My kids (age 10 and 13) have been pushing me to let them watch PG-13 movies more and more lately. Not many of the reviews I find tell much about the content of the movies (at least, the content I’m interested in as a mom). I’m a bit worried because I’m afraid my older kids’ attraction to these movies will influence my younger ones (age 5 and 8). Any advice?
One of the crucial tasks of a parent is to guide and direct our children, especially in areas where their thoughts and character are being impacted. Sadly, the values portrayed in movies are often ones we don’t want our children to adopt, so we’ve got to pay close attention to what our kids are watching. Because our children will be making more and more of their own choices as they get older, it’s vital that they learn how to exercise discernment for themselves when it comes to movies and other media.
What you ultimately want for your children is not just for them to exhibit right behaviors, but for them to internalize the right principles that will then direct their actions and attitudes. Helping them adopt these values involves lots of one-on-one communication and time. I know some busy parents might not feel like they can make time for this, but the fact is that if you don’t actively teach your children your values, Hollywood will gladly step in to teach them its values.
But there’s good news: Your children are listening to you, and you are the most influential voice in their lives. Make time to talk with your children about your family’s values and how they may differ from the ones being taught in some of the movies they may want to watch. Remember, one whole Asset category – Positive Values – is set aside to highlight the importance of Caring, Equality, Integrity, Honesty, Responsibility and Restraint. Pointing out examples of these Assets as they are portrayed in media can be a great learning tool. You may even stop a movie when one of these Assets is exhibited and talk about how it was expressed and the difference it may make in the life of the person living it out – and the difference it may make in the life of the person on the receiving end.
Let them know, too, that what they choose to watch will not just have an impact on their thought life and character but on the processes in their brains that influence their thoughts and character. Talk with your children about taking ownership of their thoughts, their decisions, their actions and their lives.
On that note, remind them about how good decisions lead to good consequences and bad decisions often lead to bad consequences. This may seem obvious to most adults, but it’s not for children. Impress on them that what they learn through movies will eventually affect the decisions they make. And talk about what personal freedom looks like – not just the freedom to choose what they want to watch, but the ability to choose well. In addition, it’s worthwhile for them to know that their choices can affect not only themselves but can influence their younger siblings who are looking up to them and being influenced by them—for good or bad.
Teaching media discernment will take time and effort, but you have what it takes to succeed. You can do it!
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