Movies: Choosing Wisely and Raising Kids Who Will Too
- Thursday, October 01, 2009
When it comes to movies, my husband Tripp and I are very protective of our children - though it sometimes feels like we're alone in this endeavor. After decades of hearing, "But all my friends are seeing it. . . " sometimes I grow weary.
But as a mom whose raised two generations of teens (12 kids 9-40), I have a different perspective. And I know that while many parents think PG-13 means a movie is okay, the envelope has been pushed for so many years that PG-13 in many cases might as well mean Pure Garbage-13.
Today our job as parents is more complicated than just guarding kids from graphic sex. We really need to research each movie our kids want to see to determine if the themes and humor are something that we want to become part of their personal baggage.
If we want our children to be pure, we need to focus not only on the body, but on the mind and spirit. Do we really want their perspective on love and relationships corrupted by coarse jokes and sick humor? Or will we stand against the culture and do the job God has called us to do - to raise children whose minds aren't so corrupted by "entertainment" that there is little room for God, leaving Him just a little compartment, making Him irrelevant to the choices they make.
This came up for me a couple months ago when Maddy wanted to see The Proposal with friends. That's right - The Proposal with Sandra Bullock. PG-13. Miss All-American Sweetheart. What could be objectionable about that? And, as Maddy reminded me when I said, "Let's check it out first," she's 16 and next year she'll even be able to see R-rated movies.
First let me make clear that I do not let the MPAA do my thinking for me. Not only would I not want my kids to see most PG-13 movies, but there are some R-rated movies Tripp and I regard as family treasures - like The Mission, Glory
So yes, this parenting thing - if you want to do it well - requires a little extra. Because Maddy is right - next year she will be 17. And even when she is 16, I don't want to forcefully impose my will on hers - which could make her prone to rebel. I want instead for her to understand how and why I have made decisions about movies before - and how and why she might want to begin making them herself now.
What I am suggesting here is something that's a hard transition for many loving and righteous Christian parents to make: at some point before our children leave home, we must begin to pass the responsibility for decision making in this area - and in many others - on to them. While we must be there to guide them, we must begin to treat them like fledgling adults, responsible for their own decisions and their own relationship with God. We must allow them to make mistakes.
It's a more nuanced approach than "While you're under our roof, you will do things our way - when you move out you can do what you want." When it comes to some issues - drugs, alcohol, destructive relationships - you can create strict boundaries. But issues like what movies to see are an area where we are not doing our teens any favors by making arbitrary decisions. They need to see how our decision-making process works in order to respect it.
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