I had lunch with a friend the other day and was telling her how much the kids and I enjoyed the audio story Jessica’s Journey. She furrowed her eyebrows at me and said, “You really let your kids listen to that?”
For a second I had to think about what would make her say something like that. A thought finally came to mind and I questioned her to confirm. “Is your concern over the drunk mother in the story?” She nodded and my heart sank. You see the story is about a young girl beaten and abused by her drunk mother. In the story this precious little girl comes to know Jesus and her faith rocks the whole community.
Since you read this blog, you probably already know that I’m not one to stay quiet when I know something must be said. That day was no different. I told my friend that I knew of the content before listening to it and that, yes, I let the kids listen. Actually, I very much wanted them to. You see, if there is anything in life I’ve learned, it’s that we have just a short time to teach our kids to grasp real faith in God. We have just a few years to help them navigate this faith in a wretched and wicked world.
There is a lot of very ugly content out there in books, movies, tv, even homeschool curriculum (yes, I said that). We do need to be very careful about what we bring into our homes, as this is our primary responsibility as the parent. However, we can’t censor it all. If we do, our kids will never know what to do with the world. They will leave our homes with little or maybe even no faith at all.
So what do we, as Christian moms, do with questionable content? Trust me, there is a reasonable answer to that question. One that will make you feel at ease over this, so do read on my friend. We’ve got some options here.
Option #1: Don’t read or watch this content.
Not rocket science, huh? Sometimes there is material out there we simply don’t ever want to put into the minds of our children. I’ve had homeschool curriculum in this category (such as a very popular history curriculum written from a totally pagan world view). I’ve also had books, movies, and other media we completely skip (like say Cars 2 and it’s “sexy” James Bond theme).
Generally speaking, if there is no redeemable quality or purpose in the material, I’m not likely to share it with my kids.
It’s true, there are times when censorship is the best option. However, all too often, this is the ONLY option we pick. We believe we are doing the right thing, but in turn we are hurting our kids. Sometimes the material has great value and life lessons we truly don’t want our kids to miss. So, what can we do with it?
Option #2: Skip a part or take a black marker and remove it.
I have a dear friend back in North Carolina who was awesome at this. I can’t tell you how often I opened books in her house and found a black marker through the part that said evolution was true or where someone used ugly language. Personally, I think this is a great option for younger children. We don’t want false information or harmful facts to be filling their heads until they are old enough to discern truth. That’s why we skip the scary part in Finding Nemo in my house. (Ya know, because this mama likes to sleep at night.)
This is also the reason I didn’t allow my young children to watch tv shows with a moral intention. Even if it was Christian. I saw the plot spending 25 minutes on the awful things (like talking back, hurting others, lying, etc.) and just 2 minutes fixing it, if that. Young kids don’t need any practice talking back or being ugly to others. This model just didn’t cut it for me. So we stuck with totally amoral shows like Little Einsteins, Wonderpets, and science. Since we didn’t watch much tv, this wasn’t really that hard.
Option #3: Make it a teachable moment.
As your kids get older and into the moral reasoning stage (around 7 or so) you are missing valuable teaching opportunities if you are still censoring and/or marking everything out. Take for example the books teaching evolution as fact. If we continue to blot it out, our kids will never learn how to defend their faith, and guess what happens? Someone else will show them why evolution is true. If we didn’t take the time to show them how it’s not true and what evidence supports that, it’s possible they may even believe we lied to them. (If you don’t know how often this happens, please read Already Gone.)
Trust me, as a parent, I’d rather crawl in a hole than deal with some of the stuff we see or hear. Especially when it comes to racial slurs, ugly words, and same-sex marriage (or just sex in general). These are hard topics. But avoiding them is never the answer. If we teach our children the history behind the depravity of man, they can begin to understand our need for a Savior. They can also begin to understand the freedoms we have in this country and why they are so important.
If we teach them how to evaluate the ugly topics in the light of the Word, we’ve given them a tool that will carry them through any doubts they face.
I’m not suggesting we throw all caution to the wind and simply put anything before our eyes. Clearly the Bible teaches against that. First in Psalm 101:3 and then in Philippians 4:8. We must be wise about what is before our eyes and in our mind. But we are also commanded to teach and disciple our children and sometimes media can be a safe way to do this. I mean, we don’t want to take our kids into a bar in an effort to show them the effects of drinking do we?
I kid. But you get the idea. Which brings me back to Jessica’s Journey. Will I let my kids listen to it? Over and over again. Because you see, in the story, the picture of this drunken and abusive mother is ever so clear. The consequences are accurate and the drinking is never exonerated. The mother hurts everyone around her with this behavior and the lesson is SUPER clear… even to little people.
In fact, as we always do, I asked my kids what they learned from the story when it was over. My 8-year-old said, “Drinking doesn’t solve your problems. God does.” Wow. Yes and amen. Need I say more?
Leave a comment and tell us where you struggle when it comes to this issue. You’ll be surprised how many people are right there with you!
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Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.