Two Kids…One Question

Two kids asking me the same question.

Why can’t I watch what I want?

My four-year old, Ben wants to watch Caillou. But I won’t let him. In my opinion, Caillou whines and has temper tantrums quite frequently. It’s not the example I want Ben to see.

So I tell him “no.” He’s disappointed, complains he can’t watch what he wants and moves on.

My high school freshman is another story.

Rick and I pretty much control all of Jacob’s entertainment choices but this weekend I’ve realized that this can’t continue.  On Friday, he came home with a permission slip from his Honors English class. Sometime during this semester, the class may be viewing the films “Hotel Rwanda”, “Mississippi Burning” and “Sometimes in April”. These are all films based on true stories that contain some very violent scenes.

Jacob is of the age where his worldview needs to, has to, expand. He needs to know the evil Man is capable of committing, the suffering of others, compassion, etc. So in that regard, I’m fine with him watching the films.  But the permission slip states, “I give my permission for my child to watch these films and I agree that the educational benefits outweigh the violence depicted in the films.”

I don’t know if I agree with that statement.

I hedged on signing the permission slip which irritated my son.  He thinks I’m treating him like his brother, Ben. He may have a point.

I know he needs to make his own decisions but making the wrong decision can have some serious consequences. Seeing certain images or scenes can rip away some of his innocence. You can’t “unsee” something. Certain things can leave a permanent stain. So…no, I don’t want him to make his own decisions.

But how will he learn to make good decisions? How will he learn from reflecting on the bad ones?

So….I signed the permission slip but added the comment “I agree that the educational benefits from viewing these films outweigh the graphic nature of the violence…on the above mentioned films.” I’ll take the permission slips on a case by case basis.

I’ve also told Jacob that for now his dad and I will continue to make his entertainment decisions for him and will gradually start giving him more freedom BUT ONLY if he gives some serious thoughts on this matter and decides where his personal boundaries are going to be. I’m asking him to draw his own line in the sand to decide where he will not cross.

I hope I did the right thing.

How do you handle the media choices for your teens? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

This terrifies me beyond belief.

7 thoughts on “Two Kids…One Question

  1. I’ve never been a censor, but on Caillou, I agree completely. When Bowen was little, he watched that. I didn’t care for the temper tantrums and sibling jealousy, and the first time I heard “it’s not FAIR” coming from Bowen’s little mouth, Caillou went buh-bye.

    On teen stuff, it’s obviously harder and I didn’t give myself any time to come up with a reasoned response, so for now, suffice to say that Bowen is a fan of Hollywood horror (thanks to his dad) and Sweeney Todd (that’d be my fault for listening to the soundtrack for 3 months in a row) and he hasn’t killed any puppies yet. 🙂

  2. TOTALLY agree about Caillou – ugh!!!
    My girlfriend and I were just talking about tv shows this weekend – we both have kids 6 1/2 years old and 3-4 years old. Some of the Disney and Nick Jr stuff is too “baby-like” for the 6 1/2 year olds, but then some of it is too teenie bopper for them! It’s rough! My girlfriend was saying she stopped her 6 1/2 year old from watching something on Disney because the talk was all about boyfriends and going on dates and crap too old for a 6 1/2 year old child! It’s hard.
    I say give ’em a book, but then do you read every book they are going to read?
    * sigh *

    • The conversation of books came up too, Alyce. They’ll be reading “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier” in his class. I’ve read that book. It’s a compelling, tragic read. But it’s REALLY graphic. I don’t want him reading that stuff but yet…he’s going to start finding this stuff out. I guess it’s better if we’re alongside him to guide.

      It’s tough.

  3. Ami and I are the same way with our boys. Even though ours are 11 & 10 we still pay very close attention to what they are exposed to. Nick started middle school this year and we have been preparing him for what he may come across and he’s been a little frustrated with us, but it’s all for their well being. This world is a lot different then when we were their ages, the evil is out there and it’s only with the armor of God that we can overcome this evil.

  4. I hear you, Doug. High school is VERY different now. On the second full day of school, Jacob was rather shocked at something he saw. We had to coach him on how to react. “You don’t have to like it or agree with it but you do have to treat people with respect. Don’t judge them. Don’t stare. Don’t let your actions affect your representation of Jesus to others.”

    This is happening at a much faster rate than I anticipated. 🙂

  5. I think the biggest thing is, what you will do anyway, to actually sit with him and talk to him about them. There were things that I probably should not have seen. Many I should not have read. But keeping lines of communication open is important. The point of sheltering is not sheltering for the purpose of sheltering, but sheltering to make him a better man later. He will not understand now but he will gain understanding eventually.

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