I popped in an old VHS video tape for our son this evening, when what to my wondering eyes should appear? Some vulgar words and gestures! I exclaimed, "Oh, dear!"
The preview deemed fit for "general audiences" (read: Rated G) wasn't blatantly blasphemous per se. But it was disturbing. Within the first five seconds (a mere FIVE seconds!) of this advertisement for a children's cartoon movie, there was darkly ominous, threatening background music, a roaring Godzilla monster throwing a temper tantrum, a dog lifting it's leg to pee on a wall, and a child aiming his posterior end toward the camera, scratching his hind parts vigorously while exclaiming, "I gots a wedgie!"
And people wonder why I preview and pre-approve (or not) my children's screen-based entertainment?
I don't deny that each of these images might be "art reflecting life" but, in reverse, is that kind of "life" a surprise if that is the "art" you supply for your children's consumption? Ever heard the phrase, "garbage in, garbage out"?
Well, it's true.
If you feed your child nothing but candy, then (*surprise!*) s/he is going to get rotten teeth. Therefore, if you feed your child visual and intellectual stimuli that are bereft of moral or cerebral edification, then don't be too shocked if your child's contributions to the world are limited to snickering, sophomoric behavior and, later in life, personal and professional decisions that reflect a crass inner depravity.
I'm not suggesting that filtering your child's screen-based entertainment will make him or her the perfect person. But I am suggesting that careful monitoring (or perhaps even the same admirable, almost slavish devotion some parents give to the natural or organic quality of their child's food diet) will ensure that your child's heart, mind, and soul will receive nourishing material, inspiring him or her to lead a healthy life and achieve the greatest of heights in fulfilling their unique call to be the best person that God has envisioned him or her to be!
Someone I know recently praised the fact that her child frequently had his nose deep in comic books. "Hey," she shrugged. "At least he's reading!"
Really? With that rationale, why not put Mein Kampf in front of him and let 'er rip!
Again. This is not rocket science. Garbage in. Garbage out.
Instead, why not take out the garbage from your children's purview and provide them with activities, entertainment, and education that are enlightening to the soul and invigorating to the mind? When making a decision about what you will or won't allow your child to visually or intellectually consume, always have before you these two quotes, from people far wiser than I ever will be:
1). St. Dominic Savio was famous for asking at every turn, in every situation, "What has this to do with eternity?" How will this benefit my eternal soul and the souls of those around me? It's that simple.
2). A local Catholic boys' school principal often is heard telling the fine young men who are his students, "Don't do anything that would break your mother's heart!"
Because remember Who made you? God made you. And why did God make you? God made you to know, love, and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him forever in heaven in the next.
So the next time your child begs to be allowed to have, watch, or participate in something that is less than edifying to his or her soul, remember to pause a moment and consider the potential long-term effect on his or her future residency in heaven, even if it is a seemingly miniscule effect. Neither you nor your child have to be perfect. But you do have to be vigilant, especially in the cesspool that is today's world of instant communication and screen-based entertainment.
Oh and remember -- don't do anything that would break His mother's heart, either!