My husband and I do not have a television in our home. When my husband’s parents come to visit, they seem uncomfortable that we do not have one. They consider us very unusual because we do not have at least one television in the house. Last week, for our wedding anniversary, they gave us an expensive 60-inch television. We do not want to have this in our home. How should we handle this without hurting their feelings?
As your parents’ favorite old-time TV show may have told them, tell them – “Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.” Try telling them the following:
“We decided to give up TV to avoid exposing our family to the excessive violence and advertising that’s constantly promoted onscreen. We also felt it intrudes too much into our lives, interferes with the conversation, and takes away quality time from the family. Research also shows that increased exposure to television and violence results in greater aggression in children.” (That’s a pretty consistent finding.)
If they respond with something along the lines of, “So just watch sports or the news.” You can answer them with the following facts:
“The news is not something we want our children exposed to and we have found that the world continues on by itself even without us knowing all the gory details. It’s also been shown that when parents did cut television out of their homes, they reported that their kids didn’t bug them as much for the junk food and toys advertised on TV. Parents also said giving up television made their children easier to manage. It’s sort of counter-intuitive because people think their kids would drive them nuts without TV, but parents found that kids became very good at entertaining themselves and didn’t need to be entertained all the time by something that was lively, silly, and active. They also didn’t complain about being bored.”
Those are the facts. Not just from Jewish homes, but from all those brave enough to dump their televisions.
Then conclude with the following: “So, thank you so much for the present, but it’s something we can never use. But if it makes you feel better, we don’t mind if you get us a little portable one that we can plug in any time the two of you want to come over to watch.”