There is much to be said about southern pride. There is a real sense of history in the South and family bonds here are strong. It is not uncommon for multiple generations to live together in the same house or to have large family gatherings on the regular. The Big Sunday Dinner is still a regular occurrence for many families in the south.
The south is also famous for letting (sometimes almost forcing) kids to grow up slowly. Unlike the larger cities on the coasts and up North, where kids are forced to grow up too quickly, in Texas and other parts of the south, childhood is extended for as long as possible. Parents restrict access to themes and topics that are deemed “too adult” for younger kids and even younger teens to handle.
With so much emphasis being placed on childhood and family tradition and values, though, it can be difficult to find entertainment that the entire family can enjoy. A family can only re watch the latest VeggieTales release or Phineas and Ferb specials so many times. And, thanks to the Internet even the most sheltered kids know that there is more out there than the Disney Channel (not that there’s anything wrong with the Disney Channel, most of us were raised on it)!
So what do you do? How do you find entertainment that the entire family can use and enjoy without having to worry that your kids are going to learn ideas and topics before you’re ready to introduce them?
Expand Your TV Package
Wait, what? You’re trying to keep your kids from seeing things you might not approve of. Why would you allow them access to more channels? Here’s the thing: the more channels you have, the more likely you are to have access to programming that everybody can enjoy.
For example, Texas Direct TV packages start with more than a hundred channels. Among those channels are science channels, learning channels, history channels and a variety of other programming that is family appropriate without resorting to the cliche children’s tropes that drive the grownups crazy. If you get the sports package, you and your kids can watch football all day–and what’s more Texan than football?
YouTube has come a long way since it first gained traction. There is more there now than stupid human tricks and (admittedly cute) cats playing pianos. There are entire scripted and professionally produced shows and series that are aired on YouTube. A lot of families have, for example, really gotten into Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop series–a show that features Wil and a variety of guests playing different board, card and table top games. Sci Show and Crash Course History are very popular and even used in classrooms now. Your teens will probably love The Vlogbrothers. There’s even a Sesame Street YouTube channel!
Shows and Movies Set in the South
One of the most fun things to do as a family is to sit down and watch television shows and movies that are set in and filmed in the south (to be fair, this is fun no matter where you live). It’s fun to see places you’ve visited featured on TV or in a movie! And, during family gatherings, it’s fun to track down older movies and shows and listen to the older generations reminisce about what used to be where and what has changed. To Kill a Mockingbird, the original Flipper, and Sounder are just a few of the movies filmed and set in the south.
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The library is a great place to find older movies and shows that might not be available online or for sale any more. A lot of the old Disney classic movies and kids adventure movies, for example, can be found at the library but finding them elsewhere is really difficult.
The point is: there are a lot of options out there for families who need something that is enjoyable to everyone at family gatherings or on family movie nights. Get creative, make good use of parental controls and passwords, and there’s no reason everybody can’t enjoy a movie or show together.
Remember: “family friendly” doesn’t have to mean “geared toward babies and toddlers.” It just has to mean wholesome entertainment that multiple generations can enjoy together! For your family that might mean watching old games on a sports channel. For someone else’s that might mean watching all of the SciShow videos on YouTube. Get creative and you’ll find something that makes everyone happy.