Soap Operas not Good for Children: a Woman’s Childhood Experience

During spring, summer and winter school vacations children tend to watch more television. With that said, there a lot of things that come on during day time television that are not good for young children to watch. I remember as a child experiencing some strange sensations in places I rather not get into, from watching some rather steamy scenes of lovemaking on soap operas. The adults thought that I wasn’t paying much attention to those soaps, but I was doing more than just watching them I was fantasizing about what it would be like for someone to hold and kiss me back in the early 90s. You see I remember over 20 years later passionate moments that Victor and Nikki had then Victor and Ashley on the Young and the Restless. Then there was Brooke and Ridge on the Bold and the Beautiful who seemed to forever have tears in their eyes with every embrace. Then of course Taylor one day becomes the new kid on the block and “steals” Ridge according to Brooke. Then who could forget Another World, Guiding Light, and Days of Our Lives during those muggy summers back then. I remember studying the kisses of some of those characters like Rachel who was in Another World and Reeva who had found many loves on the Guiding Light and Bo, you may remember with his dark, thick hair, how many girls with taste and women with fantasies wanted him to be a part of “…Our Lives.” I wasn’t too young not to know any different – my eyes and emotions were not restricted from what relatives didn’t think was harmful.

There were the common story themes of broken marriages, greed, power struggles, egos, sex, lies, manipulation, unwanted pregnancies, rape, fights, mental disorders, handicaps, murder, mayhem, jealousies, and confrontations. What’s funny is in the course of my life, I have had my share of many dramas such as these. I may have subconsciously handled personal issues in the way that I was conditioned to handle them by watching the soaps due to so many hours watching them during school vacations. Much of my childhood poetry had adult themes and now know why I was writing about relationship issues like cheating as young as 11.

Many of the observations I made were through a mind of a child. I formulated some good thoughts as well as bad based on what I seen the characters do, say and get away with on television. When I first actually noticed soaps and was able to understand the adult messages, I was about 10 years old.

The first thing I inferred from watching these pretend stories was that when couples grew tired of one another or when a new face came to town they would most likely have relationship problems that would often result in a breakup. To me, I learned that one should always be careful of the new person that comes in your life. I noticed that at times characters would cheat on their significant other and for some it was okay as long as they were good providers.

Life was never enjoyable for the soap opera characters something always had to be going on. If it wasn’t someone getting married, someone was in jail, stalking or being stalked, or worse, murdered off the show. But unlike the real world, the dead could come back again and pick up where they left off as if they never left the show.

Children grew up fast in soap opera world too! I remember thinking why couldn’t I and my friends grow up just as fast. One minute a character was holding a newborn in her hand, the next year or so she is giving her son or daughter keys to a car or a job with the family business.

The one thing I remember that was very true to reality was that the good times never lasted for long. A character maybe smiling on Monday, but by Friday he or she is emotional. Arguments and physical fights kept me glued to the television. There was that feeling of anticipation for the next scene then the next episode. Weekends didn’t go by fast enough before I was ready to sit in front of the television again hoping to absorb more daytime trash TV.

The men in the soap operas often carried on conversations at work; the women often visited one another at home. Most didn’t have any titles or positions of authority. They were pretty much the wife of someone powerful. I observed the more serious storylines seemed to evolve around the men and the petty ones around the women.

Many of the storylines suggested women could not be trusted. They were treacherous with one another, evil, conniving and would stop at nothing to destroy one another. Funny, when it came to handling their problems with men, these mischievous characters weren’t so strong.

I can’t tell you how many times I saw a character be in a car accident, wear some bandages for a few scenes then before you know it they are out of the hospital completely healed and attractive. Mentally handicapped characters would disappear for awhile sometimes years then come back mentally stable and ready to jump into bed with someone.

With all this soap watching, I would converse with neighborhood friends about the latest occurrences and if relatives were too busy to see them, I would inform them of what happened that day. Our community had a free phone service you could dial into and listen to recorded messages of what happened on the soaps that day. I wasn’t allowed to sit on the phone during the summer and talk to friends, but it was okay to listen to recorded messages about the soaps.

Needless to say, my summers were so long and hot that by the time school started I was ready for a little more than academics. Although I was too afraid to do anything as a girl, I had natural feelings for boys and was scolded when my developmental changes became noticeable.

The sad part is the women who sat with me and watched soaps were responsible for what my eyes saw, yet they didn’t feel that they were accountable for speeding me up in growth like the children’s lives were sped up in the soaps.

By Nicholl McGuire

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Over 20 years office work experience, six years completed college coursework, background in print media and communications, recognized for exceptional attendance and received merit increase for past job performance, self-published author and part-time entrepreneur, Internet marketing and social media experience. Interned for non-profit organization, women's group and community service business. Additional experience: teaching/training others, customer service and sales. Learn more at Nicholl McGuire and Nicholl McGuire Media

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