What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate

That’s the most famous line from the movie Cool Hand Luke. It could also define what’s happening in the American family. Families no longer talk.

As soon as dinner is over—if by chance the family has actually gathered all at one time for dinner—there is little talking. Usually the TV is on. Some parents even let their kids listen to their iPods while they are at the table (but that’s another blog for another time).

If the automobile took the family out of the house, the television brought the world into the house. We are surrounded by noise. We have hundreds of channels and continue to surf, trying to find something to watch when there’s little or nothing worth watching.

We waste the one life we have watching commercials on everything from cars to carbs to calories and cholesterol. We are bombarded and inundated with news we can’t use and the opinions of people we should care less about what they think. Since when did I EVER need to listen to a celebrity tell me what the meaning of life or happiness is?

Moms use the TV or DVDs to entertain their kids at home. We get in the SUV or the van and turn on the DVD player. Kids can’t even ride 10 minutes to church without watching a video. It’s the dumbing down of our children and the irresponsibility of parents.

A new study shows that parents and children stop talking when the TV is on. According to an article in USA TODAY, “For every hour in front of the TV, parents spoke 770 fewer words to children.” The results of the study are found in the June 2009 issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. In other words, this is not just the preacher saying this is a problem.

Children and parents zone out when the boob tube is on. It’s not interaction to watch a video together unless you spend quality time after the video discussing the lessons learned. Of course, that would rule out most of the silly things we actually let our kids watch.

Studies reveal that babies (and we now have a baby channel on many cable networks so moms can further neglect their responsibilities) who watch a lot of TV know fewer words. One expert said, “Babies learn language from hearing it spoken.”

There have now been numerous studies that show TV hurts a child’s language development. Not to mention that the constant influx of media teaches them secular worldviews, allowing them hear language and jokes that are demeaning and filled with sarcasm.

Since most parents don’t monitor the television, children are watching TV ads on everything from genital herpes to erectile dysfunction. They are bombarded with beer commercials implying that cool people drink. You can’t teach values if you are allowing those values to be undermined with your approval by constantly leaving the television on in your home.

My suggestion is: stop parking your kids in front of the TV. Give them good books to read. Reward them for reading. My oldest daughter read 100 books in the first grade. She got rewarded for it. She still remembers some of those books, I doubt is she remembers the junk she missed by not being glued to the tube.

Learn to talk to your family. Have a conversation. It’s time for the parents to be the stars in their homes, not some celebrity who is on their fourth marriage and living with someone who is not their spouse. It’s time for God’s people to turn off Hollywood and start taking time to be holy.

God gave you a remote control with an on/off button. Use it. You’ll like the difference it makes.

One thought on “What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate

  1. Hello Michael: This blog is a classic. I am suggesting you publish it in a pamphlet form. I am sitting in The Homewood Suites in Brentwood, Tennessee – a suburb of Nashville – on our way home to Texas from a two week tour of our family in Ohio. Michael, I found in visiting my cousins, nieces, and uncle, in Ohio – my wife’s cousins in Ohio, that they don’t communicate! Everyone is talking and no one is listening! I gre up in the 40’s we had a radio – that is it! you turn it off and you got to listen to a person! Listening is an art. Read my answer to one of your former blogs – I said the very same thing!
    Wes Allard – Mansfield, Texas

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