Does it really make a difference?


Sometimes I wonder if I am too uptight and strict with my parenting roles. I do not let my kids watch a T.V. show or movie without me previewing it first. I even preview old Cosby shows before they can watch them.

Then one day I was reminded why I do that. I found my three big kids in the living room playing together nicely, and they were acting out a book that Hannah was reading. She literally had the book memorized and was explaining in great detail all the different events that occurred in the book to the other two. It proved that they are not just casual observers – they are soaking up EVERYTHING. Whether it is music, an attitude, sayings, likes or dislikes…they are influenced by whatever comes across their path. It is my job to keep them on the right path to protect them from the lies that the world throws at them. For example, I don’t want my 8 year old daughter to know that she has to worry about her weight or what hair style looks cool. I don’t want her to be exposed to the idea of divorce, drugs, affairs, or sex until she is ready to comprehend these topics and maturely handle them. I am not so naïve that I think that I can protect her forever from any of these things, but I can control what she put into her mind on my watch. I can control what books she reads, what movies she watches, what games she plays and even what friends she spends time with.

Hannah reading a book

So, I have decided that I am okay with being the annoying, fun-killing mom. When my girls get asked to play with a friend, I ask what they will be doing. If it is a movie, I ask to watch it before the play date. I haven’t had a parent yet deny my request and I even had a mom ask me ahead of time because she knows that is important to me. We talk with our girls and explain that each family has a different set of rules. It doesn’t make one family better or bad; it just makes them different. We explain to them that we expect them to obey our rules whether we are there or not. If they find themselves in a situation when their friend is allowed to do something that they are not, we expect them to say that they are not allowed to do it. If the friend continues to do it, we tell them to call us and we will come get them no matter what.

I look for opportunities to explain the principles behind our rules and why they are important. The opportunities come at all random times, including the ride to and from school.  For example, the high school cross country team has given us ample opportunities to discuss modesty. The girls’ team members seem to always be running along the street at that time in tiny shorts and sports bras. Right now we just talk about how it is important to cover your whole chest and stomach because God wants us to take care of our bodies and not show it off for others to see. When the girls get older I will take it to another level and talk about how not to be a temptation to the boys around them.  And how our worth is not found in the attention that we get from flaunting our beauty.  And all of that. I love how even my 4 year old son is catching on. He reminds me that they are “not modest!” when we drive by.  This makes me so grateful.  I am planting the seeds early that this is not right, in hopes that this will begin training his mind for later when the hormones start kicking in.

Do you watch what your children are reading? Watching? Do you have rules about what they can and cannot do with friends? How do you draw the line? Please share!


Philippians 4:8 (NIV) Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

8 thoughts on “Does it really make a difference?

  1. Leah says:

    Great article! Just curious – do you have certain TV series that you know are ok and you don’t preview first? For example, our daughter loves Daniel Tiger and Word World on PBS and those don’t have anything I would consider questionable content, so I wouldn’t have even thought about watching them first.
    One thing that we’ve had to discuss since our older 2 started school is playdates. They’re making friends now that are beyond our “circle” and I don’t know all the parents. I’ve had to explain that even though the kids are their friends and the parents are probably very nice, I don’t know them, so our kids cannot go over to their houses.

    1. Dana says:

      Thank-you for your comments!! Good questions! There are little kid shows that I have watched enough that I do not preview them before the kids watch them. Daniel Tiger and Word World are two of them in fact. Super Why, Team Umizoomi, Dora, Diego, Fresh Beat, and Mickey Mouse Club are all ones they are allowed to watch before I preview them. However if there is a witch or scary special character that appears, a Halloween show or a show that talks about Dinosaurs (due to evolution being taught) the kids have been trained they are to turn the T.V. off immediately. The girls have proved that they can be trusted. Luke is so used to the girls dictating what he can and can not watch I have caught him breaking the rules when they are gone. So I have to make sure it is a good show before I leave him until he remembers the rules. The other thing that helps is we do not have cable or DVR so we are very limited to what we can watch. Before we got rid of DVR we recorded a bunch of shows that we approve and a lot of times the kids just watch those. I am finding out that the older they get the more important it is to preview what they watch verses the preschool shows. Family sitcoms and tween shows I would definitely pick and choose which episodes they can watch. The girls are starting to get into liking “tween” movies like the American Girl Series, Ramona and Beezes etc. I do preview movies watching to making sure the attitudes of the kids are good or at least they get corrected and there is minimum to no boyfriend/girlfriend issues. Oh play dates, we will have a whole blog post on that. Until then I can not stress enough how important it is to be strict. What goes into their minds is so much more important than who likes you. We have the same rule that they can not go to their house until we have built a trusting relationship with the parents. Sometimes we make it a whole family get together instead or at least a mom/kid play date so that the kids can play but I am there to supervise and build a relationship with the kid’s parent. We will have more on that later. Keep the questions coming!!!

