I worked in the medical field before I became an official SAHM. While I was pregnant, I came in daily contact with a variety of medical professionals, mostly doctors.
And one resounding thing that kept coming up in those interactions was the constant reproach as they regarded my growing belly: "Don't you let that baby watch any t.v." Since I had, indeed, been planning on allowing the baby to watch t.v. (Ba.by Ein.stein and such), I was a little confused.
It turns out that there has been a lot of research showing that television watching in the young infant set causes learning delays and socialization issues later on. Apparently, the tender synapses in the young baby brain are developing at such a rapid pace that all of the stimulation from the flashing boob tube can cause a disruption of the neural pathways. These "disconnected" pathways can cause problems that some researchers believe leads to learning disabilities, aggression, and even Alzheimers.
That being said, I really don't think television is evil. I watched t.v. as a kid, and I turned out literate and (pat self on shoulder) a productive member of society. However, as doctor after doctor (and our own pediatrician) recommended "NO television," I did some research and discovered that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television viewing prior to age 2.
To that end, my husband and I came to the conclusion that we would not introduce Will to t.v. prior to his second birthday. We aren't t.v.-Nazis or anything. If he sees a glimpse of television in a restaurant or at a friend's home, we don't shield his eyes in terror, lest the synapses start shooting fireworks off in his brain. We just leave the t.v. off when he is in the room with us and don't own any "kidvids."
I am not a huge t.v.-watcher myself during the day, so this has been no great sacrifice. Sure, there have been days when it would have been nice to pop a video in and get some much needed minutes to wash dishes, run a load of laundry, or even take a shower. But after my research, I just feel as if this is the right decision for Will. I have no judgment over people that allow their infants to watch t.v. I think there are probably benefits to that path, too. My good friend has her two boys watching t.v. constantly, and they are smart little boys who know their ABCs and 123s. My best friend's son watches a video or two every day and seems perfectly well-adjusted and very intelligent. I have seen the amazing results from that infomercial "Your Baby Can Read," and I sometimes wonder if we aren't making a mistake. But, ultimately, our choice has been to follow the recommendations and have no t.v. for Will.
The reaction from friends and family is mixed. My mother, who feels as if she let my 15-year-old brother watch too much t.v., is definitely on our side of this matter. Other reactions have been the occasional eye-roll or even the "We'll see how long that lasts. . . " When I go to a friend's house with young children, invariably, the t.v. is on with a kid-friendly video. I don't say anything, I just situate Will with a toy or in an activity where he can't see the screen. I don't judge those parents for popping in a DVD, but I sure get a lot of judgment back for choosing to refrain.
I guess it's just my early training that not everyone will agree with your parenting decisions. Some things are more controversial that others. I just feel as if I am defending myself a lot. Now that Will is six months old, I get a lot of strange looks in public when I breastfeed. I have had several strangers ask me how long I intend to keeping feeding "that baby." When we tell people that I am staying home with Will, we also get a lot of judgment. I thought it was bad when I was pregnant, but it's just gotten worse. And this parenting thing is difficult enough without everyone else putting in an opinion - usually the one that is opposite of what you have chosen to do.
How do you handle it when people judge you for your parenting decisions? What do you say? I know this is only the beginning. . .