This is not a post I am eager to write. However, the fleeting innocence of our children has weighed heavily on my heart for quite some time. And with so much going on nowadays, I felt the Lord’s compelling voice that this is the time. So grab your cup of coffee and come close. We need to talk.
Have you noticed that as a nation, our children are growing up too fast?
I don’t mean that time moves quickly; I have other posts about that. No, I mean that our children are maturing too quickly. They are learning about too much of the world too fast. They are exposed at young ages to things beyond their years. Friends, their innocence is in jeopardy. What was once playful and fun has become a cultural push to expose our children to mature language, issues and behavior. All one needs to do is turn on the tv or go to the movies.
I can’t tell you how often I read or hear about parents who are letting their little children watch movies with ratings intended for teenagers. Parents who don’t mind what is on the TV in the background of their family room because they don’t think their kids are paying attention. Even the commercials of sporting events parade the inappropriate before the eyes of our children. What are our kids taking in?
Just last week, I had to email my son’s teacher to say that my son was not allowed to watch a particular movie in school and that I would make arrangements to take him out of class. This movie portrayed drunkenness, immodest attire for a scene and swearing. Now, it didn’t end up being the movie watched, but it was one of three possibilities for his third grade class.
What I am about to say below is for all parents, but I am speaking specifically to my Christian brothers and sisters . . . to those of you who fall under the name of Christ, who want to follow biblical principles and raise godly children . . . to those who want to keep one eye on who their child is now and the other on what kind of individual they will become.
Friends, our children are being bombarded by content intended for those much older. Rude humor, immoral choices, and downright sin made to look normal and glamorous. I was at a marriage conference last weekend that said that married couples in the U.S. are now outnumbered by couples choosing to live together without the commitment of marriage. I am crushed. I am sickened for the world that our children will grow up in. A culture that makes light of the plans and beauty of what God created.
We are losing our children to the world. Christian families are losing their children to the world. It is up to us to provide a firm foundation of faith, morality and family values in a culture that says there are no absolutes, it is all about me and I can do whatever I want.
So what do we do as Christian parents?
We guard the innocence of our children. We ask for wisdom (James 1:5). We make educated choices. We open our eyes to the deceptive nature of our culture. We tune our ears to voice of the Holy Spirit. And then we . . .
Ask the questions about what your kids are watching on TV and in the movies. For example: What is the movie about? What are the questionable issues in the movie? Is there content for which my child is too young? Is the violence age-appropriate? Are there provocative scenes? Are women’s bodies treated disrespectfully or men regarded as stupid?
Do your due diligence in investigating a movie. Read the reviews. I love Common Sense Media and Plugged In. Common Sense Media applies ratings to different components of the movie. It tells you specifically what occurs under each category and even their recommendation for viewing age. I also like Plugged In which is Focus on the Family’s movie review site. If you want to quickly know what is going to happen in a movie, check out these sites.
Pictured Screenshot from Common Sense Media.
When possible, first preview the movie yourself. While this may be inconvenient at times (and I have definitely watched children’s movies alone for this solitary purpose), you can watch the film with your child’s age and maturity in mind. If this is not possible and reviews haven’t yet been posted (usually the day after the movie releases), seek out another parent who’s opinion you respect. When the live-action Cinderella movie came out, we wanted to see it right away. But I had heard that the death scenes were intense for young children and could stir feelings of insecurity. I called my cousin who had seen it the night before and asked for details. Knowing my child and equipped with information, I was able to make a sound decision and we went to see the film.
If you have decided that the movie is inappropriate for your child, explain the reasons to him or her. For that school movie last week, I specifically told my son what was disconcerting to me about the movie. And you know what? Once I plainly told him, he didn’t want to see the movie after all.
Last December, my son (my poor son) was invited with an older boy to go see Rogue One the week it released. Knowing how much he wanted to see this Star Wars movie, I so badly wanted to let him go. But as I poured over personal reviews from pre-screenings, I became convinced that he was too young to see the movie. Over and over, I was seeing that the recommended age was 10+ years old and that the violence was war-like and unrelentless. Some even compared it to Saving Private Ryan without the gore.
Well, he was crushed when I told him. But as I began to explain the reasons, he demonstrated a maturity and understanding. In fact, as this sort of thing has happened more than once now, my husband and I believe that he has fortified his trust in us, knowing what is best for him.
Of course, if even the subject matter is something of which your child is unaware, you don’t need to go into detail. In a recent situation, I told my daughter that the movie simply portrays something that does not please God and goes against the teachings of the Bible. I didn’t get more specific than that.
Now what do you tell your child when everyone else in their class has seen a movie and they haven’t? First, I acknowledge that it stinks. It totally does. It can feel so lonely. I remember when I was growing up, having to leave a neighbor’s house because they were watching a PG-13 movie and I wasn’t old enough. It stunk, but I respected my mom for making the call.
One way I have found for getting around this is to see if there is an option of reading the book (assuming the story line is not your issue). This is precisely what we did when The Force Awakens came out and we didn’t think my son was ready for the intensity and violence. I found an appropriate junior novel telling the story . . . and this way he knew what had happened and could keep up on the conversations at school. Then a year later, he got the movie for his birthday.
Having made the hard decision then, stand in knowing that you are choosing your child over your culture. His welfare over your popularity. Her growing character over a fleeting 120 minutes. This world is not our home. It will never be comfortable.
Standing for biblical truth is not popular, especially in today’s cultural climate. But do it anyway. Do what you decide is best for your child and rest in that.
And when you know your child is missing the movie or the activity, create a super fun replacement. When I told my daughter that we would not be seeing a particular movie at the theater (one to which she was greatly looking forward), she was heartbroken. But you better believe that we planned the best, most special and incredibly fun evening in its place.
Being vigilant for our children’s childhood and innocence is no easy task.
In fact, it is inconvenient. It is isolating. It means making the hard choices. At times, it will require you standing alone. And hardest of all, it will mean that sometimes your child stands alone.
So is it worth it?
Let me tell you, the rewards will be heavenly. You will raise children who have a moral compass lacking in our lost culture. You will raise children who have the discernment to know right and wrong. You will raise children who see your example of a life lived for Christ . . . the trials, sufferings and glory, and be able to say it was worth it.
I would love to know your thoughts on this and how you handle these kinds of situations. As always, be kind. We may choose to disagree, but we can still be respectful.
Want to Take it a Step Further?
- Read this post that I wrote on this topic for The Better Mom with other things you can do.
- Start a prayer group for your children and schools. Check out Moms In Prayer.
- Fight to save filtering. Read more on VidAngel’s battle and how you can help.
- Vote with your pocketbook. Don’t support films with which you take issue.
- Download the Movie Screening Checklist below.