Recently, I was involved in a discussion about movies and which movies were appropriate for children to watch. As the discussion continued, Philippians 4:8 kept coming to mind. Why did Paul think it was important to remind us to think on things that were good, pure and holy? I think he knew there is a side of man that is drawn to things that are scary, dark and sometimes even evil.
I have heard many parents defend letting their very young children watch PG-13 movies. They believe the children have fun and understand it is just pretend. Interestingly, the subject often comes up because the child, who supposedly loved the movie, is still talking about it days later. Not in a joyful way, but in such a manner it is obvious the child was very upset by the images she saw. I have even seen parents puzzled why their child is having nightmares or acting out violent scenes from the movie.
I spent most of my childhood in a small village out in the country. One of my favorite activities on summer nights was to lie in a lounge chair in our yard and watch for shooting stars. I loved trying to find the various constellations and planets. Now whenever I hear the scripture where God promises Abraham his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky, I think of the sky on those summer nights.
A few weeks ago, my daughter and I spotted two rainbows in the course of a few days. Now that does not sound unusual, except at the age of twelve, those were only the second and third rainbows she had seen. (In spite of me forcing everyone outside to search for rainbows after any storm!) I told my daughter how I always think of God when I see a rainbow because of His promise to Noah. We had to chuckle as we realized we were seeing rainbows because we had finally had a lot of rain after numerous years of drought.
One of my concerns as a Bible class teacher of little ones (and as a parent) is for the children I teach to understand the Bible as history and not as fiction. Unfortunately, there are many people in the world, even some who consider themselves religious, who would argue that the stories in the Bible are fables. To counteract the influences of people in my child’s world who may try to undermine the Bible, I have done everything I could think of to reinforce the reality of the scriptures.
One of the easiest ways to help your child understand that the Bible is about real people, places and events is to continually tell them before you read or tell them a Bible story. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I even separated Bible story time from picture book reading times to create a boundary between the two types of stories.
If you have a child under the age of two, you are probably used to conducting a running monologue for your child about everything. You tell him what you see, you ask her questions and then answer them yourself and probably thoroughly amuse bystanders on a regular basis.
Studies have shown you are doing the best thing for your child. The more words your child hears from you, the faster he will develop his own language skills. The constant exposure to your words imprints them in your child’s brain. Eventually she starts to understand those sounds have meaning and the meanings can get her something she wants more effectively than crying. (Maybe that is why my daughter learned to talk so early. I never was very skillful at deciding which cry was for what!)
Some days, as a parent, it seems as if you are in constant correction mode. I remember, during my daughter’s toddler years, there were days I must have said the word “no” at least a hundred times. As our children get older, we may say “no”less often, but we still tend to focus on their behaviors.
What if instead of focusing on our child’s behaviors, we focused on the heart of our child? I am not suggesting we should ignore inappropriate behaviors, but that we also take the time to dig a little deeper.