Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #13

Re: Decent Parenting

I heard you mention about some unintended messages from a movie and wondered if you may have some advice as well I can use. My kids play these games called Rock Band and online game called Runescape as well as watch this tv show called Family Guy. I am concerned they may be getting possibly bad influence from this and wonder if you have some specifics I can use?

I’m not sure what kind of specifics you’re looking for. I’m only slightly familiar with “The Family Guy,” and I’ve heard of “Rock Band” and “Runescape,” but I can’t really say anything about any of them.

I’m no family counselor or parenting expert for anybody’s kids but my own, so take everything in this email with a grain of salt.

Since your children are already engaged in these entertainments, unless you have serious objections to them I’m guessing that simply putting the kibosh on any of them is probably not a worthwhile or effective battle to fight.

There are some things that would definitely be worth fighting this battle over — say, “Grand Theft Auto,” or some jiggle sitcom. It’s always easier to set the agenda before your kids have discovered something. Taking away something they’ve already discovered is harder, and a battle that may or may not be worth fighting.

The first thing you need to do is be informed and engaged. Watch “The Family Guy” with your kids. Tune in while they play “Runescape” and “Rock Band.”

Try to understand and appreciate, first of all, what your kids see in these pastimes. Don’t let them feel that you “just don’t understand.” Even if you have reservations and issues, your best bet at this point is to be able to credibly say from the outset that you do understand what is funny about “The Family Guy” or cool about “Runescape” or “Rock Band,” why your kids enjoy these things.

Try to figure out what it is that triggers your concerns about these entertainments. Are there problematic song lyrics in “Rock Band”? What bothers you about “The Family Guy”? Try to engage your kids on these subjects. Use an open-ended, questioning approach. Ask them: What do you think of this? What do you think those words mean? Do you think that’s a good attitude or a bad attitude? Does it bother you? Do you think it should bother you? Etc.

Depending on how old your kids are, consider setting limits. No more than so much “Rock Band” or “Runescape” in a day, or a week. Maybe set limits on total screen time per day or per week.

Set a positive agenda. Put on good movies and TV shows. Avoid anything too obviously and boringly “good for you.” The last thing you want to do is have them feel that you only approve of boring stuff and object to anything fun.

At the same time, you may need to try to help them understand that just because something is fun doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s healthy. Let them know whatever objections you may have, if they don’t get it.

Pray as a family. Go to Mass. Pray a rosary in the evening before bed. Maybe do a family Bible reading on Sundays. Pray for your kids. Set the best example you know how.

Hope that helps.

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