After years of watching Disney cartoons, My Little Pony, and countless other kiddie TV shows and movies, I am thrilled to report that my kids’ taste in TV shows and movies has finally progressed to a point where we genuinely enjoy watching TV together.
As a matter of fact, I am looking forward to some serious binge watching with my girls over the long holiday break. I work full-time, but I always take the two weeks off around Christmas and New Years to do nothing but hang out with family. It is glorious and it is sacred time.
So, why would I spend this sacred time in front of the TV? Well, TV time is a rarity in our household. It is a paradox: the older my kids get the more we like the same types of shows, but the less time we have to watch. TV used to be a way for me to grab a few moments of peace while they were entertained, but now it is a way for us to slow down and connect. Yes, I did use the words TV and connect in the same sentence. When done right, TV can be a great tool to foster family bonds.
Most of our family TV time is spent watching what I consider to be some classic TV shows and movies. Watching these shows together gives me a chance to share stories of my pre-kid life, it gives us some shared jokes and cultural references, and it creates pathways to dialogue about serious issues in a more lighthearted way.
Here are a few that we love and why:
Gilmore Girls – This was the first TV show we binge watched together. Although I have to admit that binge-watching might be a bit of an exaggeration. It took us more than a year to get all the way through.
The quirky dialogue made us laugh and gave me lots of chances to share bits of pop culture history. We often paused the show just so I could explain something. The plot lines gave us plenty of life lesson topics to discuss– the over stressed daughter, the teen mom, the domineering grandparents, snobby peers, college planning, learning to laugh at yourself, and, of course, the fact that coffee makes everything better!
Charmed (the original version, of course!) – As someone who has two sisters, I always loved this idea of the Power of Three and just the general idea of Sister Power. Watching this with my two daughters led to lots of fascinating discussions about the pros and cons of having sisters. There are some rather heavy topics in this show related to death and when one of the sisters died it really upset my youngest, but that opened the door for deeper discussions about losing people we love. This silly show actually touches on quite a few topics related to identity, dating, and growing up. My daughters are a lot more likely to talk about these topics and feel comfortable asking serious questions under the pretext of how it applies to a TV show, rather than if we are sitting down for a serious dating discussion.
MASH – We started this a couple years ago and then stopped. It was too intense for my youngest daughter at the time. But, now we have been revisiting it. The lessons about humanity are priceless. This was the show I watched every night with my dad and he would tell me stories about his Vietnam experiences. Now I get to share those stories with my daughters and it gives them a chance to know the grandfather who is no longer here.
Psych – We are just now starting this show together. When we pulled it up and looked at all the episodes, my oldest daughter pointed out that we will need to work hard to make sure we finish it before she graduates from high school. Realizing these long nights of family TV time will come to an end has made me appreciate the laughs and talks we share while we watch that much more.
Our favorites might not work for you, but I bet you could find some great shows to share with your kids that would give you this same sense of connection. So, this holiday season, take some time to introduce your kids to shows you used to watch and let yourself indulge in a bit of reminiscing as you make some new family memories.