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iApprove: The Barna Group.

February 22, 2009

For some reason, it always feels awkward to make a post on a Sunday.  It’s probably because I’ve grown accustomed to Sundays consisting of long, exhausting hours commuting to and from church (and the meetings in between), followed by an afternoon of feeling too tired to do anything.  Getting something accomplished – a blog post, for example – doesn’t fit so well into that itinerary.

Anyway…

The other day, I found an interesting site: The Barna Group.  It’s a Christian site dedicated to collecting statistics about Christians.  For example, 50% of a surveyed group (and possibly all Americans) believe that Christianity is no longer a default faith for people.  88% of evangelical born-again Christians voted for John McCain.

But here’s my favorite: Christian Parents Are Not Comfortable With Media But Buy Them For Their Kids Anyway.

According to studies, a large percentage of Christians who bought things for their children such as movies, music CDs, video games, and mobile phone downloads were not comfortable (!) with the content of the things they had purchased.  (Depending on the nature of the stuff purchased, between one quarter and two-thirds had misgivings about the things they had gotten for their kids.)

What I’d like to know is, wazzup? Why do parents (Christian parents especially) buy things for their kids when they’re worried about the content?  Do they even bother to look at the games before they buy them?  Why are they giving into their kids’ demands when what they should be doing is teaching their children to avoid that kind of content?

My mother raised two teenage daughters, and not once did we ask for something with questionable content.  In fact, when I was about thirteen or fourteen, we made a group-agreed decision to get rid of our Harry Potter books on account of the pseudo-witchcraft therein.  (I do kind of regret that now, because they were awesome books and I was fully intelligent enough to realize that witchcraft was Not Cool, but the point is that we understood why she didn’t want to keep them around, and we agreed with that.)  If you’re going to raise morally-sound kids – Christian or otherwise – you have to take an active role in shaping their tastes.  Let them know what kind of entertainment is acceptable and what isn’t.

Don’t just ban stuff from your house for no reason, though; explain to them why something is bad.  They’ll probably get it and as they get older they’ll probably learn to accept and even agree with it.

One of the most undervalued parenting skills of our time is the ability to Just Say No.  We need to learn that our children do not need to have everything they want, no matter how they plead for it.  If they ask for something damaging, be it movies with inappropriate content or junk food, tell them no, tell them why, and stand firm.  Both of you will be much better off.

(And don’t save this for their older years – start refusing them things when they’re young.  This may sound barbaric, but it’s very important.  Don’t refuse them everything; just say no often enough to let them know that they won’t always get their way.)

If you’re interested in more cool statistics, bop over to http://www.barna.org/

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