I wish that I had more time on here. It seems that lately, it is averaging about once a week that I actually get to sit down and write something out. Then the problem becomes…What do I write about? Sometimes, during the hustle and bustle of whatever day it is I find myself forming a post in my head. The problem then becomes wondering when will I actually have time to sit down and get it on, err, the screen (I dare not say paper. “Blogging in graffiti with punctuation,” from Contagion. Sometimes, so very true.)
But there is a gripe/concern/thought that I do need to get out. Bare with me as I go on the mommy rampage that is so overdo.
I’ve been working my way through Driscoll sermons lately. Namely, his sermons from Proverbs (circa 2001) Celebrating Children and the roles of the wife and husband, respectively. If you have an hour and a half of “spare” time and want to listen to something to encourage and build into your walk with the Lord and benefit your family, then these just might be for you. I’ll focus namely on the Celebrating Children sermons that I’ve recently listened to. These Celebrating Children sermons reaffirm and remind us that children are a blessing. While this world views them as commodities and burdens, God views them as valuable and precious and says that they are gifts from above. (Psalm 127: 3-5: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”)
I’m going to back up about a week though, before I start elaborating on why I’m discussing these particular sermons. Last week, Jerry and I had to contend with several rainy days. The unfortunate part of winter is lots of cold, wet and cloudy days where you need to be creative to entertain yourself and your two year old. Some days, my tactics work wonders, some days not. I’ve been singing lots of different nursery rhymes to Jerry lately, two of his favorites have become “Humpty Dumpty,” and “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” with the latter being his absolute favorite at the moment. In an effort to gain his attention and get him to sit on the potty for a prolonged period of time while I work on training him, I allowed him to watch a music video of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” on my (sometimes lifesaving) iPhone. It is a treat for him and makes potty training time extra fun. He enjoyed it so much that I decided to let him come upstairs with me to the big computer and watch videos and look at pictures on the big screen.
We went to YouTube and found MHALL (yes, I know, I’m lazy) and watched it several times. I then discovered (not sure why this didn’t occur to me sooner, but oh well, HOLLER!) a plethora of other videos for children. We’re talking phonics, the alphabet, counting, nursery rhymes, the planets – you name it, there was a video about it. And all were kiddy-fied for your child’s viewing pleasure. They were under several minutes each so they were nice short and yet still stimulating which makes it easier to contend with a two year old who would otherwise be touching everything and banging on the keyboard. During this time is when I experienced a moment of awe, and not in the greatest of ways. The “what in the….?” moment came while Jerry and I were waiting for another video to load up. YouTube from time to time makes you sit through advertisements before you watch whatever it is you’re aiming to watch. No bother. But as Jerry and I were on the “123 KidsTV” channel, waiting for the next video to load up, an advertisement popped up that was about 30 seconds long. For a type of….toy? Nope, though that isn’t exactly fair either. For a new….family movie? Nah.
If you guessed an ad for Vodka, then you would be correct.
You can’t fast forward through these advertisements, the best that you can do is mute them. But they’re also so quick that sometimes, by the time you realize what is on, they’re almost already over. Which means that in just a few seconds, you’ve seen ENOUGH. For some of you who are about to tune out because I’m going to be one of “those moms” *insert groan, eye roll……here* stick with me. Here is why I’m up in arms.
While I absolutely think that our culture has become entirely too acceptable at times to violence, sex and irresponsibility and portrays them with an amazingly casual and par for the course attitude (because Jersey people probably really do fight in front of a Sonic restaurant at 8:30 in the morning and girls really will let you pour champagne all over their chest in a club…right guys?) I also understand the gravity and weight of my responsibility as a parent. It’s out there and it is accepted in mainstream culture. I get it. I don’t agree with it and will not accept that kind of behavior coming from my children, but none the less, it is out there in the world, there for our viewing pleasure. But…why is there a Vodka commercial on what should be a child’s YouTube channel? Am I shocked by this? Yes, for a moment I was. But then I considered a few things I have noticed over the past few weeks.
On ABC Family, I recently caught a viewing of “Dirty Dancing.” It had been AGES since I had seen it and since I adore Patrick Swayze I figured I’d enjoy some mommy time and hunker down with a snack and enjoy some me time. It is a classic, a beloved one at that. One that I remember watching with my older sister….when we were preteens. How in the world we got a hold of that movie to watch it, I’ll never know. Then again, it was a movie about a handsome man, a cute girl, lots of great songs and DANCING. Maybe my parents didn’t think anything was amiss. But after watching it again, I have to again consider….how did we ever get a hold of that movie to watch?? Here is why. First of all, there is a sex scene, which would be obvious why some may find this a tad to risque for the young-in’s. The sex scene goes along with plenty of grinding, skimpy outfits and racy images that are also in almost every other scene at some points. Those are things that I expected and am used to (which in itself can be depressing. We expect racy images now a days.) But the biggest shocker for me actually came from one of the major plot points that I somehow have missed over the last 15 years or more.
