Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Chink in the Armor

Subtitled: People in glass houses.... 

Last week I found myself verbally finding fault with the way other people raise their children.  Not one particular person, but a general group, by saying something to the effect of, "How could they not see the affects of such and such choice?" I passed judgment, and I should know better. Throwing stones always ends up biting me in the butt.

The chickens came to roost over the weekend when I learned I had made a huge parenting mistake. I allowed my own desires to corrupt my child. Sounds serious, doesn't it? The child I "ruined" is an adult child, so I don't think I ruined him for life or anything, and I probably didn't expose him to anything he hasn't experienced in his journeys out into the big bad world. Nevertheless, there was a chink in the protective armor of my mothering, and my son was nicked by the sword of our culture. That fact really stings because I have been so, so careful keeping my children protected as long as I could.

The mistake was simple -- easily made -- but not easily fixed. I always say to my children, about their television viewing and internet surfing, "Once you've seen or heard something bad, you can't make it go away. You can't go back and do it over."

We are members of Netflix, and I learned this past weekend that I have not been scrupulous in my choices of entertainment for my husband and I. We don't watch R rated movies, but occasionally PG-13 rated movies make it to our queue, and occasionally I don't check these out thoroughly before they make it in the mail.

This past weekend there was a new movie sitting around -- Date Night. I can't remember why I put it in our queue, but I did, and the movie arrived in the mail late last week. I didn't think anything of it, having it lying around the family room waiting for an opportunity to watch it in the evening. My 19-year-old son saw the DVD around and because it was rated PG-13( he thinks he is old enough for carte blanche with PG-13 movies, even though his mom says he's not) and because it features one of his favorite funny guys, Steve Carell, he watched it late Saturday night on the portable DVD player he took to his room. On Sunday evening, I went looking for the DVD to pop it in for Doug and I, and I couldn't find it. After searching and searching I decided it might be prudent to ask the boys, and Joshua did, in fact, have it.

When he gave it back to me with a sheepish smile I had a thought that maybe this movie was not appropriate for a child (because though he is 19, he is still very much my child). After about five minutes of the movie I realized I was right, and after 30 minutes Doug and I decided to turn it off. It was verbally crude and raunchy (though not visually graphic) and I was just plain embarrassed that I had reserved it. My husband, who is not normally embarrassed by crude humor, even made a snide comment about "nice choice." Ouch. The worst part of the movie was that is completely misrepresented married life in an ugly, ugly way.

This may not seem like a big deal to you, especially if you have young children who are not "at risk" from worldly corruption. But as a mother, I felt that I had really let my family down. I personally brought trash into my home and accidentally exposed my child. It was I, the mom who blocks ninety percent of the cable channels that come into our home. It was I, the mom who guards the computer, not just with net nannies, but with my own eyes, only allowing them access to the computer when I am supervising. It was I, the mom who checks out every movie they ask to see, reading parental reviews and nixing movies for the slightest depravity. It was I, the mom who homeschooled, in part to protect them until they were formed enough in faith in God to face what our culture has to offer. It was I, and only because of my own desires, that risked demoralising my own son.

I have beaten myself up over the past few days, but now I have decided that I must move on and be more vigilant than ever.  You see, on my refrigerator is a saying that I firmly believe, but failed to act on. It says:
Christ is the center of our home,
a guest at every meal, 
and a silent listener to every conversation.

I truly believe this statement to be true, but I should be embarrassed at that which I have exposed Our Lord. We're not potty mouths, we don't view pornography, or graphic violence. But I failed to strive for perfection, that which Our Lord, and my family, should have. I let just enough of the filthy world into my house, that I shamed myself in front of my family, and in front of my God.

I have made a vow to be more vigilant, and to make some changes at home to help make Christ a more evident part of our daily life. Not just with prayer, or faith formation, but with constant reminders that He is with us. This is a touchy topic with teens, I have learned. If I preach, they roll their eyes, if not literally, then figuratively. But I think there is a way to give them gentle reminders that Jesus is with us, and I'm not just talking about hanging a crucifix in each room. Our children, especially our older children, need more than a reminder of Our Father, and Our Redeemer on the cross. They need reminders of a living Lord, who was man, who walked among us. Our children live in such a visual and surround-sound culture, they need to see Jesus, hear Jesus, in order to feel Jesus.

