Everything in Moderation – Even Junk Food and TV

posted by Andrea | 11/8/2012

Everything in moderation.

I’ve both heard and said this phrase many, many times — I’m guessing you have too :)

It is true, you know.

Well, OK… maybe not EVERYTHING. But I think this phrase definitely applies to things like eating junk food and watching TV.

For example, we had friends growing up who were never allowed to watch TV at home — and I’m sure you can guess what they wanted to do every time they came over to our house. Even if we had a new game or if it was a beautiful day outside, all they wanted to do was watch TV.

We had other friends who were not allowed to eat “junk food”… ever! So of course, whenever they came to our house, all they could think about was eating sweets — and they went crazy. My sisters and I would have one or two cookies, they would just keep eating cookies. It’s all they could think about.

No, I’m not saying we should all sit around watching TV and eating junk food all day – I’m simply trying to make the point that everything in moderation can be OK.

Obviously, my parents were not perfect — Dave and I won’t be either — however, we’re not planning to make any extreme rules for our children like “no TV” or “no junk food”. We will most certainly have times when the TV is turned off and times when we say no to cookies and candy, but we won’t completely ban them all together.

Why?

Because we both enjoy watching a little TV and eating our favorite fast food… and we both feel that everything in moderation is probably OK. 

Are you sensing the theme of this post yet? :)

We know lots of parents who vow to never let their children watch TV or movies, never eat at McDonald’s, never eat anything with high fructose corn syrup, never eat anything other than organic produce, etc. etc.

Obviously, I don’t know everything about parenting, but whenever the word “never” is used, I pretty much disregard anything that comes after it. So while I smile and nod, realizing that these parents are just trying to protect their children, I also know that it will be nearly impossible for them to follow through on any of their statements.

Will their kids actually be harmed by eating a handful of McDonald’s french fries or watching one TV program?

Nope.

Will their kids grow into horrible people if they take one bite of “non-organic” produce or eat a few chocolate chip cookies?

Not a chance. 

We’ve already let Nora chew on a few French fries and she’s swallowed more than a few bites of ice-cream — and her doctor continues to rave about how healthy she is at every single check up.

And I’ll be honest, we watch a fair amount of TV.

Since she rarely ever takes naps, TV is one of the only ways she will sit quietly for even a few minutes. She absolutely loves almost any show on PBS and she dances non-stop to the Baby Einstein DVDs.

I used to feel bad about letting her watch TV — I felt like I should be able to keep her entertained on my own. But after days and days of no naps, there isn’t much you can do with infants to keep them occupied all day long. We go outside as much as we can, but when it’s raining or freezing cold, my options are definitely limited.

So I’ve cut myself some slack and realize that watching a couple Baby Einstein DVD’s each day is not going to kill her — and if that’s what it takes to save my sanity, that’s what we’re going to do!

I suppose some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my first year of parenting are…

  • there’s a pretty good chance nothing will happen like I thought it would
  • I have to be OK with this and willing to change/alter my plans {still SO hard for me}
  • stop stressing, everything in moderation is just fine

Nora will not grow up to be a horrible person because we let her watch TV and she will not be unhealthy because we let her eat junk food.

Period!

What are your thoughts on this topic?

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22 comments

  1. Endora

    11/08/2012

    I agree with everything you wrote. They need to experiment and find out about world around them.

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  2. Katy

    11/08/2012

    Very well said! With two kids under 2, I don’t think I would be able to get anything done if they didn’t watch Disney Jr. once and a while. The biggest lesson you learn as a parent is that no matter what your friends say, you have to do what you feel is best for your kids. Keep up the good work, Nora is adorable!

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  3. Laura

    11/08/2012

    I love this post, and am in total agreement! My son just had his first taste of Steak n Shake recently :-)

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  4. Carlen

    11/08/2012

    I completely agree. My daughter and I were at a birthday party once where Kool Aid was served, one of the other mothers made such a stink about how she doesn’t let her child drink Kool Aid and forced him to drink water. The kid had a fit and it made the mom look very pompous and judgemental toward the hosting parents. We don’t drink sugary drinks at home, but a small amount of Kool Aid wasn’t going to kill anyone.

