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Books, Movies, and Mythical Innocence of Children

Some of the most contentious discussions with parents usually begin with one of these sentences:

“Well, I just don’t let my kids watch . . . ”

or

“My children aren’t allowed to read . . . ”

You name it, there are parents who have drawn the line just shy of it: Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, the news, Lord of the Rings, even Spongebob.  (Okay, that last one was me.)

There’s a certain very commonly held viewpoint that children are blank, pure slates. Our job as parents is to maintain their innocence and keep them from the filth that the world throws at them.

Rev. Paul Joiner, a reformed southern pastor, has been writing about these issues lately, to get parents to think clearly about how to raise our children in the modern world. Here is his three part series:

Why Read Literature, Watch Movies, Listen to Music, or See Plays

Why We Should Be Reading and Watching the Stories of the World.

Are You Raising Cultural Gluttons or Cultural Anorexics?

In a related conversation, Rebecca Cusey discusses this very issue as it pertains to movies in this article called:

Recognizing the Danger Within, Not Without

