Read to your child.

Yes, it happened. My daughter discovered Elmo. My husband thought we would make it through toddler-hood without that furry red monster-tot, but it turns out, we didn't. Now, I'm not bashing Elmo. He's a great way to reinforce learning about things that are relevant to young children. Heck, after Salem watched "Potty Time with Elmo" she ran to the potty numerous times, claiming she had to go "poo poo." All but one time, she didn't. But she sure was more interested in it than any other time prior. But the keyword here, is "reinforce." My point is simply that television, whether you watch it live, or get it from the library (commercial-free) like we do, is not enough for our kids.

According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., a global marketing research firm, the average child spends 1,680 minutes each week watching television, while the amount of time the average parent spends in meaningful conversation with their children is only 3.5 minutes. Perhaps you think your toddler isn't capable of "meaningful conversation" yet, but even just spending time with them... playing legos, or having a tea party. Did you know of a large amount of 4-6 year olds, when asked if they would rather watch TV or spend time with their fathers, 54% preferred television.

People, this speaks about us as parents.

When was the last time spent some quality time with your kid? It's really not that hard. We all need a break now and then, but how much of the time we ignore our kids is a needed break and how much of it is just selfish? I need to hear this myself, folks. I have been charged with turning a show on for Salem while doing absolutely nothing worthwhile on the internet, and found guilty. Why do I do this? Why, when I find so much more satisfaction in spending time reading book after book to my little girl?

The benefits of reading to your child, according to Early Moments, include:
-a stronger relationship with you
-academic excellence
-basic speech skills
-the basics of how to read a book
-better communication skills
-mastery of language
-more logical thinking skills
-acclamation to new experiences
-enhanced concentration and discipline
-the knowledge that reading is fun!

But here's what it looks like on a more personal level:
Every time I read a book to Salem, I feel more relaxed, because I have no other agenda, and we're both taking time to chill out and forget about the anxieties around us. She recognizes things in the story that are familiar to her and points them out to me, "Yellow Dog!" I smile, excited about how much she is learning. She turns the pages, and I notice that her fine-motor skills are improving. Sometimes, she reads me the page from her memory, "Do you like hat? No. Goodbye. Goodbye!" I laugh and am impressed with how much she remembers. Sometimes she even remembers who the book is by, "Go Dog Go by P D Ee-man" It makes me happy to think she is enjoying the same authors I read a gazillion times over when I was little. "Amen," she usually says when the book is all over. I laugh at the irony of Go, Dog. Go! being a prayer, whispered between the lines of silly rhymes and colorful pictures. Quickly, she's off to pull the next book down from her shelf. I realize--she is never bored with books. She always wants to read more.

I am the one who gets bored. Or, perhaps, "distracted" is a better term. Sometimes, I forget that I can ignore my phone and iPod, and the world will still go on. You see, it's me who needs to unplug and pick up a book. I need to show my daughter the value of reading, myself.

So, Elmo will stay on the shelf a little longer, and we will limit his time with Salem to one show a day, because Elmo can't hold a growing human being in his arms and wonder at the hunger he or she has to learn from her mother and father.

He's no replacement for the love and education that comes from a parent.


  1. I agree, but i also don't see anything wrong taking a break to do nothing every now and then. Its a bit extreme to suggest that the effects of a parent who has their child in front of the tv 18 hours a day are the same as if once in a while, the kid watches an educational show. If a child watches elmo once in a while, it wont ruin them and their relationship with the parent. It wont destroy all the progress they made from being read to. I think you are definitely right about all the wonderful benefits reading and spending quality time with your child has. I dont think a stay at home mother who devotes most of her time to her child should feel guilty about putting on a movie for the kids to watch so she can take a break, even if it is to do nothing. So much of a stay at home mothers day is spent totally selfless, so what is wrong with surfing the web while a movie plays? having a little unproductive lazy time after the time constantly spent being productive? Mothers are still human beings, and its healthy to take a mental break sometimes. I guarantee having a mentally exhausted mother would be more negative for a child than elmo. A break is sometimes needed for the mommy to continue being the involved, hands-on, wonderful mama she is 99.9% of the time. Dont feel guilty about getting distracted sometimes, because along with being a mama, you are an adult human being with needs and interests separate from your child, and there is nothing wrong with that.

  2. Amen Sista!! I love how much my little little guy loves to read and the bonding time it gives us!


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