Hello, my question pertains to the latest Halloween episode of Thinking Out Loud. Cameron specifically says at one point he has an issue with Daniel Tiger because the show doesn’t show actual truth or better yet, reality to our kids. As a father of two I’d like to know what kinds of things I should expose my kids to. Thank you for taking the time to read my question.
That’s a tough question. I don’t have children myself, but I am a music teacher, so I get to interact with many children on a regular basis. There’s no one right answer because every child is different, a unique creation of God.
I was a particularly sensitive child, so I couldn’t handle being exposed to as much as most of my peers. We didn’t celebrate Halloween because the occult is too real and too dangerous. I can’t treat witches and wizards like fun childhood creatures.
However, it’s possible to go too far in sanitizing things for children. I’ve seen young people become very curious about what’s out in the world that their parents won’t let them see. Some teens go off to college and discover there’s a lot in history and other subjects that they were never told about. Then they question the truth of their whole spiritual foundation. They feel like their parents and teachers lied to them.
Open conversation helps a lot. If something is overly sanitized, you can talk with your children about that. If evil is depicted, you can talk with them about that. If God is an integral part of our conversations, children learn through us how to apply God’s Word to everyday life, just like Deuteronomy 6:7 indicates.
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)
The answer is deeper than this, though. Too often we apply Deuteronomy 6:6-7 to parenting, but we skip what God said a verse earlier.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:5 ESV)
Do I truly love God with my whole heart? Have I fallen in love with the beauty of His holiness (Psalm 96:9)? Does God’s holiness cause me to hate the wickedness around me and the wickedness in my own soul (Isaiah 6:1-6)?
Only then can I have true discernment about what things I should allow in my life and in the lives of the children I serve. Only then will I have wisdom to counsel the children as they face evil. Because God has captured my heart.
As a parent of two sons and a daughter (adults now), I can agree that it can be a minefield to monitor what our kids are exposed to. Be present!! I think one of the greatest things you can do as a parent of young children is to be very engaged in what they are taking in, and when you see things that check your spirit be very open with them about that issue. For example if you’re watching a cartoon or movie and the characters are glorifying defiance of a parent’s guidance, then take time to have conversations about what God says about your role of a parent, and how you’ve been given the great privilege to raise, protect and guide them into adulthood. Apart from God, you know your kids better than anyone.
I haven’t seen Daniel Tiger, but I think we have to look at the intent of what we’re watching or reading, etc. Keep track of what your kids are thinking is real and what’s just a silly or funny episode or book. Most would know that Winnie the Pooh, or Paddington Bear are a whimsical characters in children’s books intended to bring delight and a fun read, but bears don’t take on the attributes of living people.
As they get older they may begin to learn about mythology which has given some grief to parents as they realized their kids didn’t have a grasp of what is real and what is invented by men.
Many years ago my family and I were in Boston because my husband had a business trip (and I was like, "Not without us you’re not! Boston has so much to offer in the way of history and art!)
Anyway we went into the outstanding Boston Museum of Fine Art and one of the rooms had an amazing display of huge paintings. On the left side as we walked through was a row of paintings of biblical stories, and on the right side were paintings of mythological stories and characters. So we walked along and I described what was going on on each side, and discussed how the myths were ancient Greek and Roman attempts to explain different aspects of the world, whereas on the left side there were expressions of what we had already studied in the Bible. Of course we emphasized that God’s word is true (nothing has been proven false in the Bible!) But the content of both walls could not all be true at the same time. What deals with reality?
Don’t be shy about putting blocking features on your kids’ phone, pads, laptops, etc. Evil is finding a way to get to our kids through media. In middle and high school my kids participated in speech and debate, and while they needed to do a lot of research to get their sources and form their argumentation, I would have to really stay on top of where they were going because even the ads on some sights were just appalling. It’s a lot to tackle these days as a parent, but obviously it’s very worthwhile.
Keep being awesome, and I’m glad you’re here expressing concerns about what’s on your mind and heart!
I hope others will chime in too.