One area I have struggled with is time. When the children are little, it is so tempting to allow them to be entertained so that I can get something done! As they grow, that temptation can turn into wanting a vegetable to teach them about the Bible on a video. The thing I need to remember here is that God has charged me with the role of teacher and to disciple my children (Deut. 6, Pr. 22:6). No amount of videos, music or Sunday school can take the place of mom and dad teaching their children the Lord's truths. I have realized that if entertainment is taking up my little one's time, there isn't enough left over for me to teach them all that I believe the Lord wants me to. Don't let entertainment, secular or christian, steal precious time. Our complacency in letting their ears be tickled and eyes mesmerized causes us to miss moments where we could really gain their heart and shape it for the Lord.
I've noticed a couple of things regularly happen when we have a little too much entertainment in our lives. My children will begin to show an attitude of entitlement, believing they deserve to watch this or that, or deserve to do what everyone else is doing. This is a great opportunity to get back on track and point them to the truth, we deserve the worst, but, because of Jesus we get the best. Don't waste this opportunity and give into an attitude of selfishness. Never, I repeat never, allow a child who thinks they deserve to be dazzled by entertainment to get what they want. It is a gift to have the freedom, finances, eyes and ears to enjoy, we must address the heart of this situation or face a future with an adult who crumbles in hard times because they expect everything to be fun.
Here are a few of the ways we balance movies, tv, computer and video games.
- Story telling. Our children love it when we make up funny stories with a moral or about them. It is also great fun for them to story tell about whatever they can dream up. This can get very interesting and help kids to think out of the box.
- We like to do family game night. We get out the board games and team up with a little one who can't read yet and play for a short time.
- We have started to do family debates, usually around the dinner table. We will give the children one side of an issue to debate or let them choose sometimes. Here are some ideas: who should decide bedtime parent's or kids, what is better ice cream or candy, which is easier to play football or baseball.
- We turn on classical music and imagine either a story, play or ballet to go with it and describe it for everyone else or act it out. This is a great thing to do on car rides. Our girls love coming up with silly stories. Now they almost always associate music with a feeling or with something that is happening in it. This is a great game to develop listening and creativity.
- Describe things together. The other night at dinner Pete had everyone use a different word to describe our peas. Great for developing brainstorming in little ones.
- We'll do memorization or guessing games. 20 q's, telephone etc.
The list here could go on and on, hopefully this will help you start some alternative forms of entertainment at your house. For the little ones you need to keep these games to a short duration and for the older ones you need to make it increasingly interesting and challenging as "baby" games will be a real drag.
As we grow more and more desensitized to the razzle and dazzle around us because of the shear volume of entertainment available let's not forget the goal- children who are on fire and alive for the Lord. There should be room in their hearts for the Lord first. My prayer for myself and you as well is that you will examine the heart behind the request for a little entertainment and righteously direct it. Let's seize each opportunity we can to pass the baton on so we raise up a generation that can stand for our Saviour and King!