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Disrespect and the Disney Channel

The following guest column by Amy Hatch first appeared on one of my favorite sites, chambanamoms.com, where Hatch is the co-editor. Her daughter Emmie is 6. -- Tara

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the now-notorious essay in the Wall Street Journal by Amy Chua, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior.”

The Magic Kingdom has a snarky underside. Photo by dawnzy58 on Flickr.Chua asserts that her hard-line parenting style is just the antidote the West needs, even when her own husband objects.

I’m not going to critique Chua’s point of view — which we’ll all be able to read about in her just-released book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” — because better thinkers than I have already tackled that.

In fact, one of the responses to Chua’s excerpt is what inspired me. Lisa Belkin of The New York Times’ “Motherlode” blog posits that Chau’s publisher is “…banking on her message finding wide resonance among American moms worn out from trying to do everything right for kids who mimic Disney Channel-style disrespect for parents, spend hours a day on Facebook, pick at their lovingly prepared food and generally won’t get with the program.”

While I don’t necessarily agree that modern mothers are searching for the magic forumla for dealing with their media-saturated brats, I do agree with this: “Kids who mimic Disney Channel-style disrespect for parents.”

Can I get an amen?

There was a brief period when Emmie was allowed to watch some of the tweener shows that pass for programming on the Disney Channel.

Shortly thereafter, she started indulging in an awful lot of sassy back-talk.

Even a simple request to pick up her shoes was met with the toss of her head, a palm in the air, and “I’m outta here!”

And so on, and so forth.

Finally, one afternoon, she threatened to kick someone in the head. I don’t remember who received the threat or what it was in relation to, but I do remember the reckoning that took place.

We demanded to know where she heard such a thing, and, finally, she wailed, “I saw it on ‘Good Luck Charlie!‘ It was funny!”

Memo to the writers over at Disney: It’s never funny for a child to threaten to kick anyone in the head.

Period, the end.

I know this makes me come off like a goody two-shoes, like a helicopter parent who monitors every minute of media consumed by her precious blank slate — and I know that my sister is somewhere in Rochester, N.Y., rolling her baby-blue eyes back into her head.

But the fact of the matter is that those shows are written to entertain adults — adults who understand the difference between a cheeky joke and full-on disrespect.

My 6-year-old — and, I imagine, most 6-year-olds — isn’t capable of making that fine distinction. I’d much rather my kid watch the cartoon violence of “Tom and Jerry” than learn to use her words as a weapon.

Since the “Good Luck Charlie” incident, we have a strict ban on any non-animated Disney TV show.

It’s not a popular stance — especially with Emmie — but it’s one of the few aspects of parenting that we can actually control.

Note: When this post first appeared on the home page, it prompted some discussion. You can read those comments by clicking here.

Reader Comments (1)

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