  2. Kyla says:

    Great post. We are fun killing parents as well. The subject couldn’t be more appropriate as we near Halloween. We get strange looks and questions when we explain we don’t celebrate. Thankful for our school that believes the same.

  3. Pandia says:

    I agree that it is sooo important to preview what your kids watch, or at the very least watch it with them. Had I not been watching Sesame Street WITH Dash instead of just turning it on for him, I would have missed a dinosaur episode that said the phrase “millions of years ago” about 5 times in the first 10 minutes. Since he’s too young to use it as a teaching opportunity, I just don’t let him watch it. But in the future, I look forward to those moments where he can practice his burgeoning apologetics on me. 🙂 Also great parenting to teach kids that no matter where they are or with whom they are it is important to do what is right, including obey your parents. Way to teach them that now when the stakes are much lower than in high school, or when they are no longer accountable to you directly in the college and adult years. Your Cross country anecdote was interesting. Out of curiosity, have you used the same opportunity to discuss the CC girls’ example of diligence, self-discipline, and perseverance? Or how they girls are taking care of their bodies by exercising?

  4. Emily says:

    The questions regarding the athleticism of the cross-country team found above are of interest to me as well, and I’d like to add to that discussion the understanding of the functionality of certain clothes for certain activities. I am curious if you have ever run long-distance. I have, and I have coached it as well. I was at a Christian school where the expectations for dress were higher than they would typically be elsewhere. However, both the boys and the girls practiced and competed in shorts that were shorter than they would wear in other situations, for the purposes of reducing body heat, and friction and chafing on skin. I use similar shorts when I am training hard or competing in a race. Encouraging a young child to make a blanket statement regarding a character quality (“not modest!”) based on someone’s appearance seems concerning to me.

    1. Dana says:

      Thank you for your comments – these are great discussion points! The runners do exemplify diligence and are staying healthy. And we do not want our kids to be judgmental. Totally agree. You’re also right that some sports require a different type of uniform than others. We do our best to make it a point to not judge a person by what they wear or by the actions they take. We remind the kids over and over that different families have different rules and that doesn’t make one family bad and one good, it just makes us different. Luke is still young enough that he is pretty ‘black and white’, but I feel like the girls are really understanding the balance. We don’t want our kids to grow up judgmental, any more than we want them to grow up dressing provocatively. We are also firm believers that it isn’t what is on the outside that counts but what is on the inside. We talk about the principles of why we feel like God is leading us to to a particular rule or stance and leave room for others to come to a different conclusion.

      The point we made to our daughters was that they weren’t wearing shirts…we didn’t really talk about their shorts. Modesty is a very subjective area, so we mainly want our kids to be thinking. To be purposeful. (Ha, sorry, couldn’t resist.) We are planting the seeds of modesty now, so that when they are older and deciding what to wear they will think “Why am I taking off my shirt to exercise? Pure motives or bad? What will the effect be? Good or bad? Should I sacrifice comfort for modesty, or not? The world is throwing immodesty in my kids’ face via billboards, store displays, magazines, commercials, etc, so this is an area that we are choosing to make it a discussion point when we can. But again, each family has their own standards. (Nate and I will have some modesty posts later, but we don’t want to get that controversial yet! 🙂 )

      Pandia, that is a good point about their example of self-discipline and healthy habits. We haven’t used the CC team as an example of that but we have used it with other sports that the girls are interested in. I will keep that in mind the next time I see the team, as a way to point out that there is a positive lesson to be learned from these girls. Thanks again for taking time to add to the discussion. We really appreciate it! We want this website to be a place for lots of people to share their unique perspectives.

  5. Ruth says:

    Great thoughts and tips!!! The story of how Hannah could repeat every detail of the story she had read to her siblings was a great illustration and reminder about how impressionable kids are and how much they retain and are influenced by the information they take in!!! This really got me thinking today about how “eternal” our role as a parent is and how much is at stake!!! So many of the other things I do each day – laundry, cleaning, dishes, etc…are important to keep our family going but the most important part of my day are the times I can connect with the kids and their hearts the “teachable” moments that happen, often at unexpected times. Thanks for the challenge and reminder!!!

  6. Emily says:

    Thanks for the response. I applaud your efforts to encourage modesty. I actually taught a girls’ workshop on that subject when I was teaching at the private school I mentioned earlier. It was clear that most of these girls had never thought about many of the things we discussed regarding how the male brain functions differently than the female brain, which likely means it hadn’t really been discussed at home (despite the fact that the majority of these kids were growing up in stable, Christian households with involved parents). Most of them received the information receptively, but I could tell some of them really just didn’t want to hear it; they wanted to dress the way that attracted the kind of attention they thought they wanted, and they didn’t want to be told that this wasn’t good. So I certainly agree that it is an issue that needs attention. Thanks again.
    (FYI – Nathan and I went to church together when we were like, 5. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen him, but I have fond memories of his whole family.)

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