Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rethinking Standards for Acceptability

There is something that has been weighing on my mind for a while now - and subconsciously I suppose I have been responding to the urge to make a change. As my children have grown, I've become increasingly aware of the objectionable content we are unwittingly, and sometimes un-willingly, exposed to, and the refrain has been:

If I protect my children from these images and ideas, how good are they for my own soul, development and moral compass?

Because of a changing value system, first I cut out most TV; then I started watching documentaries and educational videos for movie-based entertainment, instead of the latest Box-Office hit. Even the old songs I used to love have taken a turn for the worse, as I have begun to listen more closely to the words and kept my kids in mind.

There are many good patriotic and upbeat country songs out there. While listening to the radio the other day, I noticed my boys singing happily along to a song telling young ladies to "shake it to left/ shake it to the right/ come on, baby, you know what I like..." It was the unfortunate end to Country music radio in the house.

I'm not as prudish as I sound (though far more so than others are, I suppose) - if a song has innuendo, but is written by someone who is married and (ostensibly) the song is sung with the singer's wife in mind, I'm okay with that. Even the Bible has the Song of Solomon. But even Jeff has stopped listening to the 80s songs he used to that talk about wanting to be with someone other than the guy's wife (Run to You, anyone?) I DO still watch or listen to some things that my children are not developmentally ready to process yet (some war-based movies, for example,) but it really does have me taking my standards to a higher level.

I've kept a close eye on what my children watch and are exposed to, whether via screen or simply in the print ads we see as we walk around stores and malls. I've tried to keep them engaged in a running dialogue about what they see and their opinions and impressions of those ads and magazines. We have talked about the intent behind those images as well.

In the process, I've cut back on the range of shows I watch even further. I watch inspiring shows like Heavy; shows that might give me ideas on how to better manage my life with five children, like 17 Kids and Counting; documentaries and biographical shows.... I still have a few of my kitschy faves: Doctor Who will stay with me for a long time, I think and I am looking forward to maybe another Bones one day. But not too long ago, I tried watching the Doctor Who spin off, Torchwood, and the ideas presented were not ones that I would be comfortable watching with my children alongside, and some of those same ideas and images have begun to make me uncomfortable as well. 

This even goes to shows like The Lion King. A few weeks ago, Maestro's scout patrol went to see Lion King in 3D. It was the same old show I had seen when it first came out, but this time, I noticed more details in the overall message, more message in the imagery. The messages I saw were not as harmless as I thought when I was a child - indeed, I didn't even notice those messages when I was younger. It's amazing how having someone else's best interests in mind changes one's own ideas.

The argument has been made that I am an adult and so should watch whatever I want to,
but how is it that something can be so bad for my children and yet uplifting and edifying for me as an adult? 

What things pass your standards for acceptability?

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  1. I stopped listening to country music when a song came on that sounded like a country singer trying to rap. I changed the station so fast I bruised my finger. I can't think of anything I detest more than rap. I can't avoid it, especially at the gym or when someone five blocks away is playing it on their car radio. I think it's ignorant noise and I don't care how un-PC that opinion is.

    Most movies and kids shows have messages. "Bones" is dripping with ads for their causes, and outright insults to Christianity (but Voodoo, Islam, and Wicca are referred to in complimentary terms such as "embrace," "revere," etc). And the FBI character never gets to give a good response to her Christian-bashing, he just says something lame that a ten year old could come up with.

    One thing you *could* do is point out the indoctrination messages to your kids, and offer them the counterpoint of it. That way they'll learn to recognize the brainwashing (critical thinking!), and think of the opposite POV. That would be a good way to arm them.

  2. The kids and I have gotten into many good discussions on what messages are being put across through various media. I suppose a big part of it too is that I don't want to have to sit through the not-so-great shows. Bones at least *has* a Christian character, but you're right, it is not as Christian-friendly as it could be. I suppose they have to cater to a wider audience as well as any of them.

