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The TV Controversy


Okay, here goes . . .

TV has long been a very important issue in my life. When I was about 10 or 11, my parents got rid of our TV, and we went years without it. When I tell most people that, they gasp! "What did you do all the time?" they ask. We lived life, that's what we did!

Now that I'm a mom, although we have a TV, I place very strict limits on what my kids can watch and for how long. They have a limit of 1 hour per day, and a very short list of approved shows. Some days they may not be given permission to even use that hour. It's not a right, it's a privilege.

We gave up the Disney Channel and other similar networks, not because they were bad, and it took me a little while to decide what they were. Worldly. That's not a word I hear much, but let me try to put into words what it meant for me.

I've had many friends of mine ask why, for instance, my girls are not allowed to watch Hannah Montana. It seems fairly innocent, right? Just kids being kids. They dress okay, don't use foul language, etc. But is that all that's necessary to make it fine? Are you content with fine? Here's the criteria I used to determine that this show, and others like it, were not acceptable for our family: disrespect for parents, and all authority in general; preoccupation with self; over-dramatization of unimportant things (I know, I know: it's a sitcom); young kids dressing (and looking) like grown women.

I've written before what I want for my kids, and in order to accomplish that, I want their focus, even as children, to be on what is found in Philippians 4: "whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." Now, I realize kids will be kids, but even children can be trained to focus their thoughts on what is good.

When you focus primarily on these things, you become more sensitive to what's not good. I learned this many years ago with billboards. During my college years and the first year of my marriage, I lived in Dallas. It's a big city with lots of billboards. In certain areas of the city there is a high concentration of billboards advertising "adult entertainment" complete with photos. I drove past those billboards every single day on my way to work. Several years later, I moved about an hour north of Dallas. My trips into the city became fewer and fewer and eventually were very rare. After some time, I drove back into one of those certain parts of the city, and the same billboards were a real shock to my senses. Why? After seeing them daily for many years, I had become desensitized. With a long break from such visuals, I was again sensitive to them.

It's the same way with television, music, books, and any other form of entertainment. They may seem harmless, but are they actually good?

Back to Hannah Montana. We had never watched the show, so we tried it out for awhile. After all, it came highly recommended as a family-friendly show. But my spirit was sensitive to some of its content, and I didn't want it to be de-sensitized. So, after a short time, I nixed it. I haven't been sorry, and my girls haven't missed out. In fact, they haven't even asked about it.

The same goes for movies, at home or away. My kids know that they need to check with me when someone offers to "watch a movie." Nine times out of ten, I'm going to say NO. I don't go strictly by the ratings system. And if I'm in doubt, the answer is NO. It has caused an occasional problem with other parents. However, I don't give in to "peer pressure," even from other parents. My husband and I feel led in this direction and it's important enough to stand firm.

Susan and Michael Card, in their book, Home School Journey, put it like this:

"Like etching a design on glass, these visual images etch themselves deeply into our minds. We can never be too careful with protecting our children from what their eyes see or what their ears hear. Striving to protect their innocence, does not, as some suggest, keep them culturally illiterate. Instead, it is the wisdom of knowing how much they can really handle and how soon. Our purpose in protecting them is to prepare them adequately to face the hard issues that lie ahead. The Lord equips us with armor (Ephesians 6:11) to endure trials and tribulations. By keeping a clear image of what is good and right, and by us training them to listen for the Shepherd's voice, our children will be better prepared to face the battles in the long life that awaits them."

As my husband says, "You can't UN-see things, no matter how much you want to."

We do have a TV, and there is a limited list of shows (all old ones) that the kids may watch. Right next to the TV I have a scripture posted:

I will set no wicked thing before my eyes. Psalm 101:3

Next time you're watching TV, ask yourself if the content of the show is something you want to meditate on. Is it truly good? Is it pure? Lovely? Of good report?

"If there is any virtue, if there is anything praiseworthy, think on these things." Philippians 4:8

Read more thoughts on raising children here or take a peek into American History here. Have you visited my other blog, Prairie Sense?

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