Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What We Let Our Kids Watch and Listen to Matters

I grew up in a Christian home that was for many years absent of most secular entertainment sources.  We didn't have cable TV, we didn't watch many movies that weren't G rated and the music that played in the background was almost always from the Christian radio station (with a few Christmas and cowboy or trucking records mixed in).  This created a safe atmosphere with very little exposure to swearing and sexually laced language.  I'm grateful for it, and grateful for the sensitivity that was built into my spirit for language that doesn't honor God.

Of course it wasn't possible to shield me from these things forever.  I heard classmates says things while riding on the public school bus that I would never, ever have heard at home.  Sleepovers at friend's homes where cable TV was available opened my eyes in a very literal way to a whole new world of images - and consequently, desires.  And it was in fourth grade at an outdoor skating rink that I saw my first pornographic magazine, brought to the rink by a kid who found it in his dad's dresser drawer.

Now that I'm a parent I wrestle with the best way to protect my kids from the influences of media, music and friendships.  Access to videos, music and images of an explicit nature is unparalleled and it is becoming increasingly easy for children to find the junk.  The "bar" for what is acceptable for open consumption by masses of young people is dropping shockingly fast.  And the blurring of cuss words by radio stations hardly passes as protection for kids ears.

Most parents, as far as I can tell, have absolutely no concern or standard by which they are guiding their children.  This seems to be almost as true in church going homes as it does in non-churched families.  I write about this because I'm on a journey no different than anyone else.  I am guilty of being way too lenient about what my kids watch and listen to.  The fact that my kids sing songs like Thrift Shop and Starships (songs laced with cuss words 'edited' out) word for word, is an indication that I've not done enough to lead and protect them.

My wife and I discuss this kind of stuff from time to time and we wonder how bad it can be when the kids don't really understand the words or the themes in the songs.  I was reminded today that the battle is much bigger than understanding lyrics.  The enemy of Christ is Satan, and Satan is pretty slick at distracting people's hearts and minds from a love of Christ.  I'm convinced that he uses music and other forms of media to fill people's minds with anything but thoughts of Jesus.  And he makes the really evil, junky 'stuff' stick the best.

There's a funny video on YouTube right now where someone takes clips from NFL games and puts words to the lips of the players.  Many of the things they say are harmless and funny.  However today I heard my son Jacob repeat the line "Pretty female parts."  Of all the lines in the nearly three minute video, that is the Jacob one remembered and repeated.  And he repeated it in front of his six year old brother, who might now have that same phrase stuck in his little mind.

Is the NFL lip reading video bad?  Mostly, no.  However Satan uses the thought "it's not that bad"in the mind of me the parent in order to get permission from me to plant that crap in my kids' heads.  It is easier to give in and let kids watch what other kids watch.  It makes me feel better when my kids are part of what other kids are part of.  But at what expense does this happen?  Sure, I came across the filth later in life, and all of my kids will come across it  at some point as well.  And what will matter then is the filter and the foundation I have built into their lives about what honors God, and what needs to be set aside to keep evil at a distance so Christ may come close to our hearts.

Whether they understand it, and whether they agree with me, is not something to be discussed.  Every second they sing Taylor Swift they are not singing Chris Tomlin.  And in that moment their heart is being swayed away from God to something else.  We might not like it, or they might not like it, and it might make the home a little more uncomfortable for a time as old habits are broken, but truth is truth whether anyone 'likes' it or not.


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