Our Job is to Protect Our Children’s Innocence | One Mom’s Opinion

I can remember the first horror film I watched was when I was a third- or fourth-grader. The plot line was about a man who moved into a haunted house, and then he uncovers all the horror that happened there. I’m scarred for life, seriously. Who let me watch that? (Sorry, Mom and Dad, but it’s true.) I thought about that movie many times over the years. It didn’t leave me. That movie (and others that followed) brought fears and dark thoughts.

I’m sure at the time I begged to watch it and other movies I also still remember—those with sex and violence and foul language. When I was a kid, MTV and HBO had just shown up on the scene. Television was no longer a “safe” place . . . and I was drawn to all the smut. What kid isn’t? I wanted to feel grown-up. I liked being scared and having my heart race at both romance and danger.
The thing is, as a kid, I didn’t know what to do with buds of the sinful desires that were also stirred up. Sure, I’d watch Fraggle Rock during the day, but at night when my friends were staying over, we’d turn the TV down and watch movies I’m too embarrassed to name. Then there were the popular songs at the time. How many times could one sing “Like a Virgin” by Madonna without the words making an impact? (I’m sure glad that I didn’t grow up with the Internet; kids today have many more temptations!)
So where did that leave me? At thirteen when I got my first boyfriend, my innocence was already gone—or at least that’s what it felt like. So when I started dating a handsome, older boyfriend, getting caught up in the emotion was easy. After all that’s what those people on those movies did.
I don’t think I consciously made an effort to surrender my innocence. It was never that simple. By the time my boyfriend gave me my first kiss my innocence had been stripped away one movie, one lusty song at a time. I didn’t have a sense of should I do this? Instead, I thought finally. After all those years of watching “romance,” I finally was experiencing a bit of it myself.
As a mom, I went to the extreme with protecting my kids, or so some people thought. They couldn’t listen to secular music, and I monitored all their television. They couldn’t watch Jurassic Park until they were in junior high, and Wizard of Oz was pretty much off limits until then.
I even homeschooled my kids so I could be the gatekeeper of what entered their lives. I’m thankful I did. My intention at the time may have been to protect my kids’ innocence, but the close relationships built during those years—and mostly their relationships with God—are our reward.

If you’re familiar with my blog and read “Breaking out of the Christian Bubble,” you may be confused because in it I mention that we need to step out of our Christian circles and impact the world. I believe that. There’s a difference between my daughter accidentally overhearing a conversation between two pregnant teens than me allowing a movie with sexually promiscuity into our home. If you’ve reached out to and are walking with others, in a dirty world you’re going to get messy at times. Though we should model grace and compassion for our kids, we should never risk their innocence for the sake of entertainment.

Did protecting my kids’ innocence work? No and yes. In their growing-up years they still watched things they shouldn’t (when I didn’t know), and one of my children as a teen found a way to get around some of the safety protections we set up on the Internet and was drawn into places this teen should never have been. So I wasn’t able to protect my kids completely. But in many ways they were allowed to stay kids longer. Their minds weren’t filled with the smut, and it gave more room for God’s word and a relationship with Jesus to grow.
Protecting your child’s innocence may call you to higher standards for yourself. You might even need to make sacrifices of money and time (especially if God calls you to homeschooling, too). But know that your effort will pay off. We only have a short season when we’re able to protect our children. Don’t let the world’s standards influence you. Instead turn to God for strength and wisdom for guidance in leading your kids toward all things pure.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
“I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. I hate all who deal crookedly; I will have nothing to do with them.” Psalm 101:3 (NLT)



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Comments

  1. I LOVE this post! Yes, I totally agree. I, too, watched waaay too many horror flicks (w/out my parents’ knowledge), and those stuck w/me, giving me nightmares even into my marriage. I always say, once it’s on the HARD DRIVE of our brain, it can’t be “unseen.” So I’m very choosy w/any scary stuff w/my kids. I’ll admit I do let my son play shooting video games, b/c I enjoy them myself (I’m a weird mom). But anytime it gets too bloody/graphic, we don’t do that game. Our kids also know they can’t date till they’re 16 or in college, so it takes the pressure off having to find a “boy/girl friend” at a younger age (which I did, and wasted lots of time). Once again, this is an awesome post, Tricia!

  2. I totally believe that what we watch becomes a part of us. We take in fear, smut and so forth. I wish I would have protected my children more. I did try but not enough. People even ridiculed me for being overly religious… “what’s the harm its just a movie” a book or whatever… But these things are indeed harmful and unhealthy. Yes, we need to protect our child’s innocence and carefully lead them into adulthood. At the same time, we should not lead them in fear, but in love using the fruits of the spirit.

    • When people ridicule us we need to ask ourselves, “Does this person have our children’s best interest in mind?” Most of the time the answer is no. Thanks for your comment!

  3. I agree heartily to what you are saying. This is a great post. You did a great job of the ‘in the world not of the world’ that is now being tarnished in today’s church. You gave your children substance by having them participate in the healing of sins. Not watching the world play out on TV, Movies and in Songs, they do not teach substance. Walking with real people does.

  4. This is a great post… very well written as well. 🙂

    It’s “funny” to read this. I grew up in a very strict Christian household and, to this day, I still think it was too strict. I maintained some of what you mentioned with my oldest daughter and do my best with my youngest ones although I haven’t homeschooled so it is a fight against today’s child.

    I don’t recall the first scary movie I watched. I actually love horror, mystery and murder and whatnot… so it’s “funny” (I think this is my point. LOL) that it doesn’t bother me. Made me wonder what that means especially in relation to the scripture you left us with.