I am brainstorming some ideas that I plan to implement at home (or things that I already do but plan to make more noticeable), but I would love to hear your thoughts as well. I will write another post addressing these ideas, so stay tuned....

Edited to add: Continued here.



  1. Be a that strong mama that I know you are. My kids want this or that...I say NO. Simply because I will stand before God someday and will be accountable. DO YOU WANT ME TO GO TO HELL KIDS??? sometimes this works. I dont say the hell part...but someday I might!

    I figure if you feed them boys good and make them feel loved at home that cannot compare to the stinky single boys in their icky apts. keep'em coming home!

  2. first, before I forget, I love that bit of spring you have on your header picture. I'm longing for spring...

    I am embarrassed to say we also had that movie, we thought it was Steve Carell and well, you know, it must be funny.

    It wasn't. It was so stupid. It was raunchy and I'm even more embarrassed we didn't turn it off. I think if either of us would have said "let's turn it off" we both would have agreed. I think we thought it would get better. I'm sorry to say it only got worse. Embarrassingly worse.

    I don't have to worry about kiddos getting the movies and watching them, but it is an eye opener to what's to come. My kids are so innocent right now.

    I do know a woman who will only watch what her children can watch. I think this is something to aspire to. Who's to say something PG-13 is ok for me, if it's not ok for kids?

    I'm weak
    I give into the world with this thing.

    It's a learning experience, don't beat yourself too much, he is that adult (even though he's still your child) and he made the decision to watch the whole thing. He's responsible.

    Pray and God will take care of the rest.

  3. Powerful post. I'm afraid I've unintentionally exposed my older kids to things I wish I hadn't, too. It's true that it's not the end of the world, but it is a powerful reminder to renewed vigilance.

  4. Are you familiar with the Conference of Catholic Bishops' media review site? (USCCB for short) Here's their review of the movie Date Night: http://www.usccb.org/movies/d/datenight.shtml

    I love this website. They're my go-to guys when my older kids ask about movies. :)

    And here's something interesting that I just noticed. They changed their A-IV rating to L--"Limited Adult Audience" for films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling.

    In other words, many adults, though not all.

    This makes sense to me. We are all so different when it comes to what we can & won't watch. For example, I am hyper-sensitive to sexually-explicit scenes (we're talking movies for my husband & me here) but can quite easily sit through a war movie such as Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers. In college, I walked out on a showing of The Graduate because the whole thing with adultery FREAKED ME OUT.

    I've since relaxed...a bit. I can think of two other movies that I walked out on: Amelie (because of the porn shop scene) and Cold Mountain (the scene where the guy pointed the gun at the crying baby--don't know if I was pregnant at the time but also COULD NOT HANDLE that one.)

    Yet, I'm sure some of your readers are very different from me--not as sensitive or prudish, perhaps, or way more intolerant of violence. That is why our personal culpability is personal, and also why watching the portrayal of sin--i.e. humans being humans--doesn't mean that we ourselves are guilty of that sin.


    It's an important discussion and one that my husband & I have often because I LOVE movies and will even let my sons--ages 13 & 11--watch R-rated movies if we feel they're meritorious. I watched Gladiator with them, for example. "Show them what Rome was like before Christianity," my husband said, "Before the colleges brainwash them into thinking Christianity is wrong."

    (A non-issue, in my opinion, as I certainly hope my kids will be going to good Catholic schools.)

    (But you get his point.)

    As far as the crude humor of Date Night is concerned, yeah, your son shouldn't have watched it but he did and he'll survive. Like Christine said, better to have him exposed to these things at home than in a dorm room. He'll see & hear much worse, Barbara--that's the nature of our fallen world, and it's our job to talk (and pray) them through it.

    Above all, keep the lines of communication open. You feel you made a mistake and perhaps you did, but don't make too big a deal out of it. You're human. Let your son see that.

