Have you ever found yourself in an awkward situation like this one?
My family was at the home of some friends visiting with a few families from our church. After dinner, our friends’ children asked their dad if they could watch a movie. He agreed and told them to pick out a DVD. The video they selected, “The Transformers,” was rated PG-13.
When I learned about their movie choice, I was faced with a dilemma. Should I “go with the flow” and let my then 9-year-old daughters view this flick? Or should I uphold our family’s rule against PG-13 movies?
I knew what had to be done.
I went downstairs to a family room filled with kids waiting for the video to begin and respectfully told my friend, “I’m sorry, but my girls won’t be able to watch this movie. They can just play in the other room while the other kids watch.” Thankfully my friend understood and even asked his son to choose a different movie. The kids ended up watching a G-rated film I knew wasn’t objectionable.
I might’ve come off as Mr. Wet Blanket to the kids that night. But more important than the approval of my girls’ friends is my daughters’ moral and spiritual development.
That should be true for all Christian parents.
If our kids are to grow into the people God made them to be, we should value our children’s growth in biblical worldview, faith and character over what’s popular in culture.
Of course, protecting our children from harmful content (the “garbage-in, garbage-out” principle) is only part of a parent’s job. But it’s still a vital responsibility.
We need to limit our children’s exposure to messages, images, values and attitudes that contradict biblical truth. We can’t and shouldn’t raise our kids in a bubble, and we should train them to discern right from wrong and to reject wrong on their own.
But along the way we have to filter out the good from the bad for them, too, while they’re young, vulnerable and unprepared to do this consistently on their own.
If we don’t protect our children’s hearts and minds, who will?
So, how can we vigilantly safeguard our kids when it’s easier to just go along with the crowd – especially when “the crowd” is our Christian peers? These three guidelines have helped me immensely:
1. Pray in the moment – and before those moments. Regularly ask God to equip you with the courage to look out for your kids’ welfare. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength (Philippians 4:3), including speaking up in situations like the one I described earlier.
2. Take ownership of your role as your children’s defender. Your friends aren’t responsible for how your kids turn out. Neither is your church or your children’s teachers, ministry mentors or coaches. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says you are. Don’t shrink from it; take pride in it. My kids’ Christian development matters to me. I want to do what it takes to instill lasting biblical faith in them. This mindset fuels my desire to protect them from negative influences.
3. Picture what you want your children to be like as adults. I believe God wants my girls to grow into Proverbs 31 women. Will watching a movie containing graphic violence, dozens of profanities and vulgarities and sexualized dialogue, clothing and situations help or hinder this goal? Seeing the big picture makes these decisions more clear-cut.