How should you raise your children to know how to discern what is sinful or not, rather than smothering and stifling; keeping them from being able to know how to deal with the problems the world will send them later on?
Each family differs in their ways of raising children, which is perfectly normal – what I am going to speak about in this post is not this fact in general, but rather, I am going to explain a very serious issue arising in the homes of well-meaning Catholic families, concerning movies and TV shows.
Just a note; I am NOT in favor of, or promoting the idea of having Television in the house; rather, the focus here is on Television SHOWS that are now, today accessible via the internet, ect.
It is quite easy to find blogs and websites that decry movies or television in general as “brainwashing“, a “tool of the Illuminati and Satan” and so on… but then, even more prevalent are Catholic (CATHOLIC mind you!) media outlets that portray and review movies, good AND impure, as just a movie, nothing to worry about. So, which side do we choose? Which version are we going to try and create in our family concerning the recreational, (and sometimes, educational) outlets in the form of movies and television shows?
Although I am only 23 years of age, I have witnessed already many different forms of families with entirely different ideas and “rules” about the movies that their children are allowed to watch.
One sort of family completely forbade any movies at all! In fact, computers were also forbidden in the house. The well-meaning parents wanted to protect their children from the filth of impurity that is so prevalent in today’s culture, most especially in the entertainment that is pushed into the homes and into the view of our children. The parents took steps and went to great lengths to keep their children innocent and pure, by keeping them away from all movies in general. Here’s the problem… the children were “exposed” to movies when they went to their relatives and friends homes. When they went out and saw the TV screens in waiting rooms, shopping malls, and corner stores. Soon they went out with their friends to the movie theaters. Movies are such a gigantic part of our entertainment and culture that it is virtually impossible to “shield” children from it. Even if you were to “go off the the grid” and live out in the boondocks…would you keep your children from having any friends? Would you keep them from family members who disagreed with your ideas? What about when your children grew up and made a life for themselves?
The bottom line is;
If you only kept them away from it and acted as if it was “so sinful, off limits, gravely dangerous, BAD” ….being a former child, I know that things become oh so much more interesting and attractive if they are called, “off limits, dangerous, something we don’t even talk about.” That draws a child in so much more than if something is explained as to why is it bad (within reason; concerning the child’s age of course). Children who were raised in homes that completely shut out movies and TV shows, scrupulously, ended up in sad cases of the now-adult-children watching whatever they wanted in their own homes, with friends who encouraged them, and a foundational repulse to anything “nitpicky”.
If you never taught your children how to DEAL with the impurity, that is now a foundation (not just a part of) our everyday lives; then, rather than be able to withstand and function properly in the world, they would have no idea how to combat it. They would have no understanding as to what exactly is wrong with it, and why – meaning, if you have no idea what is wrong and why, then you can easily be swayed to believe that it is not so bad, and there isn’t anything really wrong with it, by the world, and “nice” friends (and, perhaps, the close relatives who disagree with the parents carefulness.)
So, rather than squeeze your children into a box, hoping they will never come out; AND rather than just letting them live as they please with no restraints or guidance….
1. Teach your children the faith, from day one.(The St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism is excellent in helping with this; I still read it and it still helps me to this day with its simple pictures and explanations – You can see some of the illustrations here, and you can check out the book here! You can also download or just read online the text of the book here. )
Seton Home Study School is a great Catholic school if you are interested in homeschooling with an excellent curriculum.
Books like, Manners in God’s House, I Believe: The Creed, Confession and the Ten Commandments for Little Catholics, The Mass Explained to Children , anything by Mother Mary Loyola , St. Benedict Center books, Seton Press, are also great to help teach the little ones!
If your children are well educated in faith and morals, it will be much easier to explain to them what is wrong with a bad movie or TV show, or why they cannot watch it, or why “We aren’t going to watch it..” ect.
2. Instead of banning movies completely, try using Parents Guides, such as:
Common Sense Media (their morals are not as traditional as ours but they go into details about what is in the movie, which is very helpful!)
Searching the name of the movie in question along with “parents guide” and read the parents guide on IMDB if there is one.
Parental Guide.org is also another review site that can help, there are also other parents viewing guide sites such as, http://parentpreviews.com/ https://www.movieguide.org/ http://www.pluggedin.com/
… to see if the movie you are about to watch – expose your children too is appropriate for their souls.
JUST A NOTE; it’s best not to go by whether the sites above approve the movie, but rather if YOU approve of the movie, based on its morals in question. Some sites (even some Catholic ones) are way too open minded when it comes to movies.
Of course, there WILL be a time, perhaps, where something will pop up in the movie your child is watching. The best thing to do is to take it calmly and rationally, not freaking out and acting like a Puritan (haha). You can throw out the movie of course, and you can talk to the person who gave you the movie for your children.
3. If you prefer – DON’T have access to movies in your home. But still, be broad minded and (like I mentioned), be very educated in your faith and on movies. Be aware. Teach your children the faith! Teach them how to be good little boys and girls, and they will learn to hate sin and flee from impurity rather than be attracted to it, unknowing what trouble it will bring.
4. Be the good example! If after you put your children to bed you pop in an episode of a somewhat trashy or EXTREMELY TRASHY and immoral show, or movie… well, do I need to explain this? Your children will learn from you. Children are just little adults; they are not stupid or dumb. Even outside of movies and entertainment, if you, yourself are not showing and being a good Catholic model of “holiness” then do not expect your children to be !
5. Know that bad things may (can… possibly will) happen, but if you did your best; then that is all that God has asked of you! It is NOT your fault if your child ends up being “the worst sinner”, and a terrible adult, addicted to who-knows-what EVEN IF you raised him or her in “the perfect way” “in the perfect environment”. Ect. It happens. Yes, it happens! But was it for nothing!? No! Your gave them their faith, that firm foundation! Your (continual) prayers and sacrifices may very well save them from the eternal fires of hell ! God knows all and sees all. Always remember that He is in control, and all that He asks is our obedience to His will…
Pray. Pray. Pray! Prayer will bring down Grace to be able to go through anything that is sent to you! God never allows what you cannot handle; why would He risk it?
The Blessed Mother is the PERFECT “bestie” when it comes to your children, your family, and PURITY. Pray for her to intercede for your children.This leads up to number six…
6. Pray the Rosary as a family. The graces and WONDERFUL things that, that brings is UNIMAGINABLE! Refer to #5, if your children do go down a terrible road… if you said the rosary together before (and if you continue to say it FOR them!) there is a a great hope and chance that their souls may be saved from the fires of hell by Our Lady. Never despair. Never fear.
Well, there is much more that can be said here but the bottom line is;
KNOW YOUR FAITH.PRAY. FIND THE MIDDLE GROUND (when it comes to movies & shows).
Do not despair. Do not be afraid.
I want to refer (there’s that word again.. third time I use it!) you to an EXCELLENT book! It is written simply, and is very, very, VERY good for children and teens (especially those who are graduating school!) to help them stay on the “straight and narrow” once they enter into the world. You can find it here.
So you see; we are meant to be soldiers for Christ! Fighting evil! Not to be victims of this world; drowning in uncertainty, and eventually lukewarmness.
Which do you want your child to be? Victim or Soldier for Christ?
Which does GOD want them to be?
Until next time, God bless!