My husband, who’s a good man, is a television addict. Now that our kids are getting older and more aware, I do not want the TV on at all hours. He argues that, after a stressful day at work, it’s his way to relax and unwind. Do I let the TV play on?


Tom: As an admitted lover of TV myself, I can tell you that it may be unrealistic to demand that your husband give up all TV shows. But it is certainly reasonable to request he turn it off when little eyes and ears are about. Let’s face it. Hours of channel-surfing can be deadly for everyone in the household, those with tiny or large feet. I try to make sure that TV does not become a dominant force in our lives. To this end, we invested in an entertainment cabinet whose doors completely close. Caroline and I love this because our television is no longer the center of our family room. Out of sight, out of mind.

We believe that television viewing should never be passive, a default activity when there’s nothing else to do. It’s not healthy background noise, and we should definitely not be eating meals in front of it. (An occasional family DVD dinner night is another story.) Rather, we should identify a few favorite, worthwhile shows and then turn on the TV for those specific programs only. If you and your husband can agree on these shows, you can pledge not to gripe when he’s watching them. For his part, he can promise not to sit idly by, flipping channels.

Caroline: We certainly respect families who’ve thrown out the TV altogether. But for us, we’ve found many beneficial shows on the History Channel, Discovery, The Learning Channel and others. Of course, watching Lenten and Easter services with Pope Benedict was wonderful, thanks to EWTN.

Tom teaches high school and college classes, so he tries hard to be conversant with the culture and aware of what’s out there. For those reasons, the TV is allowed in our home. Our goal, however, is to be the master of the tube, so that it does not master us.

I never thought I’d be saying this, but I’ve become completely sold on digital video recorders (DVRs).

Tom and I follow a series or two — we consider it our little date each week — but we don’t want to give up the time with our kids. The DVR records the programs for us weekly, without the hassle of bulky video tapes.

Then, after the kids go to bed, we can snuggle up and enjoy our favorite shows. Thanks to a handy “skip” button on the remote, we can bypass all commercials, which are usually trashy anyway. This saves a lot of time, too.

Once a major couch potato during every Saturday of football season, Tom can now watch an entire college football game in under an hour. Hallelujah!

And, of course,  there are the amazing features of being able to pause, rewind and then fast-forward live broadcasts.

Perhaps you and your husband can strike a deal: If he can agree to curb his viewing habits, you’ll consent to a DVR, a device that every man I know thinks is the coolest thing ever.

The McDonalds are family-life coordinators for the Archdiocese of

Mobile, Alabama.