Parenting

Watching primetime TV with kids

Tracy has finally discovered a show that everyone in her family can enjoy.

Contestants perform on The Voice. Photo by Joint Base Lewis McChord via Flickr.

My seven-year-old, Anna, generally owns the remote control during the daylight hours in our house (except on weekends, when she has to wrestle it away from her sports-addicted dad). We have a no-TV rule before school, but I hear a lot of Arthur, her current obsession, playing on (and on and on) as I’m getting dinner organized. Avery, at four-and-a-half, also claims Arthur is her favourite show, but really just relinquishes TV control to her big sister, since she’s more likely to gravitate into the kitchen to hang out with me.
 
I have no issues with Arthur, except for the fact that they’ve seen (and I’ve heard) every episode dozens of times. It’s pretty innocent, about a group of kids (though they’re all animals of some sort) navigating day-to-day life at school, home and with each other. (Though the little sister is seriously annoying.) However, it’s obviously not something that provides me with much joy as I curl up on the couch at the end of the day.
 
But what show could I put on that we’d all enjoy and would be appropriate for the kids? I’m pretty careful about what they watch — mostly just TVO so we don’t have to deal with commercials and “mature” themes. I didn’t think that anything Sean and I watched in the evenings worked for them… until the recent return of The Voice.
 
So much of primetime is about murder and mayhem — and the rest is reality TV and there’s just too much negativity in it to feel comfortable sitting with my kids and reminding them that those people shouldn’t behave or talk that way. They would probably enjoy something like Dancing with the Stars, but I’ve never gotten into it. As Sean and I were watching the return of The Voice last week, it occurred to me that they would love the music. For those who don’t know, the show has four musician “coaches” who choose contestants to build competing teams. The twist is that the coaches can only hear the singers, and can’t judge them on their appearance. If a coach wants to choose a singer for his or her team, he pushes a button to turn his chair around. If more than one coach pushes the button, the contestant gets to choose which team she will join. In the next phase, the singers on different teams have to have a sing-off, and someone is voted off.
 
I like The Voice because it’s got a fun, positive spirit. First of all, the contestants are handpicked, so they’re almost always awesome singers. And the coaches will fight over the contestants, which must feel pretty incredible for these up-and-comers. No one trashes them or laughs at them, and if someone isn’t chosen, a lot of constructive criticism and encouragement is given. I remember hearing that coach Adam Levine said, while in talks with the show at the very beginning, that he would not be part of any show that discouraged or ridiculed its contestants (which makes me love him more!). There’s a wonderful camaraderie among the coaches, and lots of laughs and only the occasional swear word. The show does feature very sad stories about things the contestants have overcome — disease, floods, drugs, etc. — but we tend to just skip through those, as the kids aren’t interested.
 
The girls LOVE it — they do love the singing, but also the guessing of which coach the people will choose. They find it all very exciting. Best of all, Sean and I genuinely enjoy it, too, so now we just PVR it and watch it as a family.
 
Do you watch any primetime TV shows with your kids?

Photo by Joint Base Lewis McChord via Flickr.