    You have to do what’s best for your family and I think people sometimes discount the “mom has to stay sane” factor. There are tons of things I said I would never do, but ended up doing because I needed to stay sane and calm.

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    Katherine@YeOldCollegeTry Reply:

    The thought of that makes me cringe! I hate the idea that anyone hosting our family would feel like we were turning up our noses at something they provided for us. Ugh. Another point for practicing moderation!

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  5. Monica Good

    11/08/2012

    Andrea,

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. We do what is right for our own families. You and your husband are in charge of your family. Having had three boys under two, I depended on “Baby Songs” video’s for them so that I could get cleaning, laundry, bottles, nursing, dinner, and so forth accomplished. I also in recent years discovered now that my boys are grown up adults, how I made wrong choices in some of my giant NO’S that I thought would cripple them as adults, primarily God fearing adults. I was anti lots of stuff that I was convinced would harm them spiritually. I was wrong. I’ve apologized to them as well. When they were teenagers, I met some of their friends, whose parents were even more zealous than I. No Lucky Charms…they are magically delicious. Can’t have christian children eating magic marshmallows now, can we? Smurfs…equated with demons/fairies, etc. I see how I was, I went with the “home-schooling” community on things I should have not….pokemon, yeah, I got the cult thing that could have led them into the Gathering games, demonology, yada-yada….but the bottom line for my children was: they wanted the cards with the cartoon characters on them…because they were cool. I should have let them have those cards. There was no spiritual/evil/devious implications for them.
    We do what is right for our families, I applaud you for doing what is right for Nora.

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  6. Terry

    11/08/2012

    Hooray for you–keep up that healthy mentality. I stayed at home with my now 17, 15, and 11 year old kids for many years and learned the same lessons you have described. I hope all young mothers remember that they deserve their own identity, too, and good parenting comes in all styles. The phases from infancy through preteen build you up for the tumultuous teen years. Best of luck to all of us!

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  7. Melanie

    11/08/2012

    I SO AGREE! Everything we do we need to remember moderation! In eating, media,finances…etc. MODERATION!

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  8. Julie

    11/08/2012

    Very well said! Never say never! Lol

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  9. Alana @ The Bliss Diaries

    11/08/2012

    I grew up being highly involved in children’s programs and youth groups at church. I noticed something about the kids whose parents were overly strict… After graduation, they went crazy! Like, threw out all their values and chased the partying lifestyle with everything they had. Now, I think their parents did the best they could. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve done things I shouldn’t have, but I believe the reason I didn’t lose all common sense was because my parents set reasonable boundaries. Like you shared, if I never let my son watch TV or eat junk, that’s all he’d ever want. It’s more important that I teach him (by example) how to have a healthy relationship with media/technology and food.

    Great post!

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    Stephanie Reply:

    Totally agree!!! I know of a family with 5 kids – mom was soooo strict. Every. single. one. of the kids rebelled after they left home. Parenting is such a hard job, I just hope I don’t turn out like that mom!

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    Five4Five Meals Reply:

    I don’t know, my parents were pretty strict and I didn’t go crazy when I went off to college. In fact, my husband and I didn’t buy a tv until two years ago.

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    Lea Stormhammer Reply:

    I think it may blanket “no” without an explanation that leads to the rebellion.

    Sort of an “Oh – watched TV and the lightening didn’t strike so maybe other things aren’t bad either.”

    My parents were known for being the strictest parents in my group of friends (who all had rather strict parents). In my entire growing up time I only remember one time they didn’t give me a reason why (and that was because my Dad didn’t want to tell me his reason because it wasn’t a ‘real’ reason at all – he sheepishly told me the reason a few years later!). Having those reasons made me feel that my parents were watching out for me rather than just telling me what to do and what not to do.

    I had a friend in that group who did really, really, really rebel in college and after – with terrible consequences – and she was the one with the parents that were inconsistently strict with no reasoning.

    Just a thought….
    Lea

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  10. Heidi

    11/08/2012

    BRAVO!

    I think forbidding things is bad when they are harmless in the big picture. So many parents add extra stress trying to parent from a Master Script that is hard to achieve and even harder to maintain — and it stresses out kids too. I think it is fine to raise your child with moderation of things that everyone freaks out about now days. I think my kids are better for it because they don’t fixate on anything, they only pay attention to what I draw attention too. On Halloween our 2.5 year old ate some candy, she stopped on her own after a couple pieces and didn’t ask for more the next day. Moderation rules!

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  11. Kathy C

    11/08/2012

    All I can think of to add is how cute Nora is and how good those Culver fries look! Love your posts.

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  12. Colleen

    11/08/2012

    We’re a moderation type of family too—my kids are allowed to have soda on pizza night, but they actually prefer milk! I’m pretty certain that if they were “forbidden” to ever have soda pass their lips, you know darn well that’s what they’d be wanting. We give them choices and they choose milk!
    I do have a couple of “nevers” though, LOL. I never gave my babies formula–crazy to pay for something that is free. I also NEVER allow chewing gum–I hate to listen to it being chewed and it always seems to end up in bad places (hair, carpet, furniture!).

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  13. Mamaria

    11/08/2012

    Saying “never” is easier than monitoring children’s exposure or consumption of things that are harmful in excess.

    I like the idea of using those monitored experiences, whether food or entertainment or whatever, as learning times. So how did you feel after you ate seventeen pieces of chocolate? Kinda yucky? Do you think your tummy might feel better if you only ate two or three next time?

    Did the characters in that movie make wise choices? Did they respect authority? Did they act and speak truthfully? Did they treat others with kindness? Do you think watching that movie encourages you to act more like Jesus, or does it encourage you to be selfish?

    Sometimes careful exposure to some negative things like too much junk food or entertainment that doesn’t uphold your family’s values can result in really good lessons for children. But it takes time and intention to use them as teaching tools.

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  14. Deb

    11/08/2012

    You are so ahead on the learning curve……maybe your firstborn won’t have to see a psychiatrist………bahahahahaha…………GREAT JOB! Such balance and wisdom from a first time mom………..wish I have had more of that and less rigidness. Thankfully, God is gracious and all three of mine have turned out to be wonderful, Godly teens…..

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  15. TieDye64

    11/08/2012

    GOOD FOR YOU! How great that you’ve already figured out not to sweat the small stuff. That can be a tough one for first time moms.

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  16. Autumn

    11/08/2012

    Oh my goodness…what a great post. This topic has potential to turn into a heated (and ugly) debate. Being a blogger, I feel like your life is always under a microscope. I love that you had the courage to be so transparent. And I’m super encouraged to not see any negative comments from your readers. I couldn’t agree with you – or your readers – more!

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  17. Bonnie

    11/09/2012

    We rarely allow our children, ages 14 and 12, to watch television. There really isn’t much on worth watching for them. They both have disabilities and we need to monitor what they watch closely. Often times the commericials are worse than the tv show. Instead they watch Christian DVD’s. We also bought the complete series of Little House on the Prairie and we enjoy watching it as a family in the evenings. Our children don’t often ask to buy a lot of toys and things and I think it’s because they aren’t watching all those commercials on tv. This is what works for our family.

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  18. Rhonda H.

    11/09/2012

    As a 50+ mother of 4, ages 31-11, may I congratulate you on learning this with your first child. In so many areas of our lives we must “not sweat the small stuff”, “learn to pick our battles”, etc. It’s so much easier when we learn this early on. By the way, I love your site.:)

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