Today we have a guest post from Kristen. Here is a little bit about Kristen:
Kristen is a stay at home mom to two incredible kids, ages 2 & 4. As former Wedding & Event Planner, she now celebrates the everyday stuff of life and works to make each day special. She has long lists, loves Diet Coke and playing jokes on her husband. On her blog you’ll find fun ideas for children’s activities, creating memorable moments and of course, party planning and other wacky events. You can find her at Celebrate Every Day With Me.
Not too long ago, I read an article in a magazine about a three year old boy whose favorite movie was SpiderMan. This may not surprise you, but it sure did surprise me! In fact, I was actually grieving the fact that a little toddler who should be playing with cars, learning his alphabet and having his boo-boo’s kissed witnessed the PG-13 violence and story-lines meant for those much older.
Innocence is a seemingly elusive concept in our modern world. Children are exposed to the violence and adult content that pervade our movies, media and video games, not to mention our marketing. (Did you catch Cassandra’s post on our culture causing children to grow up too fast? It is a must read!) As a mom of a 2 and 4 year old, I am trying to be vigilant in protecting the innocence of my sweet children, but it is a daunting task. How do we protect the eyes and ears of our children while living in a world where violence is the norm and immorality is widely accepted?
Merriam-Webster defines innocence as “freedom from guilt or sin through being unacquainted with evil.” Keeping your children in the proverbial box won’t cut it. As much as we want to shelter our kids (and oh boy, do I!), there will be times when we will not be around.
Consider these thoughts as you endeavor to protect the innocence of your child:
Closely monitor what your child watches on television. Be cautious of exposing your child to story-lines that are suited for older ages. Even traditional children’s tv programming doesn’t always know where to draw the line. Take into consideration your child’s age, sensitivity and ability to process the subject manner in a healthy way.
Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a national speaker and author of “Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill” explains that a child should not see any act of violence on the television until they are of the literate age (usually age 6-7). Until then, their brains are unable to separate fantasy from reality.
I have also discovered that televised sporting events can be tricky! Many show commercials that are not safe for the eyes of my four year old,whether it be violent scenes promoting an upcoming movie or the provocative nature of adult beverage commercials.
Avoid playing violent video games. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman also explains that we are de-sensitizing our children by allowing them to “shoot” at people in video games. When the military trains a soldier to kill, they are 'hard-wired' with safe-guards. These don’t exist for the child playing large amounts of video games in the home.
Build strong relationships with your children. Work to have the kind of relationship where your child can come to you with any problem or concern. As a parent, I want to know what my child is exposed to and what his friends are doing. Communication through a strong relationship is the key.
Communicate age-appropriately. When you see something negative on the TV or on the go, keep an open line of communication. Explain why something is wrong. Don’t leave out the role of God as the law-giver. Kids are better prepared to separate right from wrong if they are rooted in the absolutes of who God is.
As your child grows, regularly host friends at your house. Have the fun house! This way you can observe first-hand the interactions and activities of your child’s circle of friends. We know a mom and dad who regularly host 6-7 teenage boys for Friday night sleepovers at their house. Why? They serve incredible big breakfasts every Saturday morning. The friends talk about it and look forward to it. And bonus for these parents, they are able to exhibit strong, positive influence, while observing their sons’ peer groups.
Pray for your child, his or her current and future friends. There is incredible power in prayer. I am so grateful that the Lord hears the cries of our hearts. Just as many parents pray for their child’s future spouse, pray for your child’s friends and those who will have much influence over their lives as they grow.
No, keeping your children in a box isn’t going to work. As much as I want to shelter my kids, there will be days when I have to trust I have done my job in teaching and instructing, but more than that, rest in the knowledge that God watches over them, even when I’m not around.
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