What I Learned From Movies Growing Up

So, let’s process this together, shall we?

I have felt in my spirit this desire to REVOLT against the system of this world, and obviously there are people like me in every generation…many of you reading this are those very people. We want to raise our children differently, we want to stop the “slow fade” that happens when we let sin creep in little by little so slowly that it goes undetected, we want to hold our decisions up to the standard of the Word at the risk of looking old fashioned and “under the law”…right?
Well, I brought up a lot of different ideas and issues there, but I want to talk about what we teach our kids and invite into their (and our) minds with the stuff placed in front of their eyes and ears, both good and bad and in-between. What goes in our eyes and ears makes it into our thought life. What makes it into our thought life is often repeated, making certain thoughts habitual, and those thoughts of course affect how we feel and what we even believe about life, ourselves, others, God, what we deserve and expect, everything. We don’t even realize it usually, but we were forced to realize it when our daughter Selah was just about 2 years old.
We had all the Disney princess movies and watched all kinds of movies as long as they didn’t have cussing, violence, or blatant sensuality, I thought they were no big deal. I watched them growing up, and I was fine, right? Not really. Let me tell you what most of the movies and after-school-teenager- type TV shows did for me… and what they started to do for my daughter who as luck would have it is twice as sensitive as even I am. (And I am super sensitive.)
I learned from these shows and movies which were totally G rated that it was okay to disobey my father because he was just being overprotective. I learned it was okay to go behind his back and date guys he was wise enough to say no to for me when I didn’t have the maturity to say no to them for myself. It won’t take you long to think about which Disney movies in particular promote this!! And of course those movies, in the end, confirm that the daughter was right to rebel and run off to chase the man of her dreams instead of living under the protection and authority of her dad.
I learned that I needed to be uber-beautiful and desirable with tiny feet, fabulous hair, and a 24 inch waist. I learned that this was very important…to be prettier than average, and if you weren’t, you weren’t special. People would still love you and find good things to praise you for, but there was something extra special about being extra beautiful. There were just a few who got this honor.
I learned that it was okay to watch scary things, even watching people or characters die. I learned it was okay to feel scared and go to bed thinking about it, giving a foothold, almost literally, for the enemy to climb in and do what he does to so many kids through nightmares…mainly because even though the images aren’t as violent as we adults know violence can be, it is stuff little minds just cannot process and so their brain will process all night long if need be.
I want to be honest in saying that the most damage that was done were these two things: One, I learned that the most valuable relationship for a girl to have would be with the boy who chose and loved her. How many of these princesses even have friends who are girls??? There is no focus on the development of any other relationships really. How warped is that–its like we are telling our daughters through habitually watching movies with romantic themes that they have one goal in life and that is to get a man to choose her and love her. (And once he does, even though they hardly know each other, all her problems are resolved because they live happily ever after.) This is dangerous for SO many reasons! First of all, that’s not why we were created! Second, what if it’s not even God’s plan for that daughter to have a husband? She has been set up for misery from day one. Third…that’s coming up next.
The second damaging thing was: I learned from watching these movies and shows how to be utterly incapable of just being simply buddies with a male. How many of these princesses have a boy character in the movie who is truly just a friend with no innuendos and no foreshadowing to what they may be??? Other than Tinkerbell, I honestly cannot think of one. Every guy from 12 years old up was a potential something to me. That’s a hard habit to break when that’s how you’ve viewed guys up until marriage…And of course we can’t leave our young men out here. I can’t even begin to imagine what we’re teaching our sons about how to view and choose a woman of true beauty, and how to view every female they meet up until marriage. Whew.
So…it feels good to process all of that, because I want to be mindful and aware of how the enemy sneaks in and steals purity. He knows we hate blatant sexual stuff, violence, nasty language–he knows we have the sense to not let our kids watch that. But what about the message that is coming from our and their “favorites”?
I have a couple of suggestions…One, we don’t just cut off internet and netflix from our houses necessarily (unless God is telling you to!) We sit down as a family and set our standards. Two, we make checks and balances to make sure everyone is kept accountable and we stick to our standards. I know on netflix there’s no way to erase the “Recently Watched” so there is accountability there. We can have passwords on our computers or keep the computer in the living room where there are more people. Three, we definitely do not let the kids watch TV or even a video completely alone (unless it’s a tried and true favorite that we have screened for all these issues). Maybe as adults we should also be careful about what we watch alone!! I think I have gotten sloppy in what I allow into my mind. I have my standards I won’t cross but there’s a very good chance they are not strict enough. With the kids for sure we need to be there with at least one ear and one eye on the media so we can pause it and talk about stuff to needs to be discussed (or fast forward or turn it off completely!) Maybe they will surprise us and say, “Mom or Dad, I actually don’t think I should be watching this based on those standards we set the other day!” I think this is where we go past the old thing of sheltering them but never explaining the protection and the reason behind it. We want to save them from images, thoughts, habits, fear, sin, wrong expectations of relationships and life and themselves because everything they take in is making our/their worldview and let’s face it, for many of us either now or in the past, haven’t seen how seriously invaded our/their minds are. Four, I really think that watching a show or movie once isn’t the end of the world (unless its just terrible). Its more of the “my kids watch this on repeat” or “this is her favorite movie, I let her watch it every day”…oh my gosh. I’m not sure there is a single movie on the planet, except for maybe Veggie Tales, that I would let my kids watch that often now that I know what I now and am clued in to how we “become what we consume”. And if we don’t become it, we wish we could.
So, maybe I’ll sleep better tonight having processed through this. I have so much to learn but I am so glad God is making me more aware. Good night!

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