Surviving the Cesspool of Media Influences

9:20 AMHeather

Interesting.  Yet again.  The ongoing onslaught of recurring themes in my life.  Like what I blogged about last week--the media fast week of The 7 Experiment, followed by the temporary death of our Verizon services and then the crazy few weeks where media was crowded out by life.  

Or, as I shall address today, the continual process of surviving the cesspool of media influence on our family.  Highlighted by THIS blog post, which I think is a must read for parents of boys and girls.  Friends, we are living in a day and age where the plumb line for "normal and acceptable" has gotten so far off track that I'm afraid we cannot afford to be anything but intentional and diligent in our parenting.  I don't care what your faith standards are.  The level of garbage and filth being thrown in our faces is unprecedented.  

Never has a generation been so bombarded with easy access to influences that have never before existed.  And even if you are not guided by the Holy Spirit and Biblical standards, you cannot afford to be asleep at the wheel.  

Let me say that again.  No parent can afford to be asleep at the wheel.  I am not overselling this.  Trust me here.  Here's why I speak with conviction.  I know someone well who has served prison time.  Someone who has Biblical standards.  Someone of great honor and respect.  Who got sucked in to a slippery slope.  Where a little "boys will be boys" led to a pornography addiction that took him places he never thought he'd go, faster than he ever thought he'd get there.   

The reality is that we live in a culture where Victoria's Secret is launching a new line aimed at preteen girls, called Bright Young Things, with underwear that has messages such as call me, wild, and the question "feeling lucky?" on them.  

Disgusting.  I was reminded yet again of the lack of modest options for our young girls when I shopped with my 8 year-old daughter for her Daddy/Daughter dance.  She is tall for her age.  So, we were shopping for a size 14 or 16--and even ventured into the Juniors' section for the first time.  I was grossed out.  Cause even in the Juniors age category--our girls do NOT need to look like hoochie mamas.  Truth be told--no grown woman needs to look like a hoochie mama.

I saw this from a different angle when I went shopping with a friend and her teenage daughter this past weekend.  I was called in to be an "objective" voice with the protective mom and the fashionista daughter.  Here's what I saw as we scoured the mall for some good options.  See through shirts, dresses with a sheer back, low cut tops, and a wide assortment of options to make any young girl look like a grown up.  A grown up with a lack of modesty.

I get it.  Sex sells.  Yet, this has evolved to the point of selling sex to our kids.  We, as a nation, have moved beyond "edgy" for the sake of sensationalism and ratings to inundating the next generation with the message that their worth is caught up in being desirable to the opposite sex. Sex is casual.  It's no big deal.  It's nothing to be held sacred or to be saved.    

This doesn't work for me as a mom of BOYS and a mom of a GIRL.  Let me explain something to you moms of only girls.  Something that I was recently taught.  When your girl is dressed in attire that covers her but shows "just a little," the male brain does something.  It draws on fantasy to finish the picture.  Let me repeat myself.  When your daughter wears a low cut top or a short skirt or shorts, the male brain is aroused and takes what it sees to a level where fantasy fills in the gap.  

These are not safe places for any boy or girl to be dabbling in.  These places are unleashing a firestorm of temptations and issues that the preteen and teen are not developmentally able to handle.  It's a thrill ride that can end with great danger. Emotionally.  Physically.  Mentally.  Spiritually. 

We wouldn't hand the car keys for a sports car to our elementary school child and say, "Take it for a test ride, son."   But, when we allow a lack of modesty, an exposure to luring images, sexual innuendos, or even straight up inappropriate viewing material, that is exactly what we are doing.  We are telling our kids to take it all for a test ride.  Without giving them driving lessons or acknowledging that they are not yet developmentally able to handle the challenge.   

You want to know the reality?  Grown men and women are not well equipped to handle the temptations.  How do I know?  The results include addiction to pornography, broken marriages, eating disorders, depression, and a whole slew of societal ills.  

