Protecting Your Kids By Just Saying NO.

This past week we enjoyed our first camping trip as a family. One day we took a five mile bike ride on the Cape Cod Bike Trail that led us into the quaint little town of Orleans. We were thrilled to come upon an awesome coffee shop called The Hot Chocolate Sparrow.

Bike ride in Cape Cod.

When I tell you this place was AWESOME, it was! Homemade candy, ice cream, pastries, a barista whirling up all kinds of frozen coffee drinks, wifi access, soups, sandwiches and…

a rack of greeting cards with some of the most unimaginable filth on the front of them right in the middle of all that coffee shop goodness.

Peter and I both commented that we live in a world that has gone stark, raving mad.


We are the kind of parents who protect our kids from as much trash as we can. We ban, we shield, we block, we say NO.  

This translates into our kids not playing the latest video games, or seeing current blockbuster movies, listening to current music and limited internet access. Why? Because we like to be mean and say no?

No, because Sometimes what is best for our child’s long-term good means that in the short term we do the hard, unpopular thing. (<—Click to Tweet) I am not called to be my child’s friend at all costs, although that will eventually come. I am called to guide them. Parenting means that I might have to be the bad guy for a time.

I used to feel badly for the kids in Muslim ruled countries who were surrounded by death and car bombs, jihad and beheadings as part of their normal lives. This was just the culture they live in, poor kids.

But I now feel badly for American kids who by CHOICE are allowed to watch these things as entertainment. Which is worse?

We don’t feed our kids’ bodies trash, and we refuse to feed their spirits trash either.

S*x on the TV and in movies seems to be our cultures norm. In fact, there is a feeding frenzy for the most disturbing, twisted junk imaginable. (Don’t believe me? See how much p*rn is created each year vs. wholesome children’s movies. And if you really want to be disturbed, realize that much of that is child p*rn.)

And it doesn’t end there. Dysfunctional topics like glorified revenge, sexual perversions, violence and morbid themes in our kids “games” and “entertainment” are flooding the market. (Why this fascination with zombies and vampires, death and the occult. Aren’t kids games supposed to be happy and fun?)

Some facts from Common Sense Media:

  • Media violence is especially damaging to children under 8 because they cannot easily tell the difference between real life and fantasy (American Academy of Pediatrics, 1995).
  • Research indicates that when they are exposed to media violence, kids can become more aggressive, become insensitive to violence, have more nightmares, and develop a fear of being harmed (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2001).
  • A sample of 77 PG-13-rated films included 2,251 violent actions, with almost half resulting in death (UCLA, 2007).

Filth on the front of magazines is as “normal” as choosing paper or plastic in the checkout lines. The topics on the front of these magazines should make any wholesome person blush. (I am one of those moms who turns inappropriate magazine covers in the check out lane at the grocery store when they are at eye level with my impressionable little ones. Then I complain to the store manager. )

Some studies say that up to 40% of kids are engaged in s*xting on their cell phones. Why does your 10-year-old need a smart phone again? Don’t get me wrong, I understand wanting them to have one from a safety standpoint, but what about their spiritual safety? In my day, we were concerned about predators stealing away kids in their vans and harming them. Now, the predator is just a text away on your kids cell phone.

How do you protect your kids from such junk? How do you stop your child from being pulled down the sewer of society’s norms and keep them wholesome?

1. Can I suggest that you turn off your television? Or seriously monitor it? There are so many other things in life your child could be doing.

2. Have your computer in a common area, where there is accountability. No computers, handhelds with internet access, or smart phones in bedrooms. End of discussion. Keep a basket on the counter for all handheld devices. Kids see more p*rn on their phones than on a computer. Our famous line is “We don’t trust the flesh, so we don’t make provisions for it.” This keeps it from being an “us” vs. “you” issue. We are all in the same boat.

3. Just say NO to violent, s*xual, or disturbing video games. Phil 4:8 gives us some guidelines:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

And Proverbs 3:7

As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.

You and your kids become what you are thinking about, and what you are thinking about is exposed in your entertainment choices.

