The other day I shared a blog about Fifty Shades of Grey and kids. In it I shared a few anecdotal stories about some kids who were “accidentally” exposed to Fifty Shades through commercials, one on TV and one on YouTube. Both of these kids were with their parents and neither were watching distasteful things (well, unless you don’t like basketball games and cats that swim).
The rest of the blog went on to encourage parents to be vigilant, to be aware of the culture we are living in today and to be ready and prepared to engage with their kids with things like Fifty Shades erupt on the scene.
I was honestly saddened when, in one place the blog was shared, the conversation in the comments neither addressed the main point nor engaged the topic of the article, but rather focused on these two initial events. Some of the comments included statements like, “IMO, I don’t think you should ever watch commercials” and “We just make a point of never watching YouTube” and a variety of other ways that these two kids and others could be protected from the culture around them.
So…why does this make me sad?
Because, frankly, our children cannot be protected from the culture around them.
Because even if we create a perfect bubble of cultural protection and your kids never watch TV, use technology, shop at a grocery store, board a school bus, attend school, or speak with anyone who does any of those things, one day they will grow up and more than likely, they will experience all of that.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t establish standards for our own home and regulate what we allow into our family’s space. Our kids have had a lot of “things” they didn’t get to do or watch because of our parenting choices.
But, making the assumption that the protective practices that we’ve put in place are somehow going to shield our children from the reality of the culture that surrounds them is setting all of us up for a great big fall.
If the takeaway from my last blog post was, “Well, I just won’t let my kids watch commercials and then the problem is solved,” I’m sad to say that the whole point was missed.
Parents, YOU MUST ENGAGE!
You must be aware and you must be ready for the questions that inevitably one day will come. I don’t care if you are the most protective parent you know, ONE DAY, the questions will come. The culture will be there waiting at every turn and one day, it will break through. We need to parent from faith, not fear.
Fight for your kids.
Go on the offensive. Don’t hide from the reality that they will one day face. Rather, begin even now to equip them for the life they will lead. Give them tools of critical thinking in light of a Christian worldview.
Bring Jesus into the living room when the family watches a movie. Talk about what is God-pleasing and what is not. Use the Bible as the sword of truth and use it to speak into situations that make us cringe. (Here’s some resources to help you get started)
Disciple your children in what it is to be a follower of Christ in this world today. And sure, if you want to turn off the TV in your house during commercials or not watch YouTube videos as a rule, that’s fine. But don’t think for once that you’ve successfully averted the world that is crouching at your door.
Never assume you’ve covered all the bases unless you truly have, by being aware, being prepared and being vigilant.
Again, I’m not saying we have to like what’s out there and I’m not saying we have to engage with what’s out there, but I am saying we have to be aware of what’s out there and we have to be engaged with our children in an ongoing conversation about faith, Christ, and the world today. To do less than that is to leave the next generation at a serious disadvantage and easy pickings for “a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
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About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at ChildrensMinistryBlog.com, Seedbed, and D6 Family.