The cartoon voices I was hearing suddenly changed.
That’s probably a bad way for me to start things off here. Please don’t report me.
The voices I was hearing were coming from my television, not my head. My kids were taking it easy and watching one of their favorite shows. But while I was crawling under the Christmas tree to add some extra water, I noticed that the voices had changed. The characters weren’t the same. My kids were watching an entirely different show.
My first assumption was that some intern down at cartoon headquarters hit the wrong button and switched shows before he was supposed to.
It turns out that I was wrong.
My kids told me that the characters on the show they were watching started talking to spirits and playing around with ouija boards. Now remember, this was a Saturday morning cartoon.
What ever happened to the days when all we had to worry about was the Coyote dropping an anvil on himself?
Something didn’t sit right with my boys. So they changed the channel. Now to be fair, the cartoon they switched to had characters who were farting on each other but I’ll take that over ouija boards any day.
I was proud of my boys for their discernment and I told them so. The decision they had made on their own reminded me of a few important things about parenting.
First, unless you want your kid to be featured on Intervention or Celebrity Rehab one day, don’t use the television as a babysitter. Just because it’s a cartoon doesn’t meant that your kids should be watching it.
Here’s the second lesson. Remain in an open conversation with your kids. When you watch television together and you find garbage, don’t just change the channel. Explain what the problem is. And then change the channel. Do this quickly.
Finally, you can’t and shouldn’t be with your kids at all times. If you are, it will do just as much harm to them as allowing the TV to be their babysitter. At some point, they have to make their own decisions. And those decisions will be based on the way that they see you making your decisions. If you allow the media to spoon feed you whatever it is that they happen to be selling that day, your kids will be down for the same thing. But if they see you questioning the narrative and calling evil what it is, there’s a good chance that they’ll follow in your footsteps.
Our kids won’t always make the right decisions. There will be times when they keep watching what should have never been on in the first place, when they say what they should have kept to themselves and when they do something really, really stupid. Our children, it turns out, are just like us. We all do dumb things.
But when they get something right, you need to let them know.
When I praise one of my sons for doing something right, he usually says the same thing.
“Can I get paid for that?”
We’re a capitalist family.
I always say no when my son asks me that question. There are some things you just do because it’s the right thing to do.
But a parent’s job is more than simply training kids to make right decisions. It goes deeper than that. The job of a parent is to train the hearts of our children to spot foolishness when it pops up. Even if it happens to be during their favorite show.
You can be sure of this. Your kids are growing up in a world of foolishness. Without your instruction, they’ll never know the dangers that are waiting for them. They’ll believe everything every professor, pastor and politician ever tells them. As they get older, the ouija boards are less obvious but they are most certainly still there.
The bad news is that you won’t always be there.
The good news is that your influence can be.