Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Honey, we're killing the kids!

You know the Capital One credit card commercial that has the by-line "What's in your wallet?" for some reason I had this flash thought/visual of somebody's hand in your wallet. I know, I know...that's not what they want me to think when they say that line....but, I did.

Right after that I had a visual of the Life Puzzle....and thought "What's in your Life Puzzle?"
And then I had the visual of a multitude of media messages, cultural messages just scrambling all the pieces of your Life!

All this erupted in my brain after watching a CNN clip about a new show on TLC called "Honey we're killing the kids'. The original was on the BBC--this is the new American version. The goal is to help these families with overweight and unhealthy kids learn new and healthier patterns in the course of the 13 weeks of shows.

The CNN clip showed a family of 5 where the mother and two boys are overweight (mother is also diabetic) while the father and one son are below weight. Their eating habits are fast food heaven as part of a "too much to do in a day, no time to cook" lifestyle. And as everyone knows, fast food is generally fat food. Add to this a video game, sedentary TV lifestyle and its a prescription for health disasters!

So, in theory, helping this family change it's eating habits/lifestyle is a good thing. But what greatly concerns me is having these young children exposed on national television--at a time when the 'edges of their Life Puzzle'..and thus their SELF development is in such a crucial formative stage. While these children are not stars like the kids on the Partridge Family or Little House on the Prairie or Full House, etc.--what we do know from 50 years of television is that many of the children who star in these shows have significantly impaired adulthoods. The ability for children, who are in the formative stages of SELF, to negotiate through the world of television stardom has lots of stories of kids who did not transition well into their adulthood.

In a media engrossed world, our Life Puzzles are continually bombarded by outside messages. Adults have a certain measure of ability to keep these messages from shaping their SELF. But children do not--they are in the formative stages and are just now figuring out who they are. As
I watched these children on Honey, we're killing the kids, and all I could think was that they are so young they have no idea how their vision of SELF is being shaped.

I can guarantee you that most of the adults creating this show--from the nutritionists, health professionals and even the cameraman have very little awareness of the 'edge development' of children! So while they have good intentions on a physical level with the goal of helping these children, are they harming these children on a much deeper level? So, it's not only "Honey, we're killing the kids" on a physical level--we're going to add another dimension--"Honey, we're screwing up their minds" on a mental-emotional level?! What show should we create next to fix this?

Children are dependent on adults providing them environments where they can develop healthy physical, emotional, thinking, sexual and spiritual edges which leads to a strong SELF able to walk into adulthood. Is this show a healthy environment for these children to develop their edges? My concern for these overweight children is that their edge formation is being heavily influenced while being exposed on national television. They will "see" themselves on these shows and those images will have a powerful impact on their view of SELF. Will their parents or other adults help them nurture strong edges as a result or will the "shaping" of their SELF through this experience be something they have to figure out by themselves? In a world where many adults do not understand child development and the stages of emotional/cognitive growth, I fear that many of these children will have to negotiate this by themselves and it will be difficult.

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