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Why bother parenting when you can stick ’em in front of Little House on the Prairie?

January 25, 2012


Before The Kids go to bed for a little reading time, we let them watch 30 minutes or an hour of tv.  I know they’re not supposed to watch television before bed, but they don’t watch a whole lot otherwise, and they seem just fine in spite of my parenting misstep. It’s not like I let them watch Nightmare on Elm Street or scary Nancy Grace.  We usually go with something pretty benign, like the funny video show, or Jeopardy.

Judge if you must.  However, I believe that I have found the holy grail of television.   No one smokes, swears or does drugs.  The girls are dressed modestly, and everyone works together.  Gratuitous violence isn’t ever a part of the show.  The dad, Pa, isn’t hard on the eyes, and I’m fairly certain they’ve never even heard of the Jersey Shore (the place, not the trashy people).  In fact, these people pretty much only knew one place:  Walnut Grove.  Did you figure it out?  That’s right.  Little House on the Prairie.

Now I’m not one to live exclusively by any book, philosophy, or television show.  Bits and pieces from various sources combined together, in addition to my own knowledge and experiments tend to work pretty well.   But.  However.  This show is really on to something.  Or was on to something.  Whatever.

Once, when the Ingalls family fell on hard times,  Charles was working a couple of jobs, which kept him away from the family quite a bit.  Know what they did?  They pulled their daughter Carrie out of school, so she could get a job working for the town seamstress.  She completed her assignments in the evening, and returned to school once the family was financially on track and could pay their bill at Oleson’s Mercantile.  Before you freak out, understand that I know kids need school.  I’m not suggesting that anyone remove their minor child from school for any reason.  I’m just not sure there are many kids today who would proudly step up and help the family, briefly or not, dumping all of their earnings into the family money jar.  They even had their two year old out there picking potatoes!

Not only did she share (well, give) her earnings to the family, she thought it was great to earn $1.45 for the entire week. She practically told her boss that it was too much.  She skipped home, shouting it to everyone she passed.  You can’t even get a decent loaf of bread for that anymore.  That’s beside the point, though.  We can’t go back in time.  However, I love that they were panicked that they had to charge a few household items instead of paying with cash.  I know several million Americans who need to learn that lesson.

Miss Beadle, Walnut Grove’s wonderful teacher, was one of the highest paid and most revered people in town.  When did that change?   Her students, along with their parents, cared for and appreciated her.  She, like many teachers today, would do anything for her students, often buying needed supplies and gathering their assignments when they missed school.  My children have had some wonderful teachers, at one of the best schools in the area, and I can promise that you won’t find them at the top of the money maker list in Richmond County.

Besides the obvious differences, like sleeping on a mattress made of hay, reading by oil lamps, and somehow surviving without an xBox or iPod touch, the children of Walnut Grove respected their parents.  Very rarely did a child talk back.   Was this because they’d still get a big ol’ whoopin’ if they sassed their mama?  Quite possibly.

Pa was willing to do whatever it took to get his family back on financial track.  He often worked several jobs at a time, including some where he got dirty.  These dirty jobs were frowned upon by most of the townspeople, but he didn’t care.  It was work, and it paid real money.  I’ll mention those several million Americans again.

So you get my point.  These were real people, with real problems, but they found real solutions.  There wasn’t a magic pill that cured diabetes.  They ate healthy foods.  There wasn’t a computer to compute the problem for you.  They did the math.  They didn’t sit and wait for a job to come to them.  They found work.  They didn’t have the television on during mealtimes.  They ate together.

Is it really all that hard?  It might be, but we can try.  I mean, if Mr. Oleson could tolerate his mean old witch of a wife, even smiling in her presence, anything is possible.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2012 12:06 pm


  2. Alice permalink
    January 26, 2012 3:23 pm

    I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie every Monday night at 7:00!! I was exactly the same age as Laura, so I really grew up with her! My daughter Amelia, has always loved it as well, watching the re-runs and she even has a few seasons on DVD, and in third grade I made her a Laura Ingalls Wilder costume for Halloween. I think I have every episode memorized. I agree with you… only lessons can be learned from that show!

  3. February 1, 2012 11:52 am

    I love this one!! However, I don’t want a home birth with boiling water and ice blocks!!

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