Aidan and Gresham playing Angry Birds on Dad’s phone – a coveted privilege!
There are many issues to consider when it comes to electronic media (amount of time spent being entertained, etc.), but in this post I want to share with you one challenge that we have been dealing with at our house lately…
The Trouble with “Smarty Lines”
Our boys seem to have amazing memories. Maybe it’s my age, or the amount of things that my brain has to keep up with on a daily basis, but I just can’t remember things the way they do! It only takes one or two viewings of a movie for the boys to zero in on a few of the many “smarty lines” in the movie, memorize them, and recite them at the most opportune times such as the dinner table or even, heaven forbid, Sunday School. You know the ones… things like, “Get out of the way, you moron!” Humorous insults and name-calling are like magnets for little boy brains.
I am purposefully not going to mention any movies by name in this post, because I really feel like this is an issue of conscience. It’s an area in which you must prayerfully consider what your children’s hearts are drawn to and how you should shepherd them. I don’t think that it’s wrong to watch a movie in which the characters say things that don’t line up with Scripture. There are times when analyzing the actions and attitudes of movie characters can be very helpful. However, Jordan and I have made the decision to take three movies out of the boys’ rotation because of the “smarty lines” in them and how those lines have become a part of the everyday thoughts and conversations of our boys. I’m not sure when, if ever, we will get them out again.
Here are some verses to consider when it comes to family entertainment:
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
“Let no unwholesome (literally, rotten) word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”
Do the things your children watch make it easier or more difficult for them to obey these commands of Scripture?
We talked about this topic at the dinner table the other night. I asked the boys to think about what it is that makes it so fun to repeat the sassy things that movie characters say. Aidan (age 9) said, “It’s funny because they say the things that we really want to say, but we aren’t allowed to!” His statement told me a lot. When sin is made into sport on TV, how can they resist it?
“Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool, And so is wisdom to a man of understanding.”
“Folly is joy to him who lacks sense, But a man of understanding walks straight.”
A sarcastic comment or a stinging insult seems so satisfying in the moment. It is a “joy” to “him who lacks sense.” However, like all sin, the pleasure is for a moment and the consequences are lasting. Many of us can probably recall moments in our lives that someone hurt us with something they said. I don’t want my boys to walk in the path of foolishness! Ultimately, they need the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts to convict them of sin and to give them hearts of obedience that love the Lord, but woe to me if I make it easier to view sin as a joy by feeding their minds with things that glorify a sharp tongue. Ephesians 6:4 commands us to bring up our children in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord,” not the influence and instruction of the world!
Again, this is an issue of conscience because Scripture does not provide us with a list of approved movies and TV shows. We each need to look at the principles laid out in Scripture and then make decisions for our families. I will say, though, that we have found that older TV shows and movies are much more mild in general than the options that are around today. We have Netflix for our Wii, and that has been a good way to find decent options for the boys to watch.
Are “smarty lines” a problem for your children? Have you had trouble with this issue?
If you’re interested in the rest of the “Biblical Boyhood” series, you can find the posts here:
Part 2: Fighting, Retaliation, and Bullies
Part 3: Setting an Example of Biblical Speech (A Challenge for Moms)
Setting an Example of Biblical Speech Part 2
Jenny Oct 22, 2012
I found your post on Pinterest and it sure spoke to my heart. I'm going to have my husband read it, too. We have been talking for years about wanting them to watch more Mayberry and less ____________ - fill in the blank with any number or shows on currently. But I get lazy. This post is a great reminder for me to NOT be lazy. When you point out the fact that by allowing my kids to watch shows that make it easier for them to sin.... That's huge!
Matthew 18:6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." I don't know if it's the same thing, but that's the verse that came to my mind.
Emmy Gallodoro Oct 22, 2012
I also found this on pinterest and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. Just yesterday my four year old called me an idiot. I can honestly say this is not a word spoken in our home. So it got me thinking where did it come from? My husband and I will have to now go threw all their movies to pin point where it came from and get rid of it. I also learned that he told his great grandmothert to shut up this is also a word we don't use so he has to be learning this else where. He is not in daycare so I know its not coming from there. I try so hard to teach my boys right from wrong but as your son said its seems fun to use those words. To the innocent at heart they truly don't understand the consequences of such hurtful words.
Sarah Oct 22, 2012
Thanks for your thoughts on this topic. We have had the same struggle at our house. For example: I honestly thought my 6 year old knew better than to use the phrase "kick your butt," and wasn't too concerned that it was in an otherwise-good movie my kids liked to watch. However, for some reason, he decided to repeat this phrase while playing with our friends' two year old. She kept repeating it, and it took forever for her mom to get her to stop. I felt so bad, and I was so embarassed. But thankfully, my friend was very understanding, and it made me relook at what our kids are watching. And you're right about those phrases sticking with boys in particular. I feel like my son remembers those phrases more than my girls.
Ticia Oct 22, 2012
We were watching Full House on our vacation and I ended up deciding my kids couldn't watch it anymore because my little Princess was starting to imitate the disrespect that Michelle had in her voice.
Melissa Deming Mar 21, 2013
thank you for writing this! My twins boys are 4 - so they are just now getting into some of the older action-oriented cartoons and disney movies. We don't have TV but we do have Netflix. I've had to set several shows as 'off limits' because of the speech they pick up. It is so hard! But I hope that it is worth it!
Seanna Jun 4, 2013
Yes. My oldest children are now 8 and 6. Over the years of parenting them we have slowly narrowed their tv/movie options to the point that they are now only permitted to watch nature movies that glorify God through the wonder of his creation, or pre-viewed (by husband and I)learning videos on other topics.
What goes in is what comes out.
Time after time, after watching a show/movie, my children would spend hours or days parroting back things that they saw and heard. And though there were some interesting things, it was usually the most base aspect of what they had watched that was coming back out.
We really do have a responsibility to help our children follow Phillipians 4:8. My older children have memorized it with me, and now we can look at a book/movie and say, "Is it a Phillipians 4:8 book? (or movie)" They can answer the question themselves, and so frequently the answer is, 'no.'
What goes in is what comes out.
Gail Yundt Jul 1, 2013
Hi,there! I'm looking for crafts for some boys in our upcoming VBS in August. I'm thinking some fast musical "instruments" like a drum or shaker made with a small PVC pipe? I can't find the ingredients or instructions even tho I can almost see how to do this. Have you done and of these types of crafts? I only have the children, 20 at a time, for about 20-25 minutes in rotation (80 kids total). Any ideas would be great!!! There's lots of girl-type crafts, but I wanted something that makes noise or is otherwise more awesome than a colored paper they can hang on the frig! The days I would do this are covering: Elijah (fire, noise from the Baal priests) and something to do with the Mt Golgotha and Jesus cross. (I'm really stumped on that one).
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