    Because I was the type of child who ran straight to everything I shouldn’t right after I left home I made some differences in how I raise my children. Me and my oldest daughter are very close… I’m rambling… LOL

    I guess I said all of that to say your post left me thinking. I don’t disagree, but do I agree 100 percent? Hmmm… wish I knew the answer to that. Thanks, Tricia!

  5. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you so much for sharing and for encouraging me to continue to doing what I am doing!

    Blessings,
    Lisa

    http://www.moretobe.com

  6. Oh my friend – you have hit the nail on the head. We’ve been struggling in our own home with our teens not guarding their eyes like they should. It’s so easy to become desensitized and that is what the enemy wants. Thank you for the great reminder.

  7. Bravo. Protecting your children while they grow up helps them see clearly once they are grown.
    Margie Sims

  8. Thank you, friends! It’s great we can all keep each other accountable! Our families will be stronger because of it!

  9. So the comment about the protected kid running to all they were sheltered from worries me. I am very protective of my son’s but I have recently agreed to the first 3 Harry Potter books and movies because of this very reason. I don’t want my kids to just think I didn’t let them do anything they wanted. It’s so hard to find the line and then stock to it. It’s exhausting. But this post is great and rinds me why I’m being protective. Thanks!

  10. Our childhoods sound so similar! I vividly remember watching the “Like a Virgin” and “Private Dancer” videos late at night during a slumber party … and I was 9. My husband and I just had this conversation last night; the idea of protection really solidified our decision to homeschool our young children.

  11. Christine L. says:

    I too agree. The focus that my husband and I have for our children is one where we slowly open the door to the outside world but only after the child has demonstrated a habit of being able to observe a situation and make wise choices in how they handle it. They have rarely been thrust into something they were not prepared for in some way.
    My oldest (almost 13) still has a love of legos, action figures, and dirt. Whereas some might see immaturity, I see a young man who is untainted by sex, violence, and vulgarity. He uses his imagination, is gentle with his brothers, and is diligently working towards his independence. I can’t think of a single horrible thing that I went through as a child that made me a better person that I “need” to expose my kids to. They’ll find out what the world looks like soon enough. My goal is to make sure they can handle the deception and the ugliness while finding the truth and the beauty that is still there.

  12. Thank you for this Tricia! My kids are now at the same age (8 &10) that I was when my best friend’s older sister started talking to us about sex. It opened up so many things that I was not ready to comprehend and couldn’t understand. Along with that, my parents never really talked to me about sex… they just said, “Don’t do it until you’re married.” But what I heard from my friend’s sister and what I saw on TV told a totally different story. It’s hard to be the mom that says no to sleepovers, and a million other things that “everyone else is doing” but their innocence is so important to my husband and me.

    • “It opened up so many things that I was not ready to comprehend and couldn’t understand.”

      This is so true. i seriously don’t understand why schools are starting sex education when they are so young. i’m an Early Childhood Education Major, and I read an article about a school that wanted to incorporate sex education in Kindergarten classes! First of all, I am NOT going to be sending my kid to a school that is going to be teaching them about that so young. Second, you are right. They aren’t going to be able to comprehend and understand what is being said to them. I don’t even think sex education is the school’s responsibility. It’s the parents’ responsibility.

  13. Thank you for posting about this. I’ve often felt very alone in my stance when it comes to my role as ‘protector’ of my children. For the most part, parents think that censorship is a 4 letter word. And Christians too! We’ve literally been mocked for not allowing our children to watch super hero movies and things we just think they are way too young for. When push comes to shove, we measure our media choices against the word of God, not the word of Culture. Blessings! Cassandra @ http://www.theunpluggedfamily.com

  14. Yes! This is so important to me! We need to let kids stay kids–let them be little.

    Like I learned from Christy Miller & Sierra Jensen…”don’t awaken love till the proper time.” This is true of romantic love and of other things that are too old for kids (humor, violence, etc.)

    Thank you for the beautiful post!

  15. Kimberly W says:

    Woohoo! I heartily agree and am so blessed to hear of so many others out there that I stand shoulder with! It’s been about 15 years since my husband and I ditched our tv and see the fruit of that choice blooming in our sons life now. We have a 9 yr old and 1 yr old son. My husband is an elementary public school teacher and our decision to homeschool our kids has been due largely in part to what he hears and sees firsthand. Others often don’t understand our restrictions but I think it often has to do with their own desensitization. I come from a Christian home where one parent was lenient and one was not. I have often thought of how much love I actually felt through the restrictions of the one parent and have wished that the lenient parent would have understood that boundaries are a safe place of love to grow …I too could have avoided sooo much pain. Thank you for your post!

  16. Right on! This is SO important to me. Wonderful post!

    Meghan
    http://www.thetuckerstaketennessee.com

  17. I wholeheartedly agree with you! My parents homeschooled me and we didn’t have a TV in our house. We only got internet in my teens, and then it was dial-up internet (seriously SLOW). I was very innocent when I started college (some of my friends laughed when they used phrases or terms that I wasn’t familiar with), but I still think that innocence was a good thing. My parents had raised me with a strong set of values, a strong grounding in the Bible, and that served me well. I thank them for it.

  18. Tricia,
    I couldn’t agree with you more. How timely this post is, too! I rented a movie to watch with my boys (ages 6 and 3) last week and while rated PG, I was horrified at the language in it. I have always been choosy about what they are exposed to because, like you, I want to protect them for as long as I can. But I’m going to have to be even more vigilant. PG ain’t what it used to be.

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