Friday, December 7, 2007

My Thoughts on Random Subjects

Since there will be no new information about the adoption until next week, I thought I would share my thoughts on some random subjects. For those of you who check in only to receive recent adoption updates feel free to ignore my ramblings . . . :)

Here is my view on television and why we don't allow our children to watch television. Yes, we are one of THOSE kinds of families, but we weren't always this way. We still do allow them to watch an *occasional* video, but VERY seldom.

I used to let the children watch half an hour to an hour a day of t.v.--this amounted to a 1/2 hour program after lunch and 1/2 an hour before dinner so that I could make dinner. No big deal.

However, and this is reason #1 why we don't allow them to watch t.v., I was convicted that I wasn't using t.v. appropriately. I wasn't watching it with them. I was using the t.v. in order to accomplish MY things without interruption. I was using it as a babysitter. Instead of training them to play quietly and leave mommy alone to take care of things, they would watch a video. Instead of training them to not interrupt when I was on the telephone, I would throw on a video. Instead of teaching them to help me make dinner or to play quietly at the dinner table, I would put on a video. Now, this wasn't everyday and all the time, but it was frequent enough that I was convicted that I was avoiding training them by placating them. I decided to cut out all t.v. and videos and train my children to obey me, to be quiet when I was on the phone, to play quietly when I was busy, or needed a shower.

The second reason came when I was spending time with God one day. I read the verse in John where Jesus said: "I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." I meditated on what that meant--"having life to the full." What does "full" mean? The picture that came to my mind was a person who has eaten a big meal--they are full. If one has eaten dinner and is full, he will have no room for dessert or snacks. In contrast, a person who snacks all day is full and has no room for dinner. How does this relate to t.v.? Well, when we allow our children to "snack" all day on the world, they will have no appetite for the things of God. They are "full" on the world and being full is a satisfied feeling. Their spirit is not being fed, but they do not notice it because they are full. These vidoes may not be "bad" in and of themselves, but what are they replacing? Something BETTER--God's Word.

In addition, our children watch these programs and start to emulate these characters. Companies target our children and sell all of the gizmos and gadgets that relate to these shows. I have seen it with my own children. They often act-out things they have seen or quote different lines. This stuff is not benign, it influences their minds because it is embedded there. Instead, shouldn't we be feeding them Scripture so they can quote the things of God not Barney?

What we feed on creates a certain appetite in us for certain things. For example, the more junk food you eat, the more you crave it. The healthier you eat, the more junk food no longer appeals to you. I liken much of what is on t.v. to junk food. The more you watch, the more you want. It may not be "bad", just like goldfish aren't necessarily "bad", but carrot sticks and apples are better and so are the things of God.

When we feed our children the things of God, they will become full and satisfied by God and will not have room for the things of this world. Their appetite for the things of this world diminishes and they have an appetite for the things of God.

So, I no longer allow my children to "snack" all day on the things of this world. We feed on God's word. I read the Bible to them at lunch-a chapter a day. They look forward to it. They remind me. They ask me questions. Cameron also reads to them at dinner--another chapter. We don't use kid's Bible books with the "souped up" stories, often with details that don't exist in the Bible. We read from the Word of God. Do my children complain? Never. They have an appetite for this because this is what they are fed.

Are my children "missing out"? I don't think so. What does t.v teach my children that I can't teach them myself? What does t.v. teach that books can't. I believe that this includes the computer, too.

I do not want my children to have to be "entertained" to learn things. Games are fun, but life is not a game. Learning is not always "fun". We are in an entertainment-saturated society. So many homeschool curriculums I come across promise that school will be so fun that children won't even know they are doing school. WHAT?! How does this benefit a child when they grow up and go to college and it is HARD and WORK and not fun? How does this train a child for a job that is often monotonous and is WORK? What is wrong with a child having to apply themselves to a subject and work?

So . . . this is why we don't watch t.v., and yes, this includes Cameron and I. We don't have cable and up until a few weeks ago, we didn't even have reception. A friend came over on Thanksgiving when Cameron was in Liberia to fix the t.v. so that my kids could watch the parade. What a mistake! Every few mintues Anna and Jonas ran up to tell me that the women were dressed immodestly or that the music was awful etc. etc. They did not enjoy it at all!

Someone once asked us what Cameron and I do if we don't watch t.v. We marveled at that question because we honestly don't have time! There is so much to do, even after our children are in bed. Sometimes, we just talk for hours and then realize that it is past our bedtime. Cameron often has work to do for his job and I am always in the middle of some book.

Maybe you have wanted to limit the t.v. or get rid of it, but think it will be too hard or the kids will complain too much. I would challenge you to ask yourself WHY you are letting your children watch it? Because it is easier than training them to not interrupt? Do you dread hearing them complain? Do you not think it is that bad? But, what better things could they be doing during this time? If your children are in school, how do they have time to watch t.v.? They have been away from you all day--don't you want to spend time with them?

Now, when we do watch a video, we watch it with our children, as a family activity. It is no longer a 1/2 distraction so that Mommy can get something done. Our children are better for it and so am I! :)

In Christ, Laura


Ginny said...

Wow, thanks for posting that Laura. I have been wanting to eliminate video watching for my kids, but was worried that would be "extreme." I have found that whenever I don't let them watch a video for a week or so, no matter what the subject matter, they start playing much more nicely together and don't complain of being bored as often. I think T.V. is awful, and have just realized recently that this applies to adults as well as kids. Over the past year we went from renting a grown up movie about every week, to maybe every month, and now we never do at all. I was disgusted with almost every movie we watched no matter how benign it had seemed when I chose it. I also noticed that we would stay up so late to make time to watch the movie, and then be tired the next day, which was just not worth it. Books and conversation are so much better than T.V. anyday! I am also realizing that I need to be even pickier with the books I allow my children to get from the library. The same "junk food" principal applies there as well! I will probably post about the children's book thing this week, as I have been thinking about it a lot lately. Okay, this is my longest "comment" ever!
Pax Christi,

laura mouro said...

Amen, Ginny! What a coincidence that you posted about the same subject on your blog! I enjoy reading your blog. When do you think your Liberian boys are coming? We are praying for you! Maybe by next summer, we can both attend an Above Rubies family retreat and have all of our children together!

Love in Christ, Laura

Ginny said...

It seems like visas can take forever, but I hope we will have them by next summer, if not sooner.

Lisa Thomas said...

hey...not sure if you'll see this comment b/c i don't know how blogs work and if it tells you when someone comments and i see this is an older post. anyway i found your blog thru erica cooper..i went to school w/ jeremy. she suggested your blog for recipes you might occasionally post for a larger family..anyway, this post was an encouragement to me. we have eliminated tv too but not videos for our kids and it's something i've been husband and i always feel like we are the "weirdos" for not watching tv just seems so much more simple and more pure without it.
anyway, i could ramble but just wanted to say i'm enjoying your blog and the encouragement...