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August 15, 2011

Before Their Eyes

“Parents!  The work entrusted to us is holier than we know.  The precious instrument, so delicate, so wonderfully made, so marred by sin already, and so exposed to its power, is of such inconceivable worth.  To take charge on an immortal soul, to train a will for God and eternity, surely we ought to shrink from it.  But we cannot.  If we are parents, the duty is laid upon us. But, thank God!  Sufficient grace is prepared and promised too.  If we do but give up our home and our life to God for Him to come in and rule, He will Himself take possession, and by the gentle influence of His Holy Spirit bow their will to Himself.”
~Rev. Andrew Murray, The Children for Christ

We have been labeled a few things over the years of raising our children. One of them is that we are "too protective".  I am not offended when people say this...more I am saddened that they don't understand.

We have chosen to do/not to do a lot of things for the protection of our children over the years. Some things are not very popular, most things are not easy, but we haven't regretted the decisions we have made in this area.

One thing that we have been particularly careful over the years of raising children is what we are feeding them. I am not talking about physically, but in the area of entertainment.

Since our children started to read we have found it a real challenge to find good wholesome reading material or videos to watch for their age (elementary-teen). And I can say that as the years go on it gets harder and harder. I am honestly appalled when I walk into a Bible Book Store and see some of the reading material that is in the kids section. It doesn't take long to see how the Christian world is trying to keep up with the secular world in the area of entertainment. I would be ashamed (and honestly feel creepy) having some of those books in our home. How I think God weeps when He sees such garbage.

What we allow our kids eyes to see and mind to take in is NO SMALL MATTER. The ideas, beliefs and values that they get from entertainment will affect them for life. And so it has made us rethink many times what we should allow into our children's minds, hearts and into our house.

Even though children are born with a sin nature, they also come with an innocence. An innocence that sadly over time becomes less and less. Some of their innocence is lost by the harsh realities of life. But some of their innocence is crushed simply by what we, as parents, allow them to be exposed to. So many of the things that we say are part of our value system are just thrown away while watching a movie or reading a book. How sad.

So really the world of entertainment in our family is narrowed down to...well .....NOT MUCH!!!! There is just not that much good, Godly stuff out there that supports the values we have as a family. And we are not willing to compromise the values that we teach our children for the sake of entertainment.

For books we stick mostly to missionary biographies or character building stories for children. There are a lot of great biographies out there that highten our children's desire to live for God. I like to read our smaller children stories that reinforce the truths that we find in God's Word. Businesses that sell home schooling material have some great resources in this area.

We have chosen to stay away from most of the Disney type books and movies. We haven't found many that support the values that we try to live out as a family. We also find that many of the characters are literally idolized by children, and we choose to stay far away from that.

If a book does not have a good wholesome message behind it and doesn't encourage good behaviour....we will not read it. I have been in the middle of many a books in our days of raising our family, only to stop and throw it right in the garbage. The character in the book may have a bad attitude towards his/her parents, or use words that we do not use in our family, or treat siblings unfairly...why would I train my child it is not Godly to act this way and then have no problem reading it to them in a book? Is that not teaching my child a double standard?

There are some Christian organizations out there that do movie reviews. It didn't take me long to realize that one organization in particular was one I couldn't trust to review movies for our family! They say things like, "Such and such movie has a bit of violence, some crude or profane language and some very revealing ways of dressing.....so I will give it a 5 out of 10!" You have GOT to be kidding me! A 5 out of 10 for family friendly with all those things in it? Really.....what is wrong with this picture? With all of those things...I would give it a 0 out of 10....YES I said 0!!!!

So for videos for our children we mostly get ones that are educational. There are a lot of great videos about animals and the world around us (watch for the evolution though!) If you would like a list of our favourites you can send me an email and I will gladly tell you :)

Standing up in this area has not been easy. For one thing we find that as humans there is a constant desire to be entertained. And what's easier than just vegging in front of the TV, forgetting about the world around you for awhile and be entertained. I am not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but I do believe it becomes harmful to us when we put our morals and values on the shelf for the sake of entertainment. We may cringe when we hear those profane words, we may close our eyes when we see someone scantily dressed, we may choose not to laugh at the off color jokes....and then we call it all good? Why? Because we like to be entertained!

As a family we find we need to have a constant awareness of the dangers of the world of entertainment. Regretfully we have slipped many times and then we have went through our videos and promptly thrown the "undgodly" movies where they belong....in the garbage. Then we repent of our ways, and ask God to help us to be more careful in our choices. No movie is more important than our relationship with God....NONE!

