Oct 4

Fluffy Gardens – what should we be telling children?

When I first created Fluffy Gardens, I’ve got to admit, this question is something I didn’t fully consider. Hey, I was too busy stumbling around blindly at the time, desperately trying to make it look like I knew what I was doing.

What I knew straight off, however, was that I wanted Fluffy Gardens to be safe, and positive.

Specific messages came later and often just evolved naturally from the characters. Paolo the Cat, for example ‘ it’s okay to be who you are. Acceptance of self and others became a common theme.

Friendship, helping and being helped became familiar elements in the show. A sense of community (friendly neighbourhood type of community, not ‘scary cult gathering guns’ community – that would have been wrong for the show, though if anyone is looking for show ideas, by all means feel free to go with it).

But once the blind stumbling around was out of the way and I had a grip on things, the question consumed me ‘ what should we be telling children?

That everything is wonderful? Everyone can be great to each other? As a father, the question becomes even more personal. There is more at stake in my own life, as there is with yours if you have children.

One of the messages I didn’t tell children is this: life can be tough.

Really tough sometimes.

I dread teaching my girls that one. Or them finding out for themselves.

But, as it happens, knowing that big life lesson and being aware of it actually guided some of the messages that I chose to tell children with Fluffy Gardens. I hope when my own girls come to learn that one big lesson I never touched on that, on some level, they remember the good things. That they’re okay, they can still grow and they can help and be helped. That they aren’t alone.

Some messages shouldn’t be learned from television. But the good stuff? We can reinforce that, build on it and help parents where we can. Television is much more than entertainment.

It’s important for parents to remember that. And even more important that programme-makers remember it.

3 thoughts on “Fluffy Gardens – what should we be telling children?

  1. Andy Latham

    Can I resist the temptation of being the first commenter? Clearly not!

    I’d actually quite like to see a kids’ show tackle the “life is tough” lesson. It’s such an important thing to learn, and I think that if taught right it can actually be turned into a positive.

  2. Jay Post author

    Hey! A comment! Thanks, Andy.

    You’re right that it could be turned into a positive but, man, would it be tough. Firstly, you’d be taking on a huge responsibility and would risk giving a child a message before a parent is ready to tackle it themselves. Secondly, it’s often hard to get the positive across to children – they have a nasty habit of remembering the bad stuff and completely ignoring the happy ending (I’ll be doing a post on this at some point).

    There’s an example in Sesame Street where they wanted to tackle divorce. They filmed an entire episode on the subject and how it was okay and how it will work out for kids. The episode never aired. When they tested it, the children didn’t get that it would be okay and misinterpreted it in some pretty damaging ways.

    I’m not saying it can’t be done but it would be really tough. As you say, it is a very important lesson and one that children have to learn one way or another at some point.

    Thanks for the comment! Great to get the site moving!

  3. Andy Latham

    Ahh good points. I suppose there’s a whole different rule book when dealing with kids of that age. I guess this is the strength of what you plan for this site – explaining what you know of it.

    I’ve added the site to my RSS reader as I’m really keen to learn more about this tricky field :)


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