Over a long break, it is interesting what one might run across on TV. My wife told me this part from the Andy Griffiths Show:
When a hobo told Andy he should just let Opie “decide for himself” how he wanted to live… He had these words of Mayberry wisdom.
“No, I’m afraid it don’t work that way. You can’t let a young’n decide for himself. He’ll grab at the first flashy thing with shiny ribbons on it. Then, when he finds out there’s a hook in it, it’s too late. Wrong ideas come packaged with so much glitter that it’s hard to convince them that other things might be better in the long run. All a parent can do is say ‘Wait’ and ‘Trust me’ and try to keep temptation away.”
Over the years, I have found that it is not just children who wants to grab the flashy thing with ribbons on it. Satan is a master marketer, a master packager. All of his temptations look good but have a hook in the end. They taste good on the tongue but end up bitter in the stomach.
As parents we try to share with our children what we have learned the hard way. But they are fixated on the glitter and glam and hear the sirens’ call and are spellbound. Therefore, many of us as parents try to delay our child’s exposure to these temptations.
This is made doubly hard by the media and Internet that surrounds us. Some of the temptation is packed inside of a Disney movie or a video game. Now some of the characters in kids’ cartoons are noticeably transsexual or the female warriors in some games are pretty sexual even if not exposing a lot of flesh.
Also, it is not just sexual issues. We found some of the programs targeting a child audience to be objectionable due to the disrespect and rudeness toward parents and the way adults were portrayed as the buffoons. It is hard to screen everything before our kids see things. However, it is worth the effort.
And we can’t just say, let them watch the old shows like Andy of Mayberry. Even in some of those episodes what comes across is not always wisdom. We found that the best use of media was to prescreen and then watch with our children. We looked for worldview things to discuss. We discussed characters like Nellie Oleson on Little House on the Prairie. We looked at how the Ingalls children would interact with her, though she irritated them like crazy. So, even if the wisdom was not always openly declared in a show, we looked for how God’s principles applied to what we were watching.
Picking up wisdom as we go along is actually Biblical. Jesus taught as he walked along the way. He pointed out things while watching people bring gifts into the Temple or while walking through a field of lilies. The book of Proverbs says, “Wisdom cries aloud in the streets…” (Proverbs 1:20 ESV) Much of what we find in this book are principles gleaned from observations of life; things one can learn on the streets on how life works. Some things like exchanging bribes are observed and later condemned, so one must read carefully and discuss wisely with our children.
But, Andy is right. We cannot leave our children to just “decide for themselves.” We must help them build an internal grid from which to make those decisions when they grow up. Parenting is challenging, but God is our partner, His Word is chock full of wisdom for all of us, and the rewards are worth it in the end.
God’s best, Christopher