If you ever put your kids on remote control because you have all sorts of "electronic baby-sitters" available to occupy their time, you can say that it really doesn't affect your kids, but if they're still in the process of growing up, how can you be sure?
Despite all of our best intentions as parents, too many of us have adopted the TV and other technologies as a convenient distraction, and even as baby-sitters, for our kids. It is especially easy to do in the busyness of the season, when this time is really supposed to be geared toward family traditions and bonding. Starting at a very young age, though, we have set them up in front of a TV program, a video or a video game so that we can 'get things done.' Or we regularly appease a child who whines until he gets his way to watch a movie that you know has less than godly values. While it seems harmless, it indeed has consequences. By the time you realize your child has been brainwashed with the skewed values these media outlets offer, it may be too late to reverse.
Parents simply cannot entrust their kids into the hands of those whose values are warped and unchecked in the name of entertainment. They must not grant the makers of media free access to their young people anymore. In case you haven't yet noticed, we as a society have leapt off the ledge of moral common sense. The days of mindlessly allowing our kids to be transfixed with the media of their choice are over if we hope to raise this generation with any kind of real moral conscience and wholesome living. Parenting was never supposed to be easy. No one ever called it simple, effortless or painless. "But I don't have time," a parent may say. "I have so many pressures at work; I am trying to provide for my family." It's a seemingly rational explanation, but the question is: Provide your family what? More of the stuff that the media machine is trying to sell? Wouldn't you rather provide a safe, loving environment to impart your values to your kids? The bottom line: parenting equals sacrifice.
It's undeniable that as a parent, you will sacrifice something. You can choose to sacrifice up front: time, sleep, career, hobbies while your kids are small. But I guarantee that you will also reap joy and delight as they grow up. You will gain a lifetime of intimately knowing them and the privilege of helping them grow into seasoned, productive, godly adults. If you don't sacrifice up front, you will sacrifice later. Think about scenarios such as your child getting pregnant (or getting someone pregnant) as a young person, multiple times. Imagine living through your child's divorce (perhaps several times) and playing the visiting game with divorced in-laws for the rest of your life. Can you picture a 35-year-old couch potato camping out on your futon because he can't hold down a job?
Your kids will be old a lot longer than they are young. I know people in the older generation who have had grown kids causing them misery and regret for their entire adult life. Boy, now that is a sacrifice. Even if you do it for purely selfish reasons, sacrificing up front to spend the needed time with your kids in order to raise them well will protect from life-long sacrifice.
During this holiday season seize this family time to invest into you children. You can protect your kids from the disaster of being shaped by a confused generation of adults selling media, but it will take deliberation. It will take sweat. It will require emotional and mental engagement with your kids, starting when they are at a very young age.
You're the only one who can do it. You are the only one who can be your child's mom or dad. There are masses of other people who would love to entertain them; there are plenty others who would be glad to take your money for occupying your children's time and keeping their voices from whining.
But you are the only person who can deposit your values into them. You're the one who has the opportunity to take them on hikes and walks and campouts. You're the only one who can have long talks about your family history and about what the future holds. Lots of other people can take care of them. Lots of other people can give them food and change their diapers. But you are the only mommy and daddy they will ever have.
Merely giving birth does not make you a parent. Sacrificing while your children are small, laying down your "deserved" freedoms and deeply thinking about how you're shaping your children will ensure their lifelong freedom from the chains of slavery to our culture. It's work, and it's called loving your children. It's called being a parent.
This article was adapted from Ron's newest book, Re-Create: Building a Culture in Our Homes That Is Stronger Than the Culture Deceiving Our Kids, released August 1 nationwide.