What about ratings? With changing times, we find we cannot trust ratings anymore. There are many, many G movies that we will not watch. Just because it says "G" doesn't mean it's Godly!

So I say this to challenge all of us to watch what we put before our/our children's eyes. Is it worth being entertained for a couple of hours only to compromise our values? When we watch a movie, do we keep in mind the holiness of God and how He hates sin? How about the old cliche..."What would Jesus do?" Would He sit there and watch that movie with you? Or would He promptly walk out of the room? Does God weep over the things we allow our families to view? Do you view a movie through the eyes of God?

I  believe Satan has made an inroad into Christian hearts through entertainment, this generation like no other. Especially in kids movies....most of it is good, and then there are just a couple of "bad parts" thrown in there. And we tolerate it...because it's mostly good! That's foolishness.....it really is. I say we need to WAKE UP! We need to see it for what it really is. We need to stop compromising what we believe. We need to....for the sake of following our God 100%.....WE NEED TO!!

And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. Mark 9:42

I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. Psalm 103:3


The Munck Family said...

You hit some great points and I agree we must guard our Children's heart and minds. With seeking the Lord and prayer He will show us His way.

In guarding our Children's hearts and minds, we must also remember to do the same as adults. As you said to much TV or veg time can take away from our children /family that can even be from watching sports or Christian videos.

May our families keep their sights set on the Lord and shine for Him.
Great post!

Suki said...

Reading this post, a few questions occurred to me and I was hoping you might be willing to address them. Before I ask though, a quick disclaimer: I come from a very different background than you(geography, religion, family), and I hope that in asking these questions, I do not come across as disrespectful towards you or your beliefs, as that is in no way my intent.

My first question was whether your children enjoy reading (i.e. do it just for fun). I have to admit, when I was a child, I don't know how excited I would have been to read an autobiography or historical account :). Have you found that your children natually enjoy these sorts of books, or has it taken training on your part?

My second question concerns imagination and imaginative play. Is this something you encourage in your children? I know in the past you have written about the importance of not letting children become too interested in "me" time, and since imaginative play can sometimes be quite inwardly focused, I wondered what your stance was on this.


Mrs. Stam said...

I think you are doing a great thing for your family, protecting them is not a bad thing, no matter how the world sees it!

mommyx12 said...

Great post. The guarding of our children's hearts is what I believe to be foundational to their training. I think most folks don't quite get the meaning of guarding the hearts of our children. As Anne of Green Gables says, "Oh, how much they miss."

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the godly wisdom in this post. I am a fellow Canadian mom, with 4 little ones. We have really found that the Lord is convicting us in this area and it has been and continues to be very difficult to make the changes that we need too (we both grew up with T.V. and it's hard to move away from this form of entertainment, but we want the Lord's best for our family). I would sure appreciate if you could pass along the movie list you have compiled, and I was also wondering if you would you happen to have a book list as well? I really want my kids to have a love for reading, but it is difficult to find good children's books that promote the Psalm 103:3 criteria! I am sure finding a lot of inspiration from your blog and I continue to look forward to more challenging posts in the future :)

God bless you and your family, Merla

P.S. I was also wondering if you mind if I print off some of your blog articles to give to my hubby to read, he does much better with a hard-copy in his hands. If you would rather I didn't that's fine too (he doesn't have much time for computers)!

The Pauls' Family said...


Thank you so much for your questions. I didn't find them disrespectful at all :) I will try my best to answer them.

Most of our children love to read. They read the books faster than I can buy them. In fact with a lot of our children we have to monitor that they don't read "too" much!! With these children I have never had to "train" them to like these books. But you have to understand they know of nothing else. They don't have anything to compare these books to. And to them they are exciting.

But we also have a couple of kids that reading is just not their thing. They would rather make something with their hands. Would they read more if they would have other choices (fictional?) I'm not sure I can answer that, but I can tell you in my eyes it would be better for them not to read than to read books purely for entertainment.

And for your second question, do we encourage imaginative play? To be honest, this is something I have never really thought of. Our kids are in imaginative play many times throughout the day. And I can't say I have often found it to be individually focused. U it's with their other siblings, playing house, or farm, as construction workers, with puppets. Our children are rarely alone when they are playing these things. In fact, they find it way more fun to play with each other when they are imagining! The more the merrier!!!

When I talk about "me" time, I am talking more about children thinking they "need" space. ie...spending lots of time in their room alone, not letting anyone play with them...those are the kinds of attitudes we watch out for. I am not saying that our children never play alone....but when they do, it is not because they want "me" time. They are simply playing something that no one else is interested at the time. I hope that makes sense.

Let me know if I didn't adequately answer your questions :)

Blessings, Rosalie