Do Zombies Have Free Will?

I believe in giving my kids freedom.  Room to explore.  Space for uninhibited, imaginative play.


That being said, it is my job to keep my children safe.  I believe in giving them freedom, but not the freedom, say, to fence with real swords or to walk on the railing of our balcony, three floors up above the ground.  Not the freedom to play with real guns and not the freedom to taste rat poison or eat laundry detergent. And not the freedom to let their brains rot.


So yeah, I think they need limits on T.V. time, too. And in the argument between Demand Euphoria and Teacher Tom, on whether to limit screen time, I’m with Tom.  Freedom, absolutely. But freedom that accounts for the future implications of today’s decisions.


Parents are like trustees.  We are given temporary custody of our children, with the awe-inspiring duty to care for them and help them with decision making, until they are capable of doing so on their own.  We should not try and “control” our children and we should treat them with respect.   But what does respect for children mean?


Does it mean letting them do whatever they want and make all their own decisions?  Or is there something else involved?


Ultimately, I think respecting children means listening. But the kind of respectful listening required of a trustee is a very special kind.  It is a listening that strikes a delicate balance between two very different voices:


  • My child’s voice:  What do they want?  How are they feeling? What concerns them?


  • The voice of the adult my child will be one day:  What kind of guidance will they want their parents to have given them, to help them reach their full potential as human beings?

So in deciding how much television to let my kids watch, I can’t ignore the effect excessive screen time has on them or the studies that show the potentially harmful effects too much T.V. can have on their intellectual, psychological, and emotional development.


When my kids watch too much T.V., they become listless little zombies. Their eyes glaze over, their little bodies slump, and after a while, drool starts collecting at the foot of the couch.  T.V. time is time away from more constructive, active and educational activities – activities that encourage them to engage freely in what they’re interested in and discover how to pursue it.


So yes, I have to listen, but not only to what they say now about how much screen time they crave.  I also have to listen to what they will be likely to have wanted when they grow up.


And let’s face it.  When we let our kids watch too much T.V., is it really an expression of their freedom, or of our desire for more facebook time?   Zombies, after all, don’t really have free will – do they?


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