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Your Kids Shouldn’t Watch the Family Shows We Grew Up On

Photograph by Netflix

Have you noticed a trend lately in television? All of the shows you and I grew up with as kids are making a comeback. Some are sequels: "Boy Meets World" is now "Girls Meets World," showing the life of Cory and Topanga's daughter and her friends. Even good old Shaun is back. Our favorite, the Tanner clan, is back in "Fuller House" (a Netflix sequel to the reigning champ of TGIF "Full House").

There are also rumors that old shows from the '80s and '90s are getting a reboot, including "Coach," "Twin Peaks," "MacGyver," "The Powerpuff Girls," "Married … With Children" and my favorite reboot which has already been confirmed, Gilmore Girls.

Question, though: Are the shows we grew up watching now safe for our own kids to watch? Maybe not. The issues of today are being worked into the storylines, which does show that times are changing. But these issues may also be be things you don't want your 8-year-old to hear about just yet.

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Netflix's "Fuller House" is a prime example. I, like many women I know, secretly binge-watched the entire first season. We just couldn't help it. We had to find out what happened to DJ, Stephanie, Michelle and Kimmy. Although the Olson twins (who played Michelle) are not in the show, their character is referenced several times throughout the season. Even though we all knew Uncle Jesse was a wild child back in the '80s on "Full House," it went over many kids' heads that he got around (if you know what I mean). Now that little Stephanie, the middle child in the Tanner clan of girls, is the voluptuous Aunt Stephanie who has taken on that roll in the house, it's a little more blatant. We know she gets around with the guys she meets. Her sister DJ and housemate Kimmy regularly mention her revealing outfits. And we all have to wonder if romance will bloom with Kimmy's daughter and DJ's son.

The Disney Channel's "Girl Meets World" is another example of how today's issues are working their way into our children's shows. Bullying, abandonment, identity, relationships and religion are all being discussed. These are important topics that kids should be learning more about, but parents need to know that they are being discussed, and someone else's view is being presented to their kids. Not every show is filled with fluff that we can just let our kids watch without us. When hard issues come up, and we as parents aren't there to discuss them and help our kids process those feelings and thoughts, we just let the TV tell our kids what to think. Not an ideal situation.

The University of Michigan put out some excellent tips for monitoring what your kids watch, but it will take you and your time to do this:

Watch shows with your children and talk about them afterward.

  • Discuss the consequences of violence (if you allow older children to watch violent programs) and other ways the conflict could have been resolved.
  • Talk about stereotyping and prejudice in TV programs.
  • Discuss commercials with children. You can help your child recognize sales pitches given by commercials and evaluate whether the messages in ads are realistic.
  • Discuss the differences between reality and make-believe. Children interpret what they see differently than adults. They may not be able to distinguish fact from fiction. Explain differences between news and entertainment, and reality and make-believe.
  • Share your own beliefs and values.

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Remember, the TV is not a babysitter no matter how old your kids are or how mature. Keep an eye on what your child watches. Limit how much they watch, and let them know what they can and can't watch without you present.

Today's reboot TV shows can be a lot of fun for parents and kids to watch together as your kids see the characters you loved as a kid, but who are relevant to their own lives today. You get to see what happened to those characters you obsessed over as a kid, too. (Does Rory ever get back together with Logan? Or Jess?)

Just keep in mind that the topics have changed, and our kids are facing issues we didn't have to face until we were much older.

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