My husband and I grew up in the same state, only an hour away from each other. He lived in the suburbs of one city, I grew up in the suburbs of another. Yet we were worlds apart.
We both grew up in homes where the television was always on. Always.
They were rarely tuned to the same channels.
His mom watched soap operas and family dramas. Mine watched game shows and crime dramas. Both our fathers watched the news, but mine also watched 60 Minutes, while his family watched the Wonderful World of Disney.
The difference that mattered, though, was what we ourselves watched. What created the soundtracks of our childhoods didn’t matter. The most profound impact on our marriage would evolve from the movies we chose.
My husband loved Planet of the Apes, Omega Man, Soylent Green, Logan’s Run, Silent Running, and others whose names I barely ever knew and can no longer recall.
I was watching Yours, Mine, and Ours; Cheaper by the Dozen; The Sound of Music; Meet Me in St. Louis; Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; and Life with Father.
He was internalizing the great fears of the 1970’s about the impending population crisis.
I was dreaming of a large family.
I lost. It hurt.
I blame the movies. (And him for being selfish, and myself for not fighting with every ounce of my being. But it started with those movies.)
When our sons were young teens, he wanted to share all these “classic” movies with them. They’d seen most of mine when they were younger, because, obviously, I was watching child-friendly movies. Since I blame those movies for my lack of progeny, I didn’t want to watch them with the guys.
I did say helpful things to my sons like, “That movie is the reason you don’t have more siblings. It’s ridiculous! Big families are wonderful, and the world has plenty of room for everyone if we all share! Don’t let those movies brainwash you like they did your dad.”
They promised not to go over to the dark side. They even told me my movies were better.
Athough this is painful for me (yes, present tense), I did learn from it. Mostly, I learned about forgiveness. It took a long time to get there, but I did.
I also learned to be very careful about what my own children were reading and watching. I did not forbid them from things that did not reflect my own values, but we talked about it. I taught them to look for its underlying message or presumptions.
I wanted them to see there is not a writer/movie-maker out there who does not have their own take on the world, and if you look, you can see it. Then you decide whether you agree with it or not. And you can enjoy the movie and still think the philosophy is rubbish.
(I also told them to actually listen to their wives and discuss their differences, and to speak up, and keep speaking if necessary.)
What about you? Can you see the impact of your childhood viewing habits in yourself today?