A Nice Alternative
by: Saleama A. Ruvalcaba
Growing up I wanted to be an actress.
I took acting classes. I studied television shows and movies. At baby showers, I would always come in first or almost first in the games dealing with T.V.
I loved watching movies. I loved watching courtroom dramas. I loved cinematography. I loved music scores. I was a total movie buff! I use to work in the film industry, in Hollywood, because that’s how much I loved movies and television.
Okay, well, fast-forward today as a growing Christian and home school parent and I have no idea who wore what. I have no idea who is dating who. I have no idea which television shows are number one, or which movies are big hits.
A few years ago, a man we know asked me and Omar if were going to see the Hunger Games. Me and Omar had no idea what he was talking about. He honestly thought we were joking. Apparently Hunger Games is a huge hit?? (I had to look it up just now to make sure it’s Hunger Games and not Hunter Games)
I am not trying to sound holier than thou when it comes to television. What I want to share with you is because of my insatiable love for television, I can look back and see the negative impact it had in my life. When I became a follower of Jesus Christ, I suddenly became aware of how much bad is on television and how it does more damage to our souls than we think.
Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
The commentary from this verse in my Bible says to “put up boundaries”.
For whatever reason, when something is on television we think it’s okay. We think what we are seeing on television is ‘approved” behavior to duplicate or immaculate which is not true. We need to be careful with the amount of television our children are watching.
A Lie or Truth
One day my oldest son was watching a popular Disney television show. My oldest son is 24-years-old today, so this was about ten years ago. We were brand new Christians at this time. I was walking through the living room when I heard this sentimental conversation going on between a mom and her daughter:
“Mom, when is it okay to tell a lie?”
“Well, honey, you have to discern the situation so you can know if it’s better to lie or tell someone the truth.”
Leviticus 19:11 “Do not steal, Do not lie, Do not deceive one another.”
I could not believe my ears. I told my son to turn it off immediately.
You might be saying, what’s the best deal, we need to teach our children right from wrong anyway and not shelter them from everything.
I agree to a point.
The problem is we cannot sit down and watch every television show with our children in order to pick up all the life lessons. Let’s just keep it real. We are busy people, and more times than not, children will end up watching television without supervision. It’s possible they will pick up bad behavior from what they are seeing on television.
It’s one thing if the show had a situation about lying but made the point that lying is bad. No. Here the mother encouraged her child to lie.
These types of scenarios are happening a lot on television so we need to carefully pay attention to what our children are watching.
Have you ever noticed that almost always television and movies promote sibling name calling and rivalry? When I was in the ninth grade I went to see a very popular movie. This movie is considered a Christmas classic today. The bothers in the film were mean to each other. In one scene, the younger brother asked the older brother for help with something. The older brother told him, no, in a crass and vulgar manner. EVERYONE in the movie theater started laughing hysterically.
At home the next day, I began to repeat it to my sister.
Why not? It was funny, right? Everyone in the movie theater laughed. The movie was a huge hit! It’s only a movie, right?
Well, my sister did not find my behavior funny.
She was hurt.
Again, we can say it’s only a movie and children need to learn, but the bottom is, I picked up bad behavior from going to a movie, in which my parents did not make sure was okay for me to watch. I repeated bad behavior to my sister and my sister ended up with REAL hurt.
Back to my oldest son. When he was about ten, a scary commercial for an upcoming Halloween movie appeared on the television. This commercial scared him so much he had to sleep in our room for a year (no joke). This was only a commercial.
Our family has a television to watch sports, (Omar is a huge football and sports fan), so it’s really the only reason we still have a television. But when sports programming is on we mute the commercials to take the attention away from the television. If a commercial can have that type of impact on a child, imagine what other impacts it can have while watching it for hours.
We might want to defend our choice to watch television and movies, but there is no ignoring it. Television has more bad than good.
Let’s say you come to my house and I give you a piece of cake. As you are about to eat it, what if I tell you 3/4’s of the cake was baked with manure? But 1/4 was okay. Would you say the 1/4 is okay and eat it?
We need to pay close attention to what our children are watching on television.
What Are Some Better Options?
As I am typing this, it’s raining outside and my homeschoolers are done with school for the day. They are in our living room playing kickball with a plastic ball. I have heard that ball knock into my pictures and plants several times!
But I hear laughter and joy more than anything. I hear team work and strategy.
I make them play with each other a lot. The middle four are, one boy, 13, and three girls, 12, 9, and 4, and we make them play together all the time. I have explained to them why I dislike the use of Ipad and television. I think about how television can make us drift off into our own world. I think about their future. I think about how Omar and his brothers are not close as adults. My prayer is that because we limit their television and make them play together, they will grow into adults who have close relationships.
I did not think I was a great student as a child, but there was one thing I was good at – reading. In fifth grade, I remember my teacher would use me as the example. I was told I had outstanding expression and excitement while reading aloud. As a home school mom today, that is one skill I try to utilize often – reading aloud.
Remember when your baby loved to hear your voice reading to him or her? Your children will still enjoy hearing you read them a wonderful story.
I am currently reading them a children’s classic. It’s a great time for me to take a break from everything I am always doing, spend time with them, read to them a classic, all while helping to develop their comprehension.
When children have stories read to them it can help them learn proper expressions while reading. Reading and being read to also helps children develop their imagination. While watching television, children do not have to think too much because the entire story is being told to them on screen. The story is moving fast and it doesn’t give them a chance to use their imagination. Whereas, when reading or having a story read to them they have to visualize the setting. They can smell the warm apple pie right out of the oven. They’ll feel the pain of a lost dog as “John” searches frantically through the damp, cold, windy trees, for his best buddy.
Reading is a great alternative to watching so much television.
Other notables: go see a family oriented musical, go for a walk, play in dirt, make a science project, bake (learn how to use measurements).
Pay close attention to the amount of time your child is on social media, and television. Find creative ways for them to use their brain power. Draw, write stories, play (make believe), dance, sports.
It’s no secret that I am not a huge “fan” of television. I truly believe without being careful it can make us believe bad behavior is okay. It promotes violence in an already violent world. We idolize celebrities who live immoral lives.
There are some wonderful programming out there created by people who truly understand the dangers of simply watching any and everything on television. We love it when we find a wonderful Christian family movie!
I am not suggesting that our family is a perfect family, but I am suggesting that we try very hard to make sure we are honoring God each day in the way we raise HIS children.
“Be careful little eyes what you see.”
1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
-Saleama A. Ruvalcaba
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