4. Replace video entertainment with something wholesome. You can’t just say No and not offer an alternative. Take a walk, play a board game,  encourage a sport or hobby or just go do something as a family.  You are the parent, and you are responsible for what goes on in your home.

5. Pray for discernment. Really, if you are not sure, ask for wisdom from God. (James 1:5)

When your kids are begging because all their friends are doing it, pray for steadfastness to raise them in a way that would show that you care more about doing right before God as a parent than what your kid wants right now, what other parents say is fine, or what the culture thinks is normal.

In the end, you stand alone before God for the choices you made for your family.

Do you feel like your family is living counter culturally? What do you do to protect them at each stage?

(I use an asterisk in some word for those of you with family friendly filters set up.)

16 thoughts on “Protecting Your Kids By Just Saying NO.”

  • Great post. It can be hard and sometimes discouraging to live in a way that is counter cultural to so many. Kids need to hear no and I really believe that kids will end up making a lot more childhood memories by playing with parents, siblings and friends, reading or playing sports than they ever will by sitting inside and playing video games.

  • My comment disappeared! Maybe it will show up later…just wanted to say I totally agree with you on the need to be the bad guy and protect our kids from so much of the junk that is out there today. It is sad, so sad, that we have to work so hard at it, as it is everywhere. It is one reason I am thankful that we don’t live in the States, I have so much more control over the things that my kids see and watch, but it is still there. Thanks for this post!

  • Excellent, and I totally agree. That is one reason I am glad we live outside of the States, we have so much more control over what our kids see, watch, play, etc. But it is crazy how much junk is out there! Oh my! I wholeheartedly agree with you that being the bad guy for now is the right thing to do…sometimes it just feels really hard, doesn’t it?!
    Standing firm with ya!!

    • Joy, it is true. You do have more control outside the US. I have missionary friends who come back to the US and cannot believe how far we’ve come in 10 years. It is okay to be the bad guy for a season, and in the end they’ll know it was for their good. Then you’ll be their hero. 🙂

  • SOOOOOO with ya on this!
    My husband was walking through the mall with one of our boys (who was 3 at the time) and they walked past the Victoria Secret window and our little guy YELLED–
    “THAT’s not modest!!!” 🙂

    But it does start to feel like it’s a never-ending battle to prepare them and protect them and as you wrote…maybe even be the “bad guy” when they want to read-do-see-play something that will be harmful over healthy.

    Trying out your new *fancy* tweet button 🙂
    Love this Sarah.

    • That is hysterical, K. Praying that your boys will always be that way…minus the yelling part. 🙂 It is a never ending battle.

    • That’s awesome! We’re really bad in our house about not using (or teaching) the correct terminology, but my son always sees the magazines in checkout lanes, and says “Mommy, why doesn’t she have any clothes on?” I don’t know, Caeden….I don’t know.

      To Sarah, I completely agree, and we also really monitor what our children are exposed to. They are only 4 and 2, but already there are things geared toward their age group that they need to be shielded from.

  • Sarah- thank you so much for your post. There is so much encouragement in hearing another Mom echo the cries of my heart.
    “(I am one of those moms who turns inappropriate magazine covers in the check out lane at the grocery store when they are at eye level with my impressionable little ones. Then I complain to the store manager. )”
    This has been me too! I just did this last week at Walmart. I complained about their TVs in the check out aisle. They had on some gossip, entertainment type show and I was so disturbed I was distracted by trying to get my kids to not watch the TV rather than getting my groceries checked out.
    I also pray for wisdom daily to seek to honor God in all things and not get caught up in “worldly values” or caving to “peer pressure” issues. It starts so young- wanting to have what their friends have.
    God bless you Sarah- thanks again for sharing.

    • Rachel, I hate that you can’t walk through the mall without being bombarded with Victoria’s Secret and Video Game Weirdness. Really, it is a reality slap that we are NOT of this world. Keep on keeping on!!

  • A huge AMEN! I often feel odd that my kids don’t watch certain things or play certain games and my oldest is only 6! Thanks for this wise encouragement 🙂

  • You must have been a fly on our wall, Sarah! 😀 My husband and I were just talking about this, but in regards to books…excellent post, as always!
    “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

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