My first child is yet to be born, and I’m already dreading THE talk.
Which is why my wife and I have decided not to have the sex talk with our children; instead, we want to have many talks with our kids, often including sex in the discussion.
Easier said than done!, you might say. I know that parenting is touchy subject, but allow me to describe a vision of a better way of having difficult conversations with children.
Through books, magazines, blogs, music, television, YouTube, films, and others, we consume more mass media today than any other people in history. As media, each of these is a form of communication, a medium for delivering a message.
And everything does have a message.
Each song we hear communicates a message. Everything on television is a delivery vehicle for an idea of some form. Even the intentional lack of a message is itself a message.
As Christians, it is crucial that we understand this truth.
Veggie Tales is not unique in teaching children a lesson.
Cinderella teaches a lesson.
Harry Potter teaches a lesson.
The Avengers teaches a lesson.
Taylor Swift songs teach lessons.
As we consume media, we should constantly be asking ourselves what is being taught. What message and worldview is each song, film, book, and television series conveying?
These are conversations that we should also have with our spouse and children, constantly analyzing messages and comparing them to the truth of Scripture. As families, we should develop one another into critical thinkers and wise media consumers.
It is truly lamentable that sexual messages are so prevalent within even “child-friendly” media, but we can also use these as launching pads for conversations about how the Bible’s teachings contrast with the world’s concept of truth.
Our children will be exposed to much more media than we desire; therefore, doesn’t it make sense to be proactive by teaching them how to engage it? We will never be able to fully shelter them, so let us WISELY teach them how to compare everything to the Word of God.
Whenever we watch Aladdin, Cinderella, or The Little Mermaid, we can use them to discuss what God expects a biblical romance to look like. Whenever we read of or watch a wedding, we can discuss why God values marriage so highly. Whenever we are presented with scantily-clad persons, we can discuss the harm of disconnecting nakedness from marriage.
All of this requires us to know the Scriptures well, to think critically about everything, to be constantly intentional with our children’s media consumption, and to make thoughtful conversations a normal occurrence. It is a daunting task, but isn’t that the nature of parenting?
After all, the Bible commands us to have Scripture continuously on our lips, particularly with our children:
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV)
Make a habit of dissecting media and turning yourself back to Scripture.
Make a habit of dissecting media and turning your spouse back to Scripture.
Make a habit of dissecting media and turning your children back to Scripture.
In this world, we are always consuming. Let us, therefore, teach our children how not to be consumed by the world.