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Don't Let Media Steal Your Children

You wouldn't allow a stranger into your house to lecture your children on values that you completely disapprove of. If a stranger knocked on your door, you would investigate long and hard before welcoming them in.

And yet we let media into our homes often without thinking twice.

Yesterday I wrote about how to raise kids who are determined to wait to date until they're ready to marry. A large part of that, I believe, is setting the right culture in your home. Don't allow media in that violate that perspective.

The best thing we ever did as a family, the thing that has had the most impact on who my children are today, was getting rid of cable fifteen years ago. In university I watched television constantly. Before the babies came, I watched television all the time. Then one day I chucked it. I just stopped. We canceled cable, saved a ton of money, and our family culture is completely different. It doesn't revolve around TV shows. They don't see stuff I disagree with. And they find other things to do.

Media, as a whole, completely goes against everything that we believe in. How often is there a TV show that is wholesome, that teaches something good? How often is there a show that actually promotes family, and marriage, and relationships, and doesn't push inappropriate relationships, or unrealistic body types? Hardly ever happens.

And before you start telling me about the exceptions, don't worry. I know what they are. But here's the cool thing: they're all available on DVD anyway. So we watch the TV shows we want to watch, but we watch them when they come out with a boxed set, and we can watch them all at once. We don't miss important things; we just choose which to watch. And even if TV has some good stuff, I don't want to get all the bad that goes with it.

I grew up with media, and as a teen, I was obsessed with dating. I wanted a boyfriend so badly. I would rejoice whenever Love Boat had young stars that week, because it would feature a teenage romance! Everything for me revolved around whether or not I could find someone to kiss me.

My girls are not like I was whatsoever. It's not that they aren't interested in relationships; they are. It's just that they're focused on marriage, and they're not obsessed with anything right now. And I think the biggest difference is that we're picky about what media they consume.

Photo by Herwings

We also watch what music they listen to, but the neat thing is that we haven't had to push it hard. I've never had an issue with either of them. They love certain Christian bands, or other singers, like Taylor Swift, whose songs tend to be clean and promote marriage, or at least disparage unhealthy relationships. I'm all for that. 95% of what they listen to is contemporary Christian, and I didn't have to push this at all. I simply started buying them CDs when they were around 9 or 10 of the worship songs we sang at church, and graduated to some of the songs they liked on the Christian radio station, and bingo! Now they buy their own music, but it's stuff I approve of.

If you want to read my own daughter's take on this, here's a blog post she wrote about her struggle with music choices.

Today we do watch a whole range of movies with the girls, but we think about it first. At one point we wouldn't allow any sexual content or innuendo, but now we do on occasion, because they're old enough to get it. For instance, we watched the movie Family Man, which has an excellent moral, recently. And I love the minor role of the angel in that movie. But it has a scene between the husband and wife that I'd rather wasn't there. But it wasn't that bad because it was between a husband and wife. It wasn't glorifying sex in a bad context; it was actually portraying reality quite well, without being graphic or showing nudity or anything. So I'm okay with that. A movie like the Notebook, though, as good as it is, I wouldn't show them because the couple isn't married yet, and it's designed to be exciting. Not appropriate for kids. So it's not like I don't let them see anything; we're just picky.

Many people may look at my family and think, "but that's impossible. You can't raise kids that way." Sure you can. If you start from a young age, there's no reason to believe that the children won't grow up with your values, rather than with the media's values. We do not need to be hooked up to television or inappropriate music all the time.

But it has to start with you. Watch what movies you watch with your husband. Watch what movies you watch with your kids. Make sure that your lives don't revolve around media, but revolve around other things. And then, as your kids grow, you'll find that their values reflect yours more and more.

Media is just plain evil in so many ways today. Hollywood preaches something totally antithetical and dangerous to the family, to kids' self-esteem, to our souls. Why would you let it in? Every family has to find its own balance, but let me tell you that of the kids I know, the ones who are the emotionally healthiest and the most turned on to God are those who don't watch very much TV. There's a distinct correlation.

If we're going to raise kids to love God, we have to be deliberate about it. We can't assume it's just going to happen. So seriously consider getting rid of cable. Monitor your kids' music choices. Play Monopoly instead of watching movies. And you'll find a big change in your children's attitudes.

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At 10:05 AM , Blogger Mrs.C said…

We are "soul" sisters on several matters, I believe.

We haven't had cable at all, our entire married life.

Whenever at a hotel with the 2 million channels now available to cable viewers, we quickly thank God that He has kept our resolve strong to keep the mindless babble and filth out.

My father removed the tv from our home when we were kids, for a few short years, being tv free was AWESOME! We made more family memories during that season of life, had more time for others and life was GOOD! I am always thankful for his desire to protect his family and also my husband's desire to protect us.


At 10:27 AM , Blogger Renee said…

It's amazing how your perspective changes when you don't watch TV for a while. Our pre-marital counselling advised against having a TV for the first year of marriage. I've always had trouble controlling my watching habits, so when the year was over, my husband agreed to keep our home "TV-less". Now when I see TV shows, I am amazed at the garbage people watch. Even shows I used to watch have more "junk" in them than I remembered.

We still watch movies/TV shows on DVD, but it's so much easier to control. Plus in our house, you usually have to fold laundry while watching something. :-)

I also think that media contributed alot to my "boy-crazy-ness" as a teen, so we have pretty high standards, too. Now that the girls are older, we allow some stuff that isn't ideal, especially at parties, but they still check in with us, or check plugged-in.
Then we talk about it afterward - that's usually the deal if the review isn't ideal: "If you want to watch it, then you have to tell me afterward about what in it wasn't appropriate." (eg. dating too young, some bad words, etc.)


At 3:53 PM , Anonymous DR M said…

What my husband and I particularly dislike is how parents are portrayed on TV, especially kid's shows and sitcoms. The kids are always fresh and mouthy; their parents complete dolts and clueless. We haven't given up on TV, but do fiercely monitor what we watch. History and Discovery channels, Animal Planet, Biographies and other programming (for us) outweigh all of the negative programming. But I completely agree with your post, Sheila - there is too much of what we don't want to see on TV! Thank goodness for channel blocking - love those parental controls! Thanks for another excellent commentary.


At 10:01 PM , Anonymous Kristen G said…

We cancelled our satellite this summer, and don't really miss it. The kids are watching videos during "TV time" (while I make supper) or they do something else.
I will waste an entire evening watching junk on TV if it's there, but I'm surprised how little I miss it now that it's gone.


At 1:11 AM , Blogger Herding Grasshoppers said…

Oh, perfect timing Sheila! (I was just posting about our boys smashing our last TV.)

I'm content to go watch chosen movies/shows at the grandparents, and make it a special family event once in awhile, rather than a steady diet.


We've never had cable either. It's amazing how easily it is to be desensitized to the "quality" of the programming when you're around it all the time, and what a shock it is to see it when you're not.

Stay strong! Your girls will rise up and call you blessed.


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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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