Fearful of raising a child hooked on sitcoms

April 13, 1992|By James Endrst | James Endrst,The Hartford Courant

I read yet another report the other day concluding that television -- in this case, exposure to TV violence -- is harmful to children.

And I believe it's true.

I'm afraid I'm raising a sitcom kid.

It's almost an invasion-of-the-body-snatchers syndrome. One moment you're talking to your own flesh and blood, the next it's some TV scriptwriter's idea of a child.

For the past several weeks, for example, my 7-year-old daughter, Nina, has been walking around the house greeting every conceivable breach of good conduct or taste with the huffy reprimand "How RUUUUDE!"

At first I thought it was cute, even clever, part of a faux-British accent she likes to put on when she entertains with Ken and Barbie, dresses up or is in a silly mood.

Then I discovered that she had picked it up from a rerun of ABC's "Full House," a show I have always considered junk. Apparently, it's one of the show's signature lines.

Over time, I've come to realize that Nina is basing some of her impressions about family life on what she sees on television.

If that's not enough to scare the pants off any parent, I don't know what is.

With the exception of "The Cosby Show," which features an intact family with two highly educated, loving, concerned and awake parents, the TV families my daughter spends the most time with are filled with people I'd never let her near in real life.

Like the obnoxious "Who's The Boss," which stars Tony Danza as a widower with a young daughter who works as a live-in housekeeper for a divorced woman with her young son and highly sexed mother.

Or there's the impossibly silly setup of "Full House," a sitcom about a widowed San Francisco sportscaster raising his three daughters with the help of his best friend and brother-in-law.

But heaven forbid I should ever speak unkindly of these shows or their characters, because my child will always rise angrily to their defense, citing episodic sensitivities, anti-drug messages, good deeds done, etc.

Somehow, I never have the comeback to convince her of my point of view.

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