Though I am a liberal politically, socially, and in terms of Biblical interpretation, there are some values that I hold on to rather tightly. Maybe these particular views are conservative. Maybe I am just an overprotective parent. Whatever it is, I find myself wanting to shield my children from images of sex and violence.
I seriously irritated the receptionist at my doctor’s office recently. The office had set up a television in the waiting room. The movie that was playing when I arrived with my children in tow was some sort of romantic comedy. The first scene involved a ridiculous argument that had my daughter laughing. Unfortunately the arguing led to kissing. I tried to get my daughter to read her book, but she was enthralled. (My son had Minecraft so he couldn’t care less.) The TV was loud and their was no escaping it. The movie cut to commercial. In the next scene the characters were putting their clothes back on. Then they started arguing about the last time they had sex and the daughter that they made together. At this point I jumped up and ran to the receptionist. I said, “Can we please turn off the television? It is giving my daughter quite an education.” She looked at me like I was crazy, “What is wrong with it?” Surely she could hear every word. I was embarrassed, but not backing down. “These people had sex and their arguing about making a child together…” She was really put out and said she didn’t even have a way to change the channel. Her co-worker reluctantly began searching for the remote. Fortunately there was one woman in the waiting room who understood my distress. A Muslim woman with a head covering smiled sympathetically at me and said “I am sure we can turn the volume down.” She found the hidden buttons and took care of it in seconds. The receptionists just scowled. Why was it so hard for those women to understand my distress?
This evening while watching the football game with those expensive commercials we saw some disturbing, violent and bloody images. When I can tell it is going to be a bad one I tell the kids to look away. One child does, but the other always watches closely to discover the forbidden fruit. It varies which one is staring. Realizing I can’t shelter my children any longer I said to the children tonight, “Some people really like things that are scary or violent. Maybe their real lives aren’t exciting enough.” My daughter, always eager to agree with me, said “My life is plenty interesting. Remember the time when we went hiking and we went under that creepy old bridge?” Her response was cute. My comment aimed to be nonjudgmental, while still defining those images as “scary” and “violent” I was also telling my children that is not how we pass our time. I didn’t want to tell them it is wrong to like scary movies. It’s not. The world is confusing enough without making them feel guilty about something as innocuous as watching a movie containing violence.
Since we do not cut ourselves off from … everyone else (normal people?)… we have to talk to our children carefully and frequently about what they see and hear. My folks are addicted to the local evening news. (Is it a baby boomer thing?) And I ought to be ashamed to admit that my Dad got me hooked on Judge Judy! So when we brought the kids for an extended stay with their grandparents we could not continue with a sheltering approach. Instead, as we were driving away from the grandparents, I said, “You saw a lot of things on the television that you don’t usually see. Do you have any questions about what you saw?” I thought they might have some pretty heavy stuff on their little minds, but they were focused on why Judge Judy is so mean and yells at everyone. Fourteen exhausting hours of driving later, we pulled into the driveway of our own home. At that moment my son asked, “So how does a baby start to grow inside of a Mommy anyway?”