tiny room with her sister and the longing is not a new one. The language though? I don’t speak in formal, old-fashioned English. Lately, I’ve heard a few other odd phrases come out of her mouth too, like “Oh, Bother!” And to her sister, “Sister, won’t you be a dear and get me my cleats?”

Who taught her this stuff?  Then I remember. She just finished reading an old British classic by E. Nesbit called The Railway Children. It was written in 1906. Bird realized her manner of speaking was unusual and said, “Mom, have you noticed that I’ve been speaking like Bobby lately?” Bobby, aka Roberta, is the oldest of the three railway children. She is charming, kind, generous and thoughtful. A great role model.

My mind was focused and I actually seized the opportunity, ” Oh, I’ve noticed, Bird. Do you remember how we’ve talked about how we have to be careful what we read, listen to , and watch? It works both ways. The books, TV shows and music you watch can make you more polite than normal, more fearful than normal, kinder than normal, meaner than normal. It works the same way with groups of friends.”

Bird thought for a minute. I knew I scored when she said, “Wow. I guess you are right.” I refrained from pumping my arm in victory.

We’ve had this conversation before. When a friend of Bird’s temporarily started using a very distinct, annoying laugh, Bird picked up the horrible noise too. I refrained from commenting on the guffaw and instead used it as an example of how powerful friends’ influence can be.

My girls aren’t teenagers yet.  I am hoping that in teaching these lessons using opportunities that don’t breed defensive postures,  they will internalize the truths. I know timing is critical. Addressing the influence of media after she has made a big mistake because someone did it in a movie won’t gain any ground.

If I want my girls to internalize proverbial wisdom like, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Pro 13:20) I need to time the lessons with God’s openings.

I have no idea if my tactics will work, but I am praying. What do you think? If you have older kids, how have you helped them learn about the influence of peers and media?

Sharing today with Jennifer at

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer@GDWJ October 3, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Such a thoughtful piece here! I know that in my writing, this happens. I can sort of “pick up” on the voice of an author that I’ve been reading for a while. We are so influenced by the “voices” around us. Thank you for sharing in community with us. (And I think that’s so sweet how your girl talked in that style. How fun!)

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Jennifer@GDWJ October 3, 2012 at 10:39 pm

P.S. — The girls’ letters will be in the mail tomorrow! 🙂

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pruningprincesses October 5, 2012 at 11:02 am

Funny how excited I am for the letters to arrive. I love watching my girls experience the joy of connections. And pen pals? Why they fabulous friends because they never reject us or make us feel left out!

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kelli- AdventurezInChildRearing October 4, 2012 at 1:34 am

very thoughtful. one of my favorite things about homeschooling is the fact that it affords me the opportunity to spend time talking with my children on any topic. Whatever is going on in the lives of our children – parents have a much stronger influence than we realize.

my email is kellidparker @ yahoo (dot) com – if you have any questions about homeschool at all – I love chatting with new homeschool moms.

headed to read your 5 lessons to teach your girls about boys – (cause I’m raising the boys) 😉

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pruningprincesses October 7, 2012 at 10:01 am

Hi Kelli, Thanks for stopping by. Question for you, my girls spent 4 years in public schools. I love the education we are doing at home but am desperately missing the alone time. How do you get any?

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Blond Duck October 5, 2012 at 12:10 pm

It’s scary how influenced we are by others, even unintentionally.

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pruningprincesses October 7, 2012 at 9:54 am

Scary and good. I think it reflects the way we are made. We are programmed to be influenced. We just have to help kids pick and choose how they will be influenced. As always, thanks for stopping by.

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Nikki October 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm

YES! So glad you seized that moment. and it’s so true. Still trying to find my way through the fine line of exposing so we can talk about it and sheltering till their older. They grow up so fast! I don’t want to miss my moment!

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Kathy Penney @ Pinner Takes All October 5, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Great job seizing a teachable moment! My kids are a baby and a toddler at the moment but I do worry about the influence and media and peers especially on my daughter (though I know boys can be touched too) mostly on letting the media give her an unrealistic sense of what outside beauty should be. I hope to take advantage of little moments as you did so well here. Stopping by from SITS.

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pruningprincesses October 7, 2012 at 9:48 am

Hi Kathy, I have by no means mastered this parenting stuff but in writing this blog I have learned two things. Until they are teens, you can control much of the media they see and expose her to the questionable stuff only while watching with you, and much of the beauty dynamics depends on our own attitude toward our beauty. Sometimes I find the little moments and sometimes in frustration I practically yell the lesson I want her to learn. It isn’t helpful. Thanks for stopping by.

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thedoseofreality October 5, 2012 at 2:53 pm

You definitely nailed that one! 🙂 I think it is smart to start those conversations early!

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simplyhelpinghim October 5, 2012 at 7:21 pm

So true, how we speak to our children and guide them either will build up or tear down our relationships. Thanks you for sharing and linking up at SHH. Blessings!

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Lauren December 5, 2012 at 3:47 am

This was great to read. We really do not think about how media influences us sometimes. Especially with children, they can pick up some less than great habits. What a great opportunity to have a discussion like this. At least this was a positive influence.

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pruningprincesses December 5, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Media is so powerful. I am convinced it is the reason some girls think they NEED a boyfriend. And we did have a great discussion. I try to not to always have “negative” discussions. And thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I can see you went exploring which makes me so happy! And yes the “mall” idea was awesome.

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