• the post in which I alienate most of my readers

    Date: 2011.02.22 | Category: faith, parenting | Tags: ,,,,,

    I’m not big on t.v.  That doesn’t come as a surprise to those of you who know me in real life, but for those of you who don’t know me, there it is.  I’d much rather read a book or work on something crafty or play with my kids than watch a movie or t.v. show.  So it’s no surprise that I haven’t allowed my kids to watch much t.v. either.  Sure, my two year old can navigate my iPhone, has his own list of favorites both on youtube and on netflix, and can tell me the title of which episode of Blue’s Clues he’d like to watch, but really, he doesn’t see much t.v. either.

    As a special treat the other day we headed “down basement” to watch a few shows on netflix.  JT requested Dora- a show that apparently he’s watched with daddy (who does not share my distaste for t.v.!) and I obliged.  After 10 minutes I texted Chris- “This Dora is painful.  Literally hurting me.” and “Boots is whiny and Dora is bossy.  I hate this show.”  Not even to mention Swiper whose only role on the show is to steal things and hide them, as far as I could tell.  Needless to say, when the episode ended I switched us back to our friends Steve and Blue.  When Chris got home from work that afternoon he said to me “So, no more Dora for JT, huh?  It’s been kicked off the approved list?”  Now to tell the truth, I hadn’t really thought about it, other than I didn’t want to have to watch it.  But as I paused I realized something.  Why in the world would I allow my two year old watch a show whose main characters display behaviors that I don’t want him to emulate?  So yes, it got kicked off the approved list.

    This got me thinking about a conversation that happened years ago when my sister’s boys were young.  My boss at the time mentioned a movie that he let his very young children watch and commented about how my nephews (who were several years older) must also like it.  I replied that they had never seen it.  He was shocked!  How could my sister deprive her kids of this popular form of entertainment?  I told him how very little t.v. her boys watch and that it would be too scary for them.  I could have been speaking a foreign language from the look he gave me.  Too scary?  What in the world?  It also reminds me of countless times during the Super Bowl or other televised sporting events when my nephews would literally look away and distract themselves during all of the commercial breaks.  My sister allowed them to watch the sport, but trained them to turn away from the images of alcohol use, violent movies, and scantily clad women.  Not a perfect system, but one that worked!  In any case, the majority of their t.v. viewing was with video tapes- pre-approved by mom and with no surprises.

    Now here’s where I’m sure I’m going to alienate 90% of you.  I won’t let my kids watch Disney movies.  Not now and probably not for a very long time.  Every single Disney movie that I can think of has a major component of good versus evil.  A mean/bad/scary/evil/cruel character.  Usually there are several lesser mean/bad/scary/evil/cruel characters too.  Now it’s true- good does tend to triumph over evil in the world of Walt Disney (notice I said good and not God).  And some day- perhaps when my kids are in college- I’ll let them watch all the Disney movies they want.  In the meantime, why in the world would I introduce such concepts to my toddler as a form of entertainment?  Isn’t there plenty of time for him to learn about cruel bullies and mocking laughter?  Wouldn’t he be happier not knowing about wicked witches and evil step mothers?  How about if I put off telling him about people who kill dogs for their fur coats for a few years?

    I know that I can’t shelter him forever.  And I don’t plan to, actually.  We already read stories about David and Goliath, Noah and the flood, Queen Esther who saved her people from death.  The point isn’t that I’m pretending evil doesn’t exist.  The point is that I want to teach him first about God’s perfect power.  That God ALWAYS triumphs over evil.  That God’s people are under God’s protection and need not fear the evil one.  This is about choosing to fill his growing mind with the Good News, hope and love rather than crass humor, that morality is subjective, and that the means justify the end.

    Will my kid be one of the few at school who has never seen Sponge Bob Squarepants?  Who doesn’t know the Cinderella from Belle?  Probably.  Will he be one of the kids at school who knows the power of Jesus and the Way the Truth and the Life?  I hope so.