Some parenting decisions are easy.
When the lawn service company sprays the neighbor's yard and it's a windy day, you have the kids play inside. When you open a box of blueberries that says wash before eating, you give them a spray under the sink before putting them on the table. When you get in the car, you make sure everybody is buckled up so the kids don't become projectiles if you slam on the brakes.
Parents constantly make decisions that ensure the well being of their children.
So why is it so blasted hard to make a decision about television? MTV specifically. In recent years, much of MTV programming has zeroed in on the underbelly of the snake, redefining low. It's not just teens who watch, increasingly, the elementary school set is watching, too.
Actually, the MTV decision can be an easy one, as well. You tell the kids you have standards as a family and those standards preclude vulgar language, sexual exploitation, human degradation, extolling bimbos and lauding gigolos.
Before you feel like the bad guy, here's a sample of what your kids will be missing on a given evening: " Jersey Shore," "Teen Mom," "I Used To Be Fat," "I Was 17," more "Jersey Shore," more "Teen Mom" and "SKINS," the show featuring minors abusing drugs and in sexual situations so explicit that the network may be facing child pornography charges.
You wouldn't lob garbage onto your kids' dinner plates, why shovel it into their minds? Take the Nike approach and Just Do It. Turn the thing off.
Will it work? It did for us. We said you watch MTV, and we will cut the cable. Not just discontinue the service, but cut the cable, which we all knew could take the cable company months, possibly years, to repair.
As a postscript, I just emailed each of the kids, told them the statue of limitations regarding the ban on MTV at the house had expired and asked them to come clean if they had watched it while living at home.
The oldest said a few times, maybe five. "Not sure how much I was afraid you were going to cut the cord or I just didn't care about MTV when I could watch Outdoor Life Network," he wrote. "I watched MTV a few times at college, but only because they had U2 music video marathons."
The middle one said never. The youngest said, "I watched 'The Hills' probably about 10 times my junior or senior year of college. It's a group of about 10 spoiled kids thinking they're adults. It was pretty big in college. But that's it. I'm not really an MTV person."
They survived and may even have salvaged a few IQ points along the way.
If you impose a ban on MTV and your kids protest that they need to know how "Teen Mom" ends, tell them you already know. She has a 5 percent chance of graduating from high school and a strong probability that she and her baby will be living in poverty.
Watching young people self-destruct in the name of entertainment is like rubbernecking at a car accident. It's not polite to gawk.
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