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Parenting is a multi-faceted task that demands our intentional time and attention. God has given us this great privilege and responsibility, and He will give us the grace we need as we lean on Him. One aspect of godly parenting is to be the “gatekeeper” of our home.
As gatekeepers, parents determine what is allowed in their home and what is not. This is not something that we should take lightly; we must be vigilant about it. One of the areas that this applies to is entertainment. We cannot always control every facet of what our children are exposed to, but we can control what we allow in our home.
Entertainment has the potential to deplete the spiritual health of anyone, but in this article I am focusing on the effect of entertainment on children in particular. In order to be gatekeepers, we must first lead by example. If we as parents are consuming worldly and ungodly entertainment, how can we expect otherwise of our children? I believe this is an area that many in the church have become way too lax in. Having strict guidelines and strong convictions about entertainment is not legalism; it is love and obedience to God!
Below are two ways that we should be the gatekeeper for our children’s entertainment.
1. The Content of Entertainment
Parents, are you diligent to monitor what your children read, watch, and listen to? This is a necessity! Consider what the apostle Paul said about the type of things that we should allow into our mind:
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
We are told to come out from the world and be separate (see 2 Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1). We are told to not allow ourselves to be polluted or defiled by the things of the world (see James 1:27). We are told to be holy as God is holy (see 1 Peter 1:13-16). All of this certainly applies to our own entertainment choices and to what we allow our children to be entertained by.
Too many parents are allowing their children to consume entertainment that is unhelpful at best and ungodly at worst: occult-themed books, movies, and video games; entertainment that is laced with worldly philosophies and mindsets; things that promote fear, anger, and violence; the normalizing of selfish and rebellious attitudes; or simply things that subtly deplete spiritual hunger.
If your children are going to watch a movie, why not let it be one that edifies them spiritually? Find books that not only interest your kids, but that help them grow. The world system is not neutral, and its entertainment has negative affects on our children. There are some great Christian resources out there that are good quality and fun for kids. (Check out these resources for ideas for your children)
2. The Time Spent on Entertainment
Not only must we monitor the content of our children’s entertainment, but we must also limit their time spent on it. Sometimes its okay to let the kids be “babysat” by a movie, but this should not become excessive. Children do not need to spend time in front of a screen all day. They need interaction, play, and activities that engage their imagination and mind. Wholesome entertainment in moderation is fine, but constant entertainment is not healthy emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually.
Set limits on how often and for how much time your children can watch movies or engage in other entertainment. Don’t allow convenience to dictate these guidelines, but what will produce the best fruit for your children in the long-run. We must be willing to set these boundaries and stick with them.
Parents, we are in charge of training our children in the ways of the Lord. This will not happen by accident. Being the gatekeeper for our children’s entertainment means that we take a proactive approach, not a passive one. We cannot afford to be loose with these things, and just hope everything turns out okay. While we can’t always control everything our kids come across, we must take responsibility and be the gatekeepers of our home!