Those of you who know me well know that I am a person of strong passion and conviction. I am fiercely loyal, intensely focused, and highly opinionated.
If you’re a newer reader here, you’ve probably not seen this side of me as much as those who know me well have seen it. I’ve learned, from numerous mistakes, that there are many things that are better left unsaid online.
We have a very diverse group of readers here and I don’t feel like my calling is to stir up debate and controversy. Instead, I want to encourage, inspire, and challenge you to live lives of intention and purpose.
So most of my strong words and passionate beliefs are reserved for conversations with those I know best. However, every once in awhile, I just cannot hold back… and today is one of those days.
I hadn’t planned to blog about the whole 50 Shades debate. It’s long been swirling and, with the movie releasing this week, it’s escalating to epic proportions. While I believe that some debate and intense conversations can be healthy and helpful, much of the debate has seemed to be polarizing and divisive. In my (yup, strong!) opinion, conversations that only serve to create an “us” versus “them” mindset don’t foster anything worthwhile.
As a result, I’ve skipped over blog posts and Facebook posts on the subject and kept silent on the topic. We don’t need any more division in our ranks than it seems we already have.
But after this morning, I can keep silent no longer.
You see, Silas (my 5-year-old) had finished most of his Daily List and was getting ready to watch a YouTube LeapFrog video on my phone. I’d picked one out for him, clicked on it, and then was sitting next to him fixing one of the girl’s hair while he started to watch it.
As soon as it began playing, I knew something was seriously wrong. He flipped the phone over face down and acted very surprised. I could tell that the sounds coming from the phone weren’t LeapFrog sounds at all.
I quickly took the phone away to see what it was and was AGHAST to realize that it was a 50 Shades of Grey commercial playing!!! Yes, it was playing before a kid’s educational movie clip on YouTube. For real!
To say I was upset and frustrated was an understatement. So was my husband.
I know that YouTube is not completely safe no matter how many controls we put on it. I get that. And that’s why we’re careful to keep close tabs on what our kids are watching when they do watch YouTube clips.
But seriously? Surely YouTube could at least have the decency to ban commercials for R-rated movies from kid’s channels!!
It was a stark reminder to me that no matter how careful I am as a parent, my children are going to be exposed to things that I wish they wouldn’t be exposed to. I cannot completely bubble wrap their lives from things I feel are objectionable and unhealthy for them to be filling their minds with.
What Can We Do?
As I thought about this more over the course of the day, I realized that while it’s our job as parents to nurture our children, protect their little minds, and instill good values in them, there are ways we can take this a step further.
Instead of just being on the defensive and reacting to the bad attitudes, poor examples, and objectionable things they are exposed to, let’s become offensive and start being proactive about raising our children to be upstanding adults of strong character.
Here are 4 ways we can be on the offensive in our home:
1. We Can Provide Wholesome Role Models for Our Children
It has been well said that you become like the three people you’re closest to.
In the books we read to our kids, the media we watch as a family, the friends our children spend the most time with, and the teachers and coaches they have, we are seeking to have our children regularly rub shoulders with many wise mentors and models.
2. We Can Surround Our Children With Beauty & Purity
We want our kids to appreciate beauty and purity on a deep level, so we are encouraging them to read and listen to good books, develop a love of hymns and classical music, try their hand at drawing and painting, study historical men and women of character, and love the beauty of nature.
3. We Can Fight For Our Marriage
A strong marriage takes enormous amounts of work, but it’s so worth fighting for. We’ve committed to do our best to prioritize our marriage over our kids, spend intentional time each week investing our marriage, constantly look for things to praise and express gratitude for in each other, and work hard to have honest communication between the two of us.*
4. We Can Teach Our Children to Be Critical Thinkers
We don’t want our children to blindly follow our beliefs or the beliefs of others. From the time they were little, we have asked them deep, open-ended questions on a variety of subjects (we let them answer and then we often follow up with, “Why do you believe that?”), encouraged them to question what they hear and make sure it’s valid, and to never accept anything at face value.
How are you promoting beauty, wholesomeness, and a strong marriage in your home?
Note: This is a sensitive topic and one that could be highly controversial. By writing this post, I am not seeking to open a Pandora’s box of debate on whether or not you should read or watch 50 Shades. Because of this, comments of that nature will be deleted. Instead, I’d love to hear you chime on what you’re doing to promote beauty, wholesomeness, and a strong marriage in your own life and in the lives of your children.
*Update: Please note that section on marriage in this post was written for couples who are in healthy relationships where both parties love each other and want to work on issues together and personally. If your spouse is abusive, please, please, please don’t hide the abuse out of fear or let your spouse convince you it’s your fault. Get help immediately.