A few weeks ago, while visiting friends, Eldest texted to ask me if she could watch a movie. When I looked up the movie, I didn’t like what I read about the language, sexual content, sexual confusion, and group bullying in a shower.
I received the usual arguments. “But she said it was fine.” “Everyone’s parents let them watch it.” “My entire group of friends have seen it and they all say it’s fine.”
According to a recent MomLife Today post by Shaunti, I’m not the only mom dealing with this issue. What to do?
In response to Eldest’s pleas, I listed my specific concerns regarding the movie. I also told her a story:
In my early teens, back in the stone ages of VCRs and video rentals, a friend brought a comedy to my house to watch. When I mentioned it to my dad, his face grew serious. “I think you need to choose between your Christian morals and watching that. You know how I always tell you not to go anywhere an angel would refuse to go? An angel would not want to sit through that movie because of the language that comedian uses. However, I’m going to let you choose.”
I never did see that movie, nor do I wish to. What stopped me the most is that my dad wasn’t one to preach or expound upon living like a saint. He challenged me to weigh my desires against what I knew to be true and right. I appreciated that he didn’t bring a hammer down or treat me like a baby. If he had, I probably would have wanted to see the movie more.
It is not only children that deal with issues such as these. Moms are faced with these sorts of dilemmas, too. Maybe there are books that “everyone” is reading or shows that all the other moms watch with their kids. Perhaps everyone seems to be updating their houses, all the other parents have gifted kids, and everyone else drives a better car. Whatever it might be, temptations and the desire to be part of the group pull at us every day. Avoiding them is like trying to outrun the rain.
When faced with these life issues, I still do what my father taught me. I put my arguments and desires on one side of an imaginary see saw. The other side I put what I know to be true. In the case of the movie for Eldest, I might put Philippians 4: 8: “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things” (HCSB).
When I back away from the see saw and look at the sides from a long-term perspective, often my choices become clear. In the short term, watching the movie/playing the violent video game/making that purchase seems like fun and a way to fit in. But what are the costs to me in the long run? When I weigh it against what God tells me, the see saw tips, in this case to the Philippians 4:8 side. Delving into some aspects of life can leave us tarnished and torn. Is it worth it?
Going against the crowd and choosing to do what is “excellent and praiseworthy” can feel like swimming up a waterfall. The world crashes against you and tries to pull you into the murky waters below. But once you’ve crested the falls and can see the big picture, the hard journey is worth it, yes?
Do I always succeed? No. Will my daughter always make the right choices? No. Sadly, sometimes consequences, both natural and imposed, are the best teachers.