    Rap music is (largely) WAY off of my list. I was flipping through the radio one day and settled on a fast-energy type song/station. Jeff walked in the door just after the song changed and immediately knew it was "Em in Em" (I think that's how it's spelled!) and I asked how he knew. It was because so much of it was silenced out because of all the cuss words he uses. I just thought it was some weird song that I couldn't understand the words of! Oh well... that station is a no-go now too. I've even had to censor my iTunes because of some of the old songs that I had forgotten were on there and/or that they had words I don't want the kids repeating.

  3. Great post! I have gone through different times in my life where I really filter what the kids watch. When my kids were young I was very careful with what they watched, now they are teens, and we are still very careful with what they watch. It is wonderful to find another Doctor Who fan, I have watched Doctor Who since I was in High school and they played Doctor Who on PBS, our whole family watches together now that the kids are teens. I also love Little House, and Avonlea- DVDs are great because you can really control what you watch in you home.
    Visiting from Women Living Well Wednesdays ~April

  4. We don't really listen to secular music in our house anymore (although the girls listen to the beach boys and their grandma's drives me crazy)As far as TV, VHS and DVD's are the way to go. We also limit the amount of time they watch. I've had to watch what I'm letting into my life as well, it's amazing how easily the culture affects us.

    I'm looking for mom's to come leave advice on my blog right now, I invite you to come and comment at

  5. Thank you! I get a lot of "flak" from my secular friends for being shocked at shows like Glee. (Seriously, I don't care that they're actually "of age." They're playing high school girls and they shouldn't be dancing like strippers.)

    We've had to cut out a lot of things during the daytime. And I'm extra careful about my music now that the toddler is verbal.

  6. This was great! I often have to take a step back and take a look the things that I'm looking at or listening too.

    Christian Momma

  7. Kasondra, you're not alone! I can't stand that show. I watched half an episode and that was plenty for me.

    I've tried to emphasize to our kids that songs have meaning and are usually talking about *something* and that it's not always harmless. That has caused some problems as they've started singing various songs and want to slow it down and understand word by word. But it also seems to have helped them make better decisions about what they watch and listen to. I am grateful for their awareness in the end!

  8. So, so true! I am struggling with this at the moment. I'm very careful about what my kids watch, and while what I watch now is far better than what I used to watch, I still have a long way to go. Thanks for the encouragement!

  9. Kristie, we started out by fasting from all TV during Lent one year. It takes 40 days to form new habits - or rid ourselves of old ones - and after that fasting period, we just weren't as interested in a lot of what is out there. It made for a good starting point.

    Good luck in your journey!

  10. This is one reason why we got rid of our Cable. We can stream Netflix to our TV set and watch movies, but that is it. We still have to be careful with the Netflix. The commercials on TV are now so shocking that I am even more thankful that we don't have it.

    I have been convicted of watching many movies that I have had said no to my children on. Then I ask myself. Why is it OK for me to see it? Sometimes it is adult content like some serious thematic scenes, but sometimes the cussing might be too bad and such.

    It is a good standard to have. I always think. "Would I watch this with Jesus sitting next to me?"

  11. Stacie, That is a great question: Would I watch this with Jesus alongside? I love that for keeping myself accountable. I was visiting my in-laws in a hotel room this weekend and had time alone for a bit while the baby slept and everyone else went down to the pool. The channel that was on was nothing but biographies but the shows at the time were all of serial killers and people who had committed brutal and violent crimes. Nope. Click.

    Next channel: started out "okay" - nothing great but not indecent. Soon enough, here comes the not-married-steamy-love scene. Thanks. No. Click.

    I ended up watching CNN to get current on the news (one thing I tend to neglect since I don't do TV now :P

    I'm just not that interested in shows that don't inspire me to be a better person much any more. And the movies that I watch for entertainment tend to be ones my kids can watch with me, but even there I end up cringing at least once when a joke comes up that is on the cruder side (usually involving a character getting hit in a sensitive place or something along those lines.) Screens are just increasingly off my list - VERY MUCH to Maestro's dismay, I think. Good thing he likes "Monk"!


I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


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