The whole family gathers around the big screen eating pizza and wings, eager for the second half of the Big Game to start. Then Shakira and JLo are introduced, and within seconds moms and dads around the country are forced to react to the Super Bowl Halftime Show.
What do I do?
A. Jump up, turn the TV off, and begin ranting about “the trash on TV today!”
B. Leave it on, but send the kids out of the room.
C. Don’t say a word and hope that your kids don’t notice (even though your 12-year-old son now has a strange grin on his face).
D. Point to the screen and say, “Son, that right there is how babies are made.”
E. None of the above.
The Super Bowl Halftime Show Can Teach Us Something About Parenting
Parenting has always been difficult, but controversial Super Bowl halftime shows like this past weekend made it even more so when parents were instantly put on the spot to react… or overreact…in the moment. And these moments are always difficult to navigate.
Honestly, what were we supposed to do?
If we turn the TV off, our kids might think of us as antiquated and ignorant with archaic values. Sure, we shouldn’t let that bother us…but it does. What if our values aren’t archaic? What if they’re just refreshingly unwavering? How can we help a wishy-washy generation being spoonfed, “Do what feels right at the moment” to understand?
If we leave the TV on and send the kids out of the room then we’re hypocrites… maybe even a pervert.
If we just sit there and hope our kids don’t notice, then we’re the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand. And let’s be real. Our kids definitely noticed. (Which makes you wonder if JLo actually considered, “My daughter is going to see me doing this!”)
And it would be nice to try to turn moments like this into teaching moments…but what does that actually look like?
A Little Too Common
Sadly, this situation isn’t that rare. If you’ve got screens in your house (and most of us do), or your kids have screens in their pockets (and most of them do), then the struggle is real. The messages in today’s top music are frequently irresponsible. The apps they want are far from innocent. Many of us implement some reasonable rules and screen limits…but let’s be honest, we can’t block everything. Besides, we don’t want to be so focused on blocking the lies that we forget to talk about the truth!
So how should we respond in these moments?
Here’s four tips I teach in my brand-new Engaging Generation Screen parenting workshop:
1. Press Pause
No, not literally with your remote control (because you don’t want to freeze-frame on JLo’s booty). Pause your reaction. Do anything you can to delay your response.
This is tricky when considering the example of the Super Bowl Halftime show. If you delay reacting at all, then you’re automatically allowing your kids to see it. So in this situation, what if you stood up, turned off the TV and said, “Who wants some nachos?”
If your kids argue, “But Daaaaaaaaad, I wanted to see JLo pole dance!” then pause your reaction.
Do anything you can to buy yourself time.
Why? Most of us aren’t that good in the moment. I know I’m not. In fact, every time I did react…actually, overreact…I always looked back about an hour later and thought, “What I should have said was…”
So why not just give yourself that hour in the first place. And if your kids press you, then memorize a phrase like, “On the advice of my lawyer, I’m delaying my response so I don’t say anything stupid.” Or even, “I love you, and I respect you, so I’m going to pray before I respond because I don’t want to say anything insensitive.”
Pressing pause helps you to…