Nothing. That is the answer. Those two things should have absolutely nothing in common at all.
But sadly, in reality, they do.
Because the other day, my friend was watching a basketball game with her 7 yr. old son and he repeatedly asked her, “Mom, what’s dominant?” because a certain commercial was shown on nearly every single break.
Because my 9 yr. old daughter was watching funny cat videos with me on facebook and what pops up but the sound of a moaning woman and a picture of handcuffs and a confused look of fear mixed with intrigue crossed her face and said, “What’s that?”
Because our obsession with this movie, those for it and those against it, is not relegated to areas of adult conversation and safe zones for kids. It is spilling out into their worlds and introducing them to things far beyond the grasp of their immature minds and forcing them to deal with conflicting feelings and questions at far too young an age.
And that makes me mad. Probably makes you mad too if you are reading my blog and interested in things like discipleship at home and faith formation.
But it also makes me determined.
Because frankly, no matter how against 50 Shades I am, no matter how many blogs get written about it and Facebook statuses get shared about it and how indignant people feel about it, whether a feminist or a Christian or just a concerned citizen, the reality is that it is there.. it is releasing on Saturday… and there is absolutely nothing that will change that.
So what are we to do as ministers and parents raising our children in this reality?
We fight back. We arm ourselves with well-thought out and prayerful answers. We don’t expect that they won’t see it or encounter it, rather we anticipate that they will and we go on the offensive. We magnify God with our answers, not sin. We glorify our Creator, not the sinful actions of the created. And we do not let the world form “reality” for our kids; we take charge and we meet it head on.
And while Christian Grey and 50 Shades are the “thing” right now, there will always be another thing to take its place. So, be on guard, be vigilant, be prepared, be involved. Know what is going on in the world your kids are growing up in, even if you hate it, and even if you wish it wasn’t like that. Because reality is going to hit them smack in the face when and where you least expect it and you are the only thing that stands between them and the message they are receiving from TV, movies, videos, games, friends, and culture. You are the single most important influence on your kid’s life and worldview, so get ready to fight for them with all you’ve got!
I’m not one to just leave people hanging. Here are some great resources for you to use while you arm yourselves for the fight of your and their life. But ultimately, it will come down to you, seeking God, modeling a godly life of service and grace, and being involved with your kids intentionally and with purpose.
- For answering tough questions, check out “Trust us, They’ll Ask” from Group Publishing. This book gives answers to some of the hardest questions your kids will ask from a biblical perspective and appropriate to the ages of preschoolers, elementary, and middle school+.
- For the latest trending videos, music, Facebook topics, styles, gossip, etc, check out www.mashable.com . Look, I’m telling you up front – you probably won’t like what you see. It’s not about that. It’s about staying informed and involved and being ahead of the game before the inevitable eventually happens.
Ideas on how to handle the current 50 Shades issue?
- For preschoolers, re-direct by saying something like, “Hmm, that sounds/looks sad doesn’t it? Mommy and Daddy aren’t sad when we love each other. We love each other with the love of Jesus. His love is the best love of all! How do you know Jesus loves you?”
- For elementary kids, be honest without being revealing. For instance, you might say, “That a movie that is coming out right now. A lot of adults really don’t like it because it has some sad stuff in it. We can talk about that more when you’re older but for now just know, whatever you see there isn’t really true or good; it’s just a movie. What is real and good is Jesus and the love He has given us and our family. Does that help?” Often that will be enough to reset the conversation. If they continue to press, reiterate that it is something from a movie and it’s not real; that God and you are real and that’s just a made up story.
- For middle schoolers and high schoolers who more than likely have heard about more than you might realize at school or from friends, before you dive into the conversation, begin by asking them what they already know about it. For instance, you may say, “Hmm, I’m glad you brought that up. What do you think? What have you heard about it?” Take cues from them about how much they already think they know, and answer appropriately with honesty and grace. Pray a lot friends and I do believe God will give you wisdom in the moment.
Most of all, I encourage you to take this moment in time and use it to bolster your own faith and your commitment to raising your kids in the faith. It will take effort, tears, time, and prayer. It is not an easy task, but it is a task to which we are called and therefore, we are equipped to do by the grace and power of Christ. “No weapon formed against us shall prosper” not even the weapons of lust, fear, and Christian Grey. Stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong (1 Cor. 16:13)
NOTE FROM AUTHOR
After reading some of the comments following the initial posting of this blog on facebook, I’ve written a follow up post that you can read here. Blessings, Christina
If you are interested in more ideas for Practical Discipleship at Home or transitioning to a family-focused ministry at church, check out ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page for even more resources.
I was disappointed that your list stopped with middle school aged kids. Perhaps that’s all the older your children are?
I believe for teenagers the conversation becomes even more deep and intense. They are the ones who are going to sneak into theaters and watch this horrific bedroom behavior and think that because it’s shown onscreen, it’s permissible. Please don’t forget to talk to your teenagers.
They need to hear about love, respect, cherishing each other, and how this movie really doesn’t promote any of that between a man and a woman.
Thank you for sharing your heart!
Hi Rachel, I actually intended that final statement to apply to middle schoolers and above. I think the advice remains relevant for both if those age groups. I agree that we should be in ongoing conversations with out tweens and teens about all the issues in culture, not just this one. My heart in writing this was less to address the specifics of 50 Shades and more to encourage parents to get intimately involved in all areas of culture with their kids! Thanks for being one that does!!!