A Media Challenge! (part 1)

Donavan FriesenFeatured, Parenting6 Comments

“Dad, can we watch a clip?” came a 6 year old voice, spoken with as much enthusiasm and eye fluttering as possible, and sent on a mission by her three older siblings to suck me in. “Not today,” I replied. I was feeling strong today, you can’t suck me into the media game today kids. Some 20 minutes later, my son walked up to me and said, “Dad remember last week when you were talking about those animals that are really fast?”

“Cheetahs?” I questioned.

“Ya, that’s it! Dad I would like to learn more about them, do you have any books or…clips to help me learn more about them?”

“Oh ya, I saw this sweet clip the other day. Check this out…”

Sucker, these kids are good. They don’t need to be taught how to get what they want not to mention suck me in with them. For I too want to watch those adorable little cheetahs chasing down some sorry antelope bringing it to its knees! It’s not that I like death, but I am fascinated with how God made the world. I could probably watch videos of animals and nature every single day for many hours and never get bored. I love that kind of stuff. And we should, right? Be fascinated with creation? It helps us to fall in love with Jesus more, right?

Ah yes! Justification and over-spiritualization. I have pretty much practiced these two things to exhaustion. My heart is quick to justify feasting on things that are easy, entertaining, take no effort, relaxing etc. But is that the best thing to do? Is it a good use of my time? It’s not like I am looking at anything ‘bad’! But where do we draw the line? What’s the litmus test? HELP!

I have spent a significant amount of time wrestling with this; particularly how do we help our children navigate through this journey of overwhelming media? It’s not like my parents know. I happen to be part of the FIRST generation that has to cross through the journey of media and find healthy boundaries with it. The purpose of this blog is to open up a discussion among those of us who desperately want to honour God with all of our lives. It’s not people who are perfect, or have all of their junk figured out.

But rather those of us who aren’t certain;

not completely clear;

wondering;

not wanting to completely isolate our children;

nor wanting to fully indulge in all that the media world offers.

So this blog is the challenge to begin a conversation with others, or for those who have already started the talk – to carry it on. And over the next number of weeks I want to write more to help us talk.

But to get the conversation started, I want to propose the first thought. It’s something that I have been forced to evaluate and gauge in my life. I am by no means trying to preach, rather I want to explore this with you – and I would love feedback.  Perhaps not answers – but more questions.  Please understand that my quest is to find the Truth (Jesus) so He will set me free!

My hypothesis in regards to this topic goes something like this. “I believe that whatever the parents demonstrate and model, the children will most likely live.”  TRUE? Or FALSE?

If our goal is to have our children love the NFL – watch NFL.

If it is our desire to have our children love cooking – watch cooking.

If the goal is to help our children have a balanced, healthy media intake – parents ought to model that.

If we want our children to love Jesus – we need to love Jesus.

If we want our children to watch movies with their brains on and not just get sucked in – teach your family how – explore it together, talk about it, evaluate it.

If you want your children to NOT watch evil, demonic, or sexually explicit things – train them how to be wise in their decision making – don’t just say NO or YES!  Rather we need to explain it and train them.

The Bible says ‘train up a child in the way they should go, so when they are old they won’t turn from it’. Training means we need to walk with them, teach them, model to them, discuss with them. This generation has been given this task by God – what a joy! Let’s do this together!

My challenge is twofold.

Spend some time talking with Jesus about the goals that He has for you, and your children. Does your media consumption help you move there? Perhaps there needs to be some changes. Perhaps while you were reading this – you already knew what needed to change. 🙂

And second talk to other people in a similar stage in life to see what they are doing. What works and what doesn’t work. Just BE HONEST!!

6 Comments on “A Media Challenge! (part 1)”

  1. I struggle so often wondering what is ok and not ok for my children and me for that matter to watch. We have chosen not to have channels in our home or Netflix because my husband and I both feel we can minitor what is watched. We don’t have the need to see the next new episode ” we just “need” to see one more to see what happens. We both (my husband and I ) have very addictive personalities we know that if we have channels or Netflix, shutting the tv off would be very challenging and for us, next to impossible. We have tried before to do a complete media fast for a month, that was really hard in the beginning but we actually started to play games together, read books and spend more time with Jesus. I stress constantly about the future of my children and how I am raising them and how I can help them be better. My dad ( a non believer) often will poke fun and question our motives for not haveing star choice, bell or at the very least cable, he challenges us often on our choice to only have Internet access on our phones and very minimally at that. His opinion along with many others is that if we shelter our children from all of that then we just awaken their curiosity more, which makes them more likely to rebel and go hog wild. I struggle knowing how to handle that? My human side says yeah that’s true, and wouldn’t I want them to experience these topics at home with me, so that I can help them navigate their way through some hard topics like sex, drugs, parties, swearing, lust and many other topics tv seems to make light of. The question, does my child need to learn those things from tv? My Christian side says, GOD HELP cause my human side sounds pretty convincing. How do you find that balance between absolutely controlling and NO TV ever cause it’s just safest, to letting your kids watch whatever?? What to do? My main goal? Help my children to love Jesus more and more everyday. I struggle to show a healthy relationship with Jesus sometimes and I let them watch the same movies over and over again. Honestly I fail constantly and I feel like an absolute failure as a parent! I want to train them up the way they should go more than words can express! I think I need to remember that God loves my kids more than me and he wants them to be his more than I do. If I continue to remember that and try my hardest to obey what He asks me, He will help me in every area… Including television watching and internet use!

    1. Sarah, thank you for your insights. I agree with you. I believe this will continue to be the challenge that we face. What is the balance? I am not sure if I have any answers for you, but perhaps a couple of thoughts. As our children are growing up we don’t want to continue to be the one to say yes or no. We want them to desire to make these types of decisions. However, if they are never given the opportunity to try (with guidance) they will never make it. As my children have been getting older, they have proven their trust (at some level). We have tried to help them ‘know’ what the pitfalls are, the things that we are concerned about etc. We have tried to teach them how to choose ahead of time what a good movie would be. In the early years, I could manipulate them to like anything that I told them – just because Dad was awesome. But as they get older – things seem to be changing. Our likes and dislikes are becoming different. And in school there are a whole new set of movies that are ‘the best movies ever’. ‘Dad we NEED to see this movie’, becomes a new challenge. So how do we teach our children to be wise, to understand and desire watching what honors God? Be honest, communicate, listen to your kids (find out what is driving them and deal with the root issue – ie friends), talk to Jesus, and take some risks with your child. Failing and mistakes are not always bad – it is part of life, and we need to help our children know how to walk through this as well.

      And Sarah I want to conclude my response with what you said. Remember that Jesus loves your children more that you ever will and he is calling them, by his spirit, all the time! wanting desperately to be in a relationship with them. Have a great day!

  2. Appreciate the article and the premise that children will do as parents model! My wife invented T.G.O.D (The great out doors) with our kids whereby they first had to spend a 1/2 hr outside to get the same amount of time on the screen. This worked really well while we lived at home in Arborg; albeit we are trying to find new norms in a foreign country and living in an apartment.
    For a fun read please look up the short story, “When television ate my best friend.” Jaker

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