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They say the sins of the parents will be visited upon the heads of the children. Now that I am a mother of my own children and have been a mother for 18 years now I can see how the choices of the generation before mine have affected my generation. I can also see how the choices of my generation are going to affect our children. I am in this strange place where I can see the past, the present, and the future all wrapped up together in one messy little package.
MTV (Music Television) was all the rage when I was a teenager. Music videos were new and everyone was watching them. Saturday Night Live was also new and it was the show to watch with your friends on Saturday night. Thankfully, my parents didn't allow me to watch either and I was protected from the filth radiating from both of those.
My daughter came home from school last week and was singing some of the songs from her upcoming choir concert for me. They are singing many of my generation's songs... "Higher Love" by Steve Winwood and some others. We thought it would be fun to find some of those old 1980's music videos that went along with the songs she was singing so she could here the "originals". "Higher Love" wasn't bad. My kids were laughing at the big hair, rolled up pant-legs, blue eye shadow, and their funny way of dancing. We were having a fun time looking at what was popular for mom and dad when we were teenagers. It was clean for the most part so I looked up a few other songs. My husband was really into the Big Hair Bands (AC/DC, Def Leopard, Scorpions, Whitesnake, etc.), but realized soon after we were married that they weren't the best choices in music and threw those CD's out. We looked up a song so we could show them what a Big Hair Band looked like and I started the video. My son sat down beside me to watch. I was trying to screen them so that we would only watch the clean videos, but I was too late as my son sat down. The video loaded and I immediately had to close the lid on my laptop and tell him to look away so I could close the video. I was nervous about that very thing because I remembered that I wasn't allowed to watch 1980's music videos for a reason when I was his age. I honestly haven't seen very many music videos. I still do not watch them for that very reason, but I thought that maybe the 1980's videos weren't as bad as I remembered. I was wrong. Just because they are 30 years old doesn't make them any less dirty. That was the end of our trip down memory lane. That one brief moment of that video ruined the moment and took the fun out of it.
There is so much out there now in the media industry to entertain us. We can always find something to watch to entertain our minds rather than being industrious and, say - go outside and play ball with our kids or something. We are a lazy generation and spend far too much time in front of our computers, I-Pods, and television sets. It's sad really. And I'm just as guilty as anyone else. I realize that this sin will be visited upon the heads of our children just as being unsupervised children in the 1970's, 1980's, and 1990's has gotten us to this point where we are now. Most of the smut and filth we see all over the internet, on movie screens, and on television shows is a direct result of my generation watching channels like MTV and watching comedy skits like Saturday Night Live because there were no parents at home to tell them to turn it off. My generation is a generation full of polluted minds. Many of the ones who were addicted to those kinds of entertainment then are the ones making our entertainment now. Somewhere along the line, too many of the people I grew up with thought that dirty jokes were the only ones that were funny. Those are the people writing comedy skits today. I don't watch comedy anymore. It isn't funny. It's raunchy.
I go to extra lengths to protect my mind as well as the minds of my children. We do not have cable or satellite television in our home anymore. I could regulate the shows my kids were watching, but I could not regulate the commercials. We do not watch rated 'R' movies. Ever. We do not allow our children to watch 'PG-13' movies unless we have previewed them first. My husband and I are very selective in even the 'PG-13' movies. We watch Netflix in our home, but I watch my account like a hawk to see what they are watching. I can track it online. We also have a rule that they can ONLY watch the shows that mom has put into the Instant Queue. We keep our computer in the living room so that we can see what they are doing on the internet. We try to be responsible parents and teach them how to stay away from pornography and other forms of filth out there in the media. We talk about pornography a lot and cover all the bases of what it is and why it is so dangerous and how to avoid it. It can creep in with even the most seemingly innocent ways. I have recently given up browsing Pinterest. I still have my account because I like that I can pin websites into one place to keep track of them, but I don't browse through pins anymore. There is so much foul language and pins where people have little or no clothes on... all in the name of "art" or "fitness". I can't take it. It is offensive to my spirit and makes me uncomfortable. I've been known to get up and walk out of movie theaters before. I've come to understand that if viewing or listening to something makes me feel uncomfortable I would be better served to turn it off or walk away.
My children understand also because we have helped them to distinguish the difference in how they feel based on what they are watching or listening to. Right now my 13 year-old son's favorite TV show is the black and white 1959 version of "Dennis the Menace". He thinks it's hilarious and we all like to sit down together and watch an episode or two with him. It is funny! And HE chose that show, not me or his dad. We've taught him how to look for those kinds of entertainment that are better. My kids know the difference and are pretty good about making good entertainment choices. Occasionally something will slip past before we know it, but it is understood that if something is questionable in what we are watching or listening to there is no second thought. It just automatically gets turned off. Period. It has become second nature to my kids to regulate themselves this way.
We are only as good a people as our minds and they need and should be protected from the smut and filth that surrounds us. It damages us and when we are damaged we then damage those around us. It is a vicious cycle. We have a responsibility as parents to protect the innocence of our children's minds. They are not mature enough to know for themselves what is good or bad for them. I've always felt like protecting the innocence of a child is one of the greatest gifts we can give to them. All children deserve to be protected from the evils of this world. It is our duty to give them that.
If we have a desire to be good people we should begin by having good thoughts. We have good thoughts by reading high quality books and magazines, listening to uplifting music with positive lyrics, by having art in our homes and workplaces that invite good feelings and make us feel good when we look at them. By surrounding ourselves with those things that are wholesome and good, we can't help but have good thoughts. When we have good thoughts we will be happier and have more joy in our lives. We will have less fear and less negative self talk. Our ability to overcome addictions will be greater. We will just be better. We've all heard this saying: A mind is a beautiful thing to waste. I agree. Today, I would challenge all who read these words to feed your minds with good things so that you can have good thoughts. Don't waste your minds and fill them full of other people's garbage. You'll never be sorry for making the decision to have a clean mind.