When it comes to parenting, I’m not one to live by, “well it was good enough for me, and I turned out OK.” As adults, people have a tendency to live with a certain level of acceptance regarding what was “good enough” for them when they were children, and that inclines them to believe that the beliefs and philosophies of our parent’s generation were sufficient for raising well-adjusted children. But in today’s day and age, that tendency is often overruled by a plethora of research and scientific discovery regarding the effect various influences have on developing minds. Parents today should examine these ideas as they come out, and not settle for old outdated ideas, they should not settle for, “it was good enough for me and I turned out OK.”
Still, a lot of these new ideas suffer from a lack of conclusive evidence, they just haven’t been around long enough to prove themselves, and even after some time, the ultimate result does not get the same level of attention as the original idea. The most widespread example of this is the belief that exposing the unborn child to Mozart will make them better at math. Despite the fact that this has been proven false, there are still many people who believe it. So when it comes to condemning the things from our childhood that society now thinks inappropriate, we should be careful to take such advice with a grain of salt.
I have never believed that violence, especially exaggerated non-realistic violence, in kids shows causes kids to be violent. Most of the cartoons of my youth are now labeled too violent for children. Not only did I not turn out to be a mass murderer, but these cartoons shaped my sense of humor, taught me comic timing, story telling, irony, and how to build a sense of dramatic anticipation.
It’s inconsistent that our society condones America’s Funniest Home Videos, where real people really get hurt, but condemns the explosions and hit-and-runs of the Roadrunner and Coyote.
I showed my four-year old son some of these classics. Now, I’m not completely unaware of the issues that come with cartoons from this era. I did not show ones with handguns or hand grenades; I can explain the purpose of rockets, fireworks, dynamite, even hunter’s rifles, but things designed specifically for taking human lives probably shouldn’t be in cartoons for someone his age. When he’s older it won’t matter, but as of now, he doesn’t know what those things are and that’s OK.
As an adult, there are certain things I know and accept about the Roadrunner and Coyote. As a result, I did not expect the reaction my son had. I knew he’d like the slapstick, but there was something else, quite unexpected:
“Dad, will he ever catch the roadrunner?”
“I don’t know, son.”
“Let’s watch another one, maybe he’ll catch him this time.”
And there it is. He doesn’t know what we all know, that the Coyote will never catch him. But a four-year old will anxiously watch the next episode wondering, “is this the one?” He doesn’t know that every harebrained scheme is going to go afoul resulting in self-injury. That’s always a surprise. And he actually believes the next one will work.
Anticipation. Sorely lacking in children’s programming today.
So, I don’t believe what was good enough for me, is good enough for my kids, but I also don’t think I should be so quick to condemn the things that made me who I am.