I recently wrote an article about the need to be the gatekeepers for our children’s entertainment. As parents, we are responsible for what comes into our homes, and this includes entertainment choices.
While it is critical to be a guardian over our children’s entertainment, we must also be careful to begin to train our kids to walk in discernment for themselves. In other words, we don’t just want to keep our children from ungodly entertainment, we want them to learn to discern for themselves how to avoid harmful content. We want them to understand why we don’t watch certain movies or allow certain types of entertainment, beyond simply “because I told you so.”
I recently had a conversation about discernment with my children. I shared how one drop of poison would totally ruin a good glass of water and make it deadly. In the same way, the devil loves to sneak his poison into what would normally be something good. We need to recognize when music, a movie, or other entertainment has been polluted by the enemy.
My eight-year-old son loves to play with Legos. He likes to look at Lego magazines and see what types of Lego sets he hopes to add to his growing collection, but he also knows that there are certain themes that we will not allow: sets that include magical powers, dragon symbols, or otherwise dark themes. He doesn’t resent this at all, but understands that he does not want to allow poison into his soul, even with something that is seemingly very innocent such as a Lego set. When he looks through a new Lego magazine, he can now often discern for himself which sets would be good and which ones would not.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
If we will intentionally connect with our children, model biblical discernment, and take the time to explain the reasons why we do not allow certain entertainment, we will be equipping them to make their own choices when they are old enough. We cannot shield our kids from the world forever. We must prepare them to make real-life decisions and cultivate a discernment of their own.
Sometimes we need to simply “lay down the law” and say no to certain things. But look for the teachable moments when you can explain the reasoning behind decisions, rules, or standards. Help your kids understand what to look for and how to discern whether or not something should be allowed.
What types of things should we begin to train our children to recognize and avoid in their entertainment? Some of this might depend on what is age-appropriate, but here are some thoughts:
As parents, we are gatekeepers but we are also teachers and guides. We are to train our children, not simply raise them. This means we should be preparing them for the day when they will no longer be under our roof. Our goal should not just be to protect our kids, but to equip them.
Let’s teach our children to cultivate their own discernment starting now. They can learn to discern between good and evil when they are young, and this will carry into adulthood!