Carolyn Hax

The Washington Post Sunday - - ARTS & STYLE - CAROLYN HAX

Con­stant TV us­age is calm­ing to some, stress­ful to oth­ers.

Dear Carolyn: I aman older woman, and not very mo­bile. I moved in withmy son’s fam­ily fol­low­ing an in­jury. They have been very help­ful and sup­port­ive.

There is only one chair that I can get up from unas­sisted, in the liv­ing room. In the evenings, I like to watch TV there. I re­ally have limited op­tions of other things I can do. My daugh­ter-in-law is re­sent­ful about my TV use.

When I was rais­ing my son, our cus­tom was to keep the TV on pretty much all of the time. My daugh­ter-in-law has told me many times that she wants to keep the TV off pretty much all of the time. She won’t spend any time in the liv­ing room when the TV is on (even with the vol­ume down). I’m not watch­ing any­thing of­fen­sive, just game shows and net­work shows. She doesn’t bring up the TV of­ten, but I can tell by her ex­pres­sions that the TV both­ers her.

My son got me a TV formy room, but I don’t want to be off by my­self all of the time. He also got me a record­ing de­vice so I can watch my shows when my daugh­terin-law is at work, but I don’t un­der­stand how to use it. My son has tried to get my daugh­ter-in-law to re­spect my TV watch­ing, but I think it is caus­ing some con­flict be­tween them. She is very stub­born.

How can I get my daugh­ter-in-law to re­lax aboutmy TV watch­ing? Hav­ing the TV on didn’t seem to hurt my son when he was grow­ing up. I don’t think it’s go­ing to hurt my grand­kids. J.

Given how you’ve dug your­self in against adapt­ing, the daugh­ter-in-law isn’t alone in her stub­born­ness.

I am sym­pa­thetic; I’msure you’d pre­fer not to need your son and his fam­ily, and to be able to hop about the house at will. In­de­pen­dence dies hard.

How­ever, you’re quick to dis­miss the ef­forts (and ex­pen­di­tures) your fam­ily has made to com­pro­mise on the TV. And, you’re also quick to at­tribute your daugh­ter-in-law’s stance to her char­ac­ter, in­stead of con­sid­er­ing that, just as you have con­crete rea­sons for want­ing the TV on, she might have con­crete rea­sons for want­ing it off.

For ex­am­ple: Even at a low vol­ume, the TV is au­ral clut­ter, which an­noys some peo­ple. It in­volves flick­er­ing light, also an ir­ri­tant to some. (Game shows = flashy and noisy.) And, fur­ther, when the TV is on, it takes a room that might oth­er­wise be used for many pur­poses— con­ver­sa­tion, hob­bies, read­ing— and co-opts it for a sin­gle pur­pose: watch­ing TV.

Your daugh­ter-in-law could be gen­eros­ity in­car­nate and still see TV as a blight.

So, Sug­ges­tion 1: Lay off her. She opened her home and pri­vate life to you, and her pref­er­ences mat­ter.

Sug­ges­tion 2: Have your son pro­gram the de­vice to record your shows, so you’ll need only to learn how to ac­cess them. I re­al­ize you’re fight­ing a life­long habit. How­ever, watch­ing when you’re alone is the per­fect, co­op­er­a­tive so­lu­tion, and you owe it to this fam­ily to em­brace it.

Third: Since you want the com­pany, stay in the liv­ing room as peo­ple come home, TV off, with mag­a­zines, puz­zles, crafts, any­thing you needn’t plug in. In this home, that’s the in­clu­sive move. Read the whole tran­script or join the dis­cus­sion live at noon Fri­days at www.wash­ing­ton­post.com/dis­cus­sions. Write to Tell Me About It, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@wash­post.com.

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