But, we think we can just sit back with a deep sigh because, "Well, this is the day and age we are living in, after all."  

Not good enough for me.  We must do something.  We must be the voice of reason to our kids.  To tell them that they are so very precious that we want to keep them from playing with fire.  To train them how to handle the reality.  How to dare to be different.  How to resist.  Because it is feasible for them to choose something that is counter cultural.  It is possible to go against the flow.

We must put up safe guards.  Like parental controls on television, iTouches, iPhones, Netflix, and the internet.  We must limit access and unplug the machine.  And explain to them WHY.  Don't just hover.  Have a dialog with your kids as to WHY you are safe guarding.  Teach them how to safe guard themselves.  Just yesterday, I told one child, "If Jesus were looking over your shoulder, would he want you to change the channel?  Use that as your deciding factor."  Give them the tools to monitor themselves.  Because they will need to.  Someday, they'll be away from you and eventually out on their own.  And they will walk through a mall's food court to see a full window display with a girl in her underwear.  And our boys need to know--just a glance, don't take a chance.  Look away.  Our girls need to know that this is not the standard for attractiveness.  That photo was edited.  Their beauty is so much more than their skin.

Have a buzzword.  At our house, it's "windows."  This comes from the time that a child misheard "sexual innuendo" to be "window."   Hmm.  We realized that window was actually a great descriptive.  Because those little glimpses and phrases and such are windows into something more.  So, we use the phrase window to alert each other to "danger" and to look away or fast forward.  Because so much marketing relies on the old "sex sells" strategy, we rarely watch live television.  Gotta fast forward right through it all--past the windows.  When we walk through the mall or drive past a billboard, "WINDOW!" means look away.

Monitor ALL screen time.  I mean all.  Read their texts, KIKs, instagrams, twitters, and so on.  If you find something concerning, have a conversation.  Coach them how to use media appropriately.  Safely.  Avoid the dangers and the pitfalls.  Point out the pitfalls when you see them.  Tell your child, "Oh, that's not appropriate and here's why."  This is training them to be diligent in their choices and to be watchful.

Don't compromise your standards for modesty.  Press on as you shop.  No matter how hard it is.  Take the time.  Work hard at looking at what's "on trend" and finding a way to make it appropriate.  Throw a cami under that low cut shirt.  Let that too short dress become a tunic with skinny jeans under it.  Let them know that THEY are so important, that you will not compromise or allow your precious gift to be wrapped in questionable wrapping paper.  At Christmas, you wrap your gifts so that they are covered.  You don't just wrap most of it.  You will do no less with your children, who are gifts from God.  

Be mindful of the images and the fashion influences playing on your children.  Tell your boys and your girls that scantily clad is not pretty.  It's not God honoring.  It's sad.  And grieving to the Lord because we are gifts to be unwrapped by our spouses someday, as God intended.  Moms and dads--tell your boys and your girls from an early age.  Let them hear you stand up for modesty and guarding your eyes and your mind and your heart and your body.

Surround yourself with like minded individuals.  Combat the voices around you with voices that reflect your values.  Plan shopping outings with your girl and their bestie and her mom. Who thinks like you do.  Steep yourselves in the Word and in prayer.  Check out books like Dannah Gresh's Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl and Six Ways to Keep the Good in Your Boy.  Don't leave a vacuum where you've cut out screen time or other influences.  Fill it with positive messages.   Read lyrics online of songs before your child buys them --with your child.  Pointing out anything that is objectionable and why.  Preview a movie that is questionable.  Use resources like the Pluggedinonline app.   Choose movies and television and books and entertainment with a good message. 

Let's band together, bloggy friends.  Forget, "I'm bringing sexy back."  I love Justin Timberlake and all--but I want to bring MODESTY back.  We can make modesty cool.  Really--I think we can!  Together.  We can set high standards and let our kids know that we believe they can live up to them.  We can be the life preserver to throw into the cesspool of media influences and save the next generation from drowning in the filth.  

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