Stories for Life

When I became a Mom I assumed I would suddenly become really conservative regarding the media my kids took in. I have kind of surprised myself here. On the one hand I’ve just let my daughter watch more TV than I ever wanted just because life happened, and that’s not anything I’m proud of and something I’m always working on.
However,  it has dawned on me that I may end up letting my kids see or read certain intense pieces of art earlier than I may have initially thought I would.
Before I get into this, this is not an opening for jesus jukes or a debate. I feel like, among evangelicals what we decide to watch or read and not watch and read can become a holiness contest, and that’s stupid. Let’s try not to use our decisions regarding Disney movies in some kind of perverse Evangelical mommy war, OK?
I’m really committed to homeschooling my younglings. There are many reasons we have made the decision to home school and I’m not here to convince you to do the same,  but yes I do want to shelter them.  I’m putting that out there, I want to shelter my kids. I think that’s part of my job while they are small. So while I’m very selective about what I expose my kids to, I feel like stories, quality, powerful stories, true or not true are great teachers. They can balance out if you will, my best attempts to provide a nurturing shelter for my growing kids.
I recently let Leia watch The Hunchback of Notre Dame, it was not very good and I probably won’t be letting her watch it again, but Victor Hugo is a great example of stories that are worth possibly rocking your kids world a bit with. Leia was visibly moved by the awful Disney version of this story. At first I panicked when I saw her little tearful eyes, but then I took a deep breath and tried to use it, this little exposure to suffering and injustice, to talk about what Christ did for us.  It was kind of a scary moment as a parent, but I realized again how powerful stories are and how I’d much rather Victor Hugo give her a glimpse into total depravity than the evening news.
I know all kids are different and some are just more prone to fear and nightmares and these are personal decisions,  but I’ve even heard of people not reading missionary biographies because they were too intense, basically too much suffering. First thought, how blessed are we that we know so little suffering we can make that choice for our kids,  secondly, you never know when real devastating suffering may enter even your life,  perhaps being open and talking about things like death or injustice, even in the most childlike terms may make it easier to come through true catastrophe with faith. The life most of us live in our comfortable American homes is not the life most people live, it may sound preachy or cliche but I want my kids aware of that as soon as possible.  If I could we’d already be traveling to the places very unlike the American suburbs, but for right now if a missionary bio can bring this reality into our home, great.
Parenting kids through movies and TV today is really confusing, at least for me, I know I will always be thinking about it and taking it on a case by case basis, but I also know I want to move away from fear. If something scares my kids I want to point them to the one who can calm those fears. If a story breaks their heart, it may be a heartache worth having. I want to shelter my kids, I want them to think about what they let influence them, but I want them to let life in and I would like them to start coming to terms with the pain in this world while I’m sheltering them if possible. It’s a tricky business, but I know in my life God has used all kinds of stories to teach me. I mean let’s take a look at scripture, it’s story after story meant to teach and change us. While we are at it, the Bible ain’t Sesame Street. Scripture deals with real people in a real and hurting world. It’s just not that clean. The flannel board, cutesy version of Noah for instance,  probably isn’t really serving us well. I’d like to offer my kids more than that.  Exactly when and how that goes is the challenge.