Why we watch the news

I watch the news every morning with a cup of coffee in my hands — like clockwork — at 6:05 to be exact. The kids know this is the only time no one (not even dad) can ask to change the channel. No cartoons, no Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, no stage audience laughs, just the news.  

My teenage son, who is up at 6 a.m. for the 7 a.m. bus, sits right next to me for my morning ritual. He nudges into the couch beside me. He brings his breakfast with him and a cup of coffee with sweet cream, his new ritual. It’s sort of our hangout time, Mom and son watching the goings-on of the world from our living room in the dark of early morning. 

All that bad news

It’s good to know the weather, especially here in Minnesota where we commiserate about the wind chill at the bus stop. But most of the rest of the news tends to make the world seem like a scary place.  

So much has been discussed on the topic of teens and technology. As concerned parents, we consider the exposure our tweens and teens have to topics we might’ve not known anything about at their respective ages. The devices they hold nearly constantly in their hands give us cause for this concern. But like a lot of other families, we have limits on what can be downloaded without our permission.

The funny thing is, the TV is on every day — at least in our home. I can turn it down or turn it off, but I can’t control what it tells me or tells my children. 

Why? It sounds odd, but I want my teenage son to know what’s out there. I want him to know how fortunate he is to go to school, how our country affords us the privilege of freedom and how lucky we are to go about our day and drive places safely. 

Global citizen

If he has a little a taste of the idea that there’s a whole world of people out there, perhaps his self-scope will be altered. 

It’s easy for us to drive to work and school, run our errands and involve our kids in great extra-curricular activities and think of nothing but our busy schedules. If he understands that there are people in situations much more dire than ours — places that are unsafe or troubled by poverty — perhaps his compassion will be sparked. 

I consider it my responsibility as a parent to teach him how to take care of himself. I also hope to engage his responsibility as a global citizen to give to those in need. 

There may be seasons when this is done regularly, or times when he feels the urge to donate funds to disaster-relief efforts, work at a shelter on a holiday or buy lunch for a friend who’s in a bad spot. 

I want to teach him to give. But, more than that, I want him to know how to follow his heart, when he feels that tug of empathy. 

Politics

As a high school sophomore, he’s currently taking U.S. history. He’s learning how our country’s leaders in the past have made decisions — and the outcomes of those decisions. 

And because he’s just three years away from gaining the right to vote, I want him to follow the current presidential race from its beginnings. It’s educational, listening to the debates and even the candidates when they speak at news conferences. 

And it gives me the opportunity to ask him: What do you think of one way of thinking versus another way, and why? What makes a good president? Who would you vote for? 

Then there are mornings we catch the weather with our warm mugs in hand, and I look over at him and smile and switch the channel to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. 

And those mornings are important ones, too. 


Jennifer Wizbowski lives in Excelsior with her husband, 11-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son. Send comments, questions and story ideas to jwizbowski@mnparent.com.