Raising Christian children in a world saturated with media violence and an "anything goes" ethic toward life choices is challenging. Today's parents aren't the only people dealing with a dangerous world. Remember that in "the good old days," Christian parents had to deal with societal evils such as slavery and racial discrimination. Children who learn to love God and their neighbor and who see their religion practiced daily will learn to "be in the world, but not of it."
Many Christian parents are concerned about the programs aired on TV, the accessibility of inappropriate websites, and song lyrics that contain overt references to sex and violence. One solution to part of this problem is to eliminate TV and computer access, especially where small children are concerned. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages TV watching for any amount of time for children who are younger than 2 years of age. As children get older, Christian parents must carefully monitor media consumption and engage in dialogues with their children about the content of movies, TV, video games, books and songs.
Friends are a tricky concern. On the one hand, you don't want your children learning attitudes and behaviors that don't align with the Christian values you are teaching them. On the other hand, Christians are not called to separate themselves from the world, but should "be a light" to others. Get to know your child's friends so you can always maintain an open dialogue about situations that arise. Ensure that your child has a mixture of friends. Christian friends can help your child to grow strong in the faith.
While Jesus said "... all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword," this does not mean that Christian children cannot learn to be assertive. Part of living in a dangerous world is learning to recognize treacherous settings and deal with them effectively. Teach your children to say "no" when necessary and to feel free to walk away from strangers who make them feel uncomfortable.
4. Living Your Values
It's not effective to closely monitor your children's TV consumption if you spend three or four hours each evening parked in front of the screen. Following the saying, "Do what I say, not what I do," will result in children hiding unwanted behavior from you but secretly feeling that the behavior is OK. If you believe that Christian children should live according to biblical principles, as a parent, you must do the same yourself. Teach your children how to live according to Jesus' example and spend time helping to feed the poor, clothe the needy and otherwise show your community God's love as a family.
- Pediatrics: Media Use by Children Younger Than 2 Years
- Christianity Today: My New Friends Aren't Christians
- New American Standard Bible: Matthew 26:52
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