Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Old-Fashioned Thinking

It's been a while since I've commented on one of Billy Graham's "My Answer" columns. Here's an except from today's entry:
Q: A friend of mine says she doesn't think she ought to monitor or limit what her children read or see on television or the Internet, because sooner or later they'll find out what life's all about anyway. I don't agree with her, but am I just being old-fashioned? — Mrs. W.J.

A: Dear Mrs. W.J.,
No, you aren't being old-fashioned; you're being wise. After all, no parent would allow their children to wander into a busy intersection or sample the pill bottles in their medicine cabinet. Shouldn't we safeguard our children's moral and spiritual health just as much as their physical health?
Dr. Graham spends a few more paragraphs detailing the need for parents to be involved in the raising of their children, and decrying the potentially disastrous (his word) consequences of neglecting such responsibility. If this is admittedly conservative, I would still basically agree with his main points.

But that's not the main thing that caught me about this article. After I finished the article, I re-read the first sentence of Dr. Graham's response: "No, you aren't being old-fashioned..."

I don't mean to sound rude, but.... yes, she is. The person who wrote the question is most definitely "old-fashioned." The trend away from "monitoring" or "limiting" what children watch on TV is fairly widespread. There's little way to describe those who continue to do so other than "old-fashioned."

It seems to me that both the woman who wrote the question and Dr. Graham himself have fallen into the trap of thinking that "old-fashioned" is to be equated with "bad," and so they seek to run from the term. In many cases, I certainly am against being "old-fashioned" and would consider it bad to be "old-fashioned" on certain issues, such as women's ordination. "Old-fashioned" values that dictate that women are not eligible for some positions in the church have been extremely harmful to many people, and I'm not at all ashamed about calling such "old-fashioned" behavior bad.

But being a responsible parent who's aware of what his/her child watches on TV? There's nothing wrong with that! I would probably advocate a more measured approach than Dr. Graham, I'm sure, but I would still hope to be aware of what my child (if I had one) was watching, so that I could process the material with that child, helping them to see what was good and what was undesirable about such material. I would seek to be active in guiding my child through matters of "right" and "wrong."

This may be "old-fashioned" to some, but on this issue, I would wear that label proudly.

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