Protecting Your Child from “Soul Poison”
There are some decent, even values-oriented things on television for children these days. But, as you know very well, there’s a lot of garbage, too. And in between those two extremes, there are shows that are mostly good but have some words scattered in them that little ears shouldn’t be hearing – or big ears, for that matter. Along comes a service called TV Guardian – which automatically replaces a naughty word with a nice word, thus removing what could be bad for your child. Occasionally, the replacements are actually a little amusing. Like the word “sex,” for example. The replacement word is “hugs.” Which gets a little interesting when someone asks, “So what will be the hugs of your baby?” But I do think TV Guardian is a pretty good idea.
Something like TV Guardian was invented for parents who realize a very important assignment that they have; to protect their children from anything that could harm them. Of course, a parent is going to protect their son or daughter from physical harm – like getting too close to the edge of a cliff or running onto the Interstate. But Mom and Dad have no less a responsibility for protecting their kids from things that can hurt their soul. And there’s a lot of soul poison out there.
There is a ten-word challenge that underscores where the front lines of the battle are for any life – including that of your children. Proverbs 4:23 begins with these attention-getting words, “Above all else…” Then these ten words – “Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” In other words, be careful about what gets into your heart – or into your child’s heart – because it is the reservoir from which everything else flows.
Yes, one front in the battle for a child’s pure heart is related to what they listen to and watch. It’s amazing how we will allow someone to portray right in our living room, on TV, DVD, or Netflix, things we would never, ever allow to be done in our living room – sexually, for example. We allow comedy into our home and into their heart that trivializes sin that ruins lives; not realizing that our kids are learning to laugh about things that are eternally serious. No matter what the parental peer pressure of what other parents are allowing and what the culture says is “must see” stuff, we’ve got to stand our ground on not allowing our kids to mentally eat out of the garbage can.
But guarding their heart is so much bigger than TV or movies or music. It’s about the poison that comes from us. The bitterness they’re learning by listening to us, the anger, the self-centeredness, the putdowns of other people, the names they hear us call people, the prejudice they hear in the way we talk about others, the disrespect they hear us expressing toward people at work, at church – or even toward their Mother or Father. That’s more deadly poison than anything the media can pump out. Our precious children need “Parent Guardian” – to protect them from the poison that they see modeled in living color by a Mom or Dad.
The DVR in your son’s or daughter’s heart is always recording. It’s always capturing what it hears, and the impressions are shaping who they’re becoming. You are the guardian, assigned to your child by God, to protect that young heart from poison and infection – even if (especially if) it’s coming from you.
One undesirable trait I see in my child that reminds me of myself is… One thing I could do to help them and me grow in that area is…
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
“I will sing of your love and justice; to you, Lord, I will sing praise. I will be careful to lead a blameless life— when will you come to me? I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart. I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it. The perverse of heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with what is evil. Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate. My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me. No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence. Every morning I will put to silence all the wicked in the land; I will cut off every evildoer from the city of the Lord.”
Psalm 101:1-8 NIV