    Stepping off my soapbox now! Can you tell that I miss blogging? :)

  5. I like what Margaret said . . . as for me, reading this post . . . well, you aren't wrong in doing your best to be so very careful . . . In my home, I have not and (although this post wasn't meant to shame me at all) . . . I feel a bit ashamed of myself. THAT IS NOT A BAD THING! If I didn't feel embarrassed for things I chose/choose to do, I lack conscience which is bad!

    The worst film we watched and the kids were watching? Burn After Reading. NOT A GOOD FILM AT ALL really. I do not know what I was thinking but when a certain "chair scene" came up . .. we were scrambling to shut it down and shoo the kids out. We can handle the language to an extent - not constantly crude. Many films unfortunately fall into the constant category.

    As I have gotten older (and hopefully closer to God), I find much of this telly and cinema stuff a waste of my time and money. We rarely go to the cinema any longer - it's less shocking to waste $4 on a rental if we have to turn it off.

    Anyway, don't keep feeling bad about this, keep moving forward!

    I think you are a terrific lady!!!

  6. Wow, I really like what Margaret wrote about it being personal as to what we watch, so very true. I have a friend who lets her kiddos watch shows like CSI (all of them) and evening adult shows like that. I'm talking 8 years and under. I cringe at some of those shows, wouldn't want to ever let my kiddos watch those.

    Channel 2 for them, that's it.
    Tom and Jerry, Pink Panther great shows for them!

    Movies for us, same as Margaret, we don't like shows with sex at all, but will watch war or action movies with cussing and swearing. I always whisper under my breath "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus" when I hear God's name taken in vain, but still we watch.

    We check out Common Sense Media.com
    but will have to check out Margaret's mentioned site.

    Interesting topic.

  7. Oh, I have to add: (sorry to comment so much!)

    My 4 year old the other day was eating pretzel sticks and she put it in her mouth, half out and said, "see my smoker?" "I have a smoker." Now, we don't even know anyone who smokes. Had to be a Tom and Jerry episode, cool Tom smoking....

    OK, I'm done.

  8. what a great bunch of advice from a GREAT group of ladies. i agree with everything said. and will try not to soapbox...but don't be too hard on yourself, barb. i feel, that as faithful mamas, we have a PHENOMENAL task in these times, keeping our children pure. today i read a little snippet from st. francis de sales and he stated that temptation is everywhere. it was even in heaven. for that is where the devil himself was tempted. so we are Christians in aGod-less world. and we have to teach our children custody of the eyes. because sin is EVERYWHERE. we cannot avoid it. i have sort of dropped the ball and tell my kids that i CANNOT read every. single. text. listen to every single conversation. view every movie choice. etc. etc. so what i EXPECT from them is discretion. they MUST learn. for themselves. to turn off the trash. i try very hard to refrain from watching things with objectionable content myself so that they see that i am not a "hypocrite". but like margaret says, there are some things which as adults, we can "handle". crude humor and sexual content should never be "handled". and that is the custody of the eyes thing again...the other night i watched the time traveler's wife by myself and was very disappointed at how he showed up naked everywhere. when asked if i liked it, i voiced my distaste. and used it as an opportunity to talk about modesty..i personally don't watch many movies. i don't have time and it is not the first thing i choose to do if i have free time. but our kids today are so drawn in by media of all kinds. i think remaining open with them. and stressing the fact that we must strive to "annihilate" ANY and ALL behaviors and/or attachments to things which would be unacceptable by a very REAL Jesus. my tired brain is sort of getting off track, so i will get off the soapbox...but, please, don't be so hard on yourself. it is so hard to accept that there will always be chinks in the armor. things are going to get through. but we CANNOT avoid it all. instead we persevere. and have hope that our faith in GOD is stronger than all hell unleashed...
    you are such a dear heart. may HE bless you in all your endeavors. can't wait to see what you come up with for ideas...especially with teens. the teen years are proving difficult for me. but God is good. and as long as my chickies continue to come for prayers when called...albeit begrudgingly at times..it is vital to remember that these souls entrusted to our care are to be gently led. not forced. God is the sweet conqueror of souls...and ultimately the fight between good and evil is one that doesn't end until death!!!
    love to you across the miles.
    and i, too, think that header is GREAT!


I appreciate your comments -- sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself!