Friday, February 26, 2010

My soap box: keeping them innocent

So, I have been reading a lot lately and I have a few things I want to get off my chest.

First of all, before I get into my little tirade, let me start by saying I am whole heartedly for the first amendment. I am a huge advocate of freedom of speech and press. Furthermore, I do not believe in the banning or burning of books. Government should not play that kind of censorship roll in our community.

However, I do think it is our responsibility as parents to censor what our children read; but, how do we do this without discouraging our children from reading all together?

Most of the books I have been reading lately have been young adult fiction. I choose to read these because they are entertaining, usually well-written, and they don’t include a lot of the “sexier” scenes that adult fiction usually has. I’m not a prude, I just don’t like to blush while reading a novel : )

The thing is, the more I read young adult fiction, the more I realize how much the times have changed. Maybe I was ignorant and naive during my adolescent years, but I honestly don’t remember adult language and sexual content being embedded within the books I read.

I realize that kids are going to hear bad words at school and hear about who is sleeping with whom; but shouldn’t we try to protect their innocence for as long as we can? To me there is no need for our children to be bombarded with these sorts of things 24/7; but I am at a loss for how to do this without discouraging my children from reading.

What are your thoughts on this? If you have young adults, how do you go about “censoring” (for lack of a better word) what they read or do you at all? With a five-year-old and a two-year-old, I am obviously not to this hurdle quite yet, but I would love some ideas for future reference.

7 comments:

~ A Moxie Mom said...

My kiddos are still young also, but one thing that I will always do is read to them from the Bible until they can read it on their own. That will provide the foundation that they will need to discern right from wrong. And I pray that they will choose to guard their own hearts, minds, and souls as they get older.

However, until they are older and able to make those decisions on their own, I will introduce them to many books that teach Godly wisdom, manners, love, and consideration towards others.

Beth@Pages of Our Life said...

Melinda,

My oldest is 10 and loves to read and I have found it challenging helping him find good series books as he is getting older. One of the things I do is get the first one on audio and listen to it. There is a lot of resources out there for picking out younger aged books but not so much for the teenage age. I have found the following books helpful for picking out books so far.

1. Books Children Love
2. Whom Should We Read (an excellent source of info on the background of authors from the past not very helpful on current authors though)
3. I read the amazon book reviews and ask like minded friends.

HTH

Lauren said...

Obviously, this is not a first-hand issue for us yet. But I know that as an avid reader, I read MANY books as an adolescent and "young adult" that if my mother knew what was between those pages...well, some sort of havoc would have ensued. And likely would have involved books being thrown away. Now as a parent, particularly reflecting on my teenage years, I have a great desire to nourish my children's desire to read with quality books that are both interesting and edifying.

I love the "Honey" series of books for parents ("Honey for a Child's Heart," "Honey for a Teen's Heart") that provide excellent and trustworthy reading lists.

Also, Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience (website) frequently posts her favorite book picks.

And honestly, when that time comes for us, if a book doesn't come recommended from a reliable source, one of us will probably "preview" it before allowing our kids to read it. I don't view this is censorship, or even sheltering - to me this is simply part of shepherding our precious gifts. :) Why would we want to pass up an opportunity to protect their hearts, and the visual and word images that are being stored up there?

Just my .02. ;)

Stacey said...

Those are some great suggestions and ideas. I have wondered the same thing. I struggle, knowing that I am supposed to keep them protected and to make sure that everything they are exposed to is positive and uplifting, yet at the same time I don't want to shelter them so much that it backfires and they either get hurt by not knowing enough to know how and why to make the right decisions or on the other side, to make them feel like they don't have any person freedoms and want to rebel. It's a hard call to make...

I think sometimes all we can do is be conscious and aware and keep lines of communication open and healthy.

Debra @ A Frugal Friend said...

Great post and comments....with a 2 year old I'm not there yet, but I want to be ready!

Amber said...

So I've been mulling this over for a while, since I first read your post. I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about it. My first thought is, of course I'm going to oversee everything my children read. But then I think of all the things I read as a child. I was much too young to read a lot of it, but I learned a lot from it too. Additionally, I ran across some wonderful books that I probably never would have read if my parents had been more observant of what I am reading.

But really, reality hit me on the head this week. Grace is suddenly a voracious reader. She loves it, and I am so glad. She goes to her school library and checks out books almost daily. On Monday, she came home and said, "I read a whole book today." She had been so engrossed in her book that she read it every chance she got. I never even had the opportunity to check what she was reading. So, I think what I'm realizing is that I can't guard everything she reads. At least not with the method we've chosen to educate our children. And I only have one reader at this point! How can I keep up when all three are reading a book a day?

My current opinion is that I need to teach my children to make good choices. They need to learn how to choose what to read, how to guard their own hearts and minds, and when to come to me for help. I'm not going to abandon them with the task all themselves, especially not at the age of 7. But I am thrilled that I have a child who loves to read, and I want to help her use that love for her own good. I don't think its an easy task, but I think for now that is the road I'm going to try to take.

julia said...

My daughter was reading the Princess Diaries books because we loved the movie and thought the books would be okay. One day, when I had nothing better to read, I read one. And promptly took away my daughter's unread books in the series. Last year "everyone" was reading the Twilight series (5th grade). Not us.

I really do think the best way to monitor your kids is to do what you did...read their books. Some children have greater discernment than others when it comes to what is appropriate and what isn't.

I've actually enjoyed a lot of my son's books. They're for a middle school or high school kid but if you're interested let me know and I can look them up.