Well, okay, maybe I do indulge in just one…I’m a closet fan of America’s Next Top Model. But I never admit to it, so let’s just keep it between us.
Anyway, most of the time, I watch it on the sly, and usually when the kids are not around. But tonight when they were all otherwise occupied, I flipped it on for a quick second-really!– just to see who the final two contestants were. BAM! In a flash, all four of my kids had flocked around the t.v. watching with great interest, and suddenly I was faced with something of a dilemma.
I must say my relationship with Top Model is conflicted at best. On the one hand, it’s really kind of fascinating to peek behind the scenes of an industry that, let’s face it, I would otherwise never remotely experience. On the other, I’m leery of the messages that the fashion industry sends, particularly to young girls. Most of the time, I can live with the tension. But tonight, with my kids watching and eagerly asking all kinds of questions, I had a decision to make. Quickly flip the channel, or keep watching?
As an unschooling parent, I’m learning that the first thing I need to do in these situations is to breathe and check in with myself. Why was I unsure whether my kids should view this show? What was my worry? As is so often the case, a big piece of the unschooling process takes place internally. So I took a minute to figure it out.
Mainly I wanted them to retain a strong enough sense of self that they wouldn’t fall prey to comparing themselves with others, or mistakenly believe that external beauty is more important than quality of character. Once I’d realized that, it became clear that we could watch the show together. I could share my thoughts with them – without being preachy- while they shared my enjoyment.
When the show ended, they disappeared into the playroom. A while later, they emerged with the bin of Mr. Potato Head toys and some home-made scoring sheets. They went on to play an elaborate game of America’s Next Top Mr. Potato Head, awarding points for most original, funniest and craziest, to name a few. The game had us all in stitches.
When we unschooling parents are willing to undertake that kind of internal dialogue, and let our own inner wisdom offer guidance, it’s amazing what can grow out of the experience. Maybe even a brand new reality show. Stay tuned!