I grew up watching the Disney Sunday movie every week with my parents and siblings. It was the highlight of the week for my sister and I and we couldn’t wait for Sunday to arrive. Mom would pop popcorn for us and it was the one night we were allowed to have a soda AND eat in the family room in front of the TV. When Kevin and I started our family, I discovered Disney had their own channel that ran Disney shows 24 hours a day. I was so excited, I wanted my kids to have the same fond memories of Disney that I had as a child with my family.
Then reality hit home. My kids grew and they started watching the Disney shows for older children. I have to admit I didn’t pay much attention to what they were watching because I assumed if it was on Disney it was safe. (After 10 years of Disney shows as an adult, you tend to get a bit burned out on them). Then one day I was passing by the family room and I heard one of the TV characters talking about not wearing fur from an animal because it had to die to make the fur coat. WHAT? Are you kidding me? When I was a kid Disney never had shows like this. I decided to sit down and see what my kids were watching, this couldn’t be Disney. The character went on to discuss how they were a vegan and didn’t eat or wear anything from an animal because it was cruel to kill animals.
I don’t have a problem with people who make different food choices than I do, it’s a personal choice and we should each be free to choose what we eat. I do have a problem when a show tailored to children starts pushing agenda’s on impressionable audiences like our kids. Whatever happened to letting a kid be a kid? As adults, we get flooded with personal/political agendas all the time. Isn’t it enough to bombard adults? Do we really need to flood our youth with these personal/political agendas? Disney was the family icon when I was growing up; it taught life lessons about respecting each other and obeying your parents. It was funny sometimes and sad sometimes but it was wholesome and for audiences of all ages. I don’t ever recall a Disney show telling me how or what I should eat.
After this experience, I set boundaries on what shows my kids could and couldn’t watch on Disney. One day while Conner was watching one of my approved Disney shows a commercial came on with First Lady Michele Obama. I saw my son watching intently to what she had to say. The kids on the commercial with her were talking about healthy food choices and healthy snacks. Obama challenged the kids to build a healthy sandwich. Conner watched as Mrs. Obama praised one child for building a sandwich made of all vegetables. She went on to praise another child for building a snack out of whole grain bread. Then when it came to the child who built a sandwich with lean turkey on it, there was no mention of the turkey being a healthy choice but instead she focused on a different item on the sandwich. Conner looked at me and said, “You know mom, that’s the second commercial of hers that I have seen and she always likes the fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy stuff but she never talks about the meat. I like meat and it helps me get the iron and B12 my body needs to be strong and healthy. Does she know how good meat is for your body and for brain development?” Conner and I had a nice discussion about healthy eating and I assured him he was right, meat is a great protein choice.
I was thrilled that Conner and I had the chance to talk about eating healthy because of Mrs. Obama’s infomercial. What bothered me was that it appeared to be following the theme I have seen emerging for the last few years with Disney where only one side of an issue is portrayed. Veganism or vegetarianism is a personal choice, it isn’t about being right or wrong but Disney doesn’t tell that to our kids. Young minds are very impressionable and I do not respect a networks decision to promote personal agendas to young children. Children admire the stars on TV and they want to be just like them. I was hoping my children could grow up watching the Disney I loved but I guess I was wrong. Today’s Disney has hidden agenda’s in their children and pre-teen programs. I am disappointed my kids won’t have the opportunity to see the Disney I knew and loved. I never thought I would say this but Disney is no longer one of my approved networks for my kids to watch. I can’t trust Disney to reinforce or enrich my kids with accurate life lessons and responsibilities.