When I was younger and watched this movie, a few terms and references went over my head. Thank goodness for that, I suppose, though there are probably plenty of young kids then AND now that probably know full well and “understand” what it was the main characters were talking about. I never realized that the ENTIRE reason that Johnny Castle and Baby Houseman get together is because Johnny’s usual dance partner, Penny, needs to take a night off. Sounds innocent enough. But then you find out that the reason that she needs to take an evening off is because she has been sleeping with a womanizing waiter and has gotten pregnant. She needs to visit a doctor who is only “passing through” for one night to have an illegal abortion, and “solve her problems.” You never actually hear the term “abortion” so it is easy to see why I and younger members of the audience might have missed it, while the adults would still be able to figure out what was what. I remember Penny being “sick” but didn’t realize the reason that Penny ends up sick is because the “doctor” turns out to be some nut job with a folding table and knife who, needless to say, ends up doing way more harm than good.
Did I just miss something? Apparently for almost 20 years, I most certainly had.
I could open the can of worms on the subject on here, and one day I may. But the fact that ABC Family shows a movie not only filled with plenty of sexual suggestions and images, the movie also tap dances around one of the biggest hot button issues of our time, and it is done so casually. I mean, “dancing, abortion, dancing, dancing, sick girl, dancing!” Again, another issue, another time.
I take the time to make sure I guard what my son sees. We keep the television on family friendly channels and typically record shows and movies in our DVR to watch later and have on hand. Plus, fast forwarding through commercials is sometimes handy. But, it isn’t even just that you can choose the right movies or shows to watch anymore. Even the commercials bombarde you and your children with suggestive, violent and even frightening images all for a thirty second preview of the newest Harry Potter movie that is coming out. That is when they’re not constantly pelting them with advertisements for the latest and greatest toys. Again, don’t misunderstand me. While I’m not shocked at the amount of filth that is out there and that is passed off as “entertainment” the main thing I take issue with is…why is this trash on channels or shows that call themselves entertainment for children? Why is there a movie that has a major plot point of a character seeking an abortion on a family channel? Or for that matter, why do there need to be commercials for the latest dance video game that has girls gyrating in next to nothing played during children’s programming? I get it, if you let your kid grow up on MTV, you are going to have a mess on your hands. But for those of us TRYING to guard our children’s hearts and minds and not have them exposed to anything before it is time, or for that matter at all, why are subliminal messages still being snuck in where they have no business being?
I hate the argument of “just change the channel.” What good has that done for us? Stop flicking through the channels for just a second and take a peak at WHAT is on your screen. If it isn’t “Jersey Shore,” it’s “Housewives of somewhere,” or Flava Flav with a bevy of, *cough* less than amiable young ladies vying for his affections. It all ties into this culture that prides itself on it’s “advancements”, acceptances and open mindedness, but now finds itself up to it’s ears in young girls who are anorexic before they’re even teenagers, children going to bed without fathers and a divorce rate that is 50/50. Passivity and changing the channel certainly have worked for us, right? If we allow ourselves to think that “parents can just change the channel” and allow things like this to go on, we’re deceiving ourselves into thinking that this isn’t a huge problem.
We value the things that we shouldn’t, and that is more than evident in what we watch, listen to and read. Sure, you can argue that entertainment doesn’t influence real life, but darned if it isn’t a reflection of what is really going on these days. And this cess pool of impropriety, irresponsibility, anger and selfishness that is somehow disguised as “art” is a breath away from our children. Just watching what channel you turn on isn’t enough anymore.
The images themselves aren’t the only thing that is wrong with what we’re watching. It’s the messages that they send. Take your pick. Between thinking that teenage pregnancy, adultery and gossip are glamorous and being more concerned about who is wearing what and who is sleeping with who, it’s no wonder that statistics are as grim as they are. I’m guilty of it, I turned on William and Kate’s wedding at 6 a.m. I used to watch the Kardashians whine and moan about the smallest, um, dilemmas on their contrived show. And I’m not saying that adults cannot enjoy secular movies without their entire lives falling apart. But the entertainment industries, the news outlets and the magazines are only going to feed us what we are demanding. And if we’re not careful, they’ll be the ones setting the terms, giving the messages and ministering to us and our precious children.
But as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord. And our savior promises us this:
Our God commands and encourages us to not be of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. To focus on what is pure, lovely and joyful. I pray for myself and for you that you can feel empowered to do the same. Both in our own lives and our children’s lives. Mark Driscoll says that if in our own lives we do not honor, serve and fear the Lord, what can we possibly expect to be able to offer our children?