televisionAfter I reluctantly told my teen daughter she could watch one “crap TV show,” as I pointedly described it, she took the proverbial mile when I gave her an inch. Before I could tell her it was time for dinner, she had set the recorder to tape at least two other programs.

I admit that her uncensored TV watching continued for many months. I weakly complained to her, but I didn’t press the off button on the remote. My conscious began to gnaw at me. I carried this sin of allowing my daughter to view indecent TV heavily into the confessional, face to face with my parish priest. When I confessed that I allowed my daughter to watch “The Kardashians,” it wasn’t my imagination that he jerked in surprise. I swallowed my nervousness and explained that if she observed a family that held different values than ours, my teen would realize the pitfalls of living too focused on the material world. I rationalized that she would sense the spiritual void in some rich and famous and maintain her faith in the Church.

My pastor shook his head in disagreement. She would more likely want what they have and wish she had more of it, he told me. I confessed the other programs I allowed her to view. Although he didn’t nearly jump out of his chair, he said, “It’s time to cut the cord.” He told me about a doctor, who every Lent, clips the cords on all of his TVS at home. While I didn’t want to spend the money purchasing new TVs after Easter, I decided to limit the amount of television watching in our home.

It’s no surprise that my 15- and 11-year-old daughters weren’t happy with my Lenten plans, but my husband supported it. Now on the fourth week of Lent, they’ve found they don’t miss their programs as much as they thought.  Before Lent, I ordered my teen a few books. When I suggested she read, rather than watch TV, she replied she had enough reading required for school. Yet one month into the season, she finished a novel and asked for another one.

While my other daughter didn’t read more, she made enough homemade bracelets and Duck Tape projects to open her own business. She also is putting more time into practicing her clarinet. The sounds of musical notes – including the squeaky mistakes – are more welcoming to hear than any TV show.

As a family, we are spending more talking, praying and connecting in the evenings. While I allow them to watch mom-approved programs and movies on the weekends, the amount of time staring at the screen is far less than before this season. Maybe next year, I’ll take it a step further and experiment with “no TV during Lent.”

Copyright 2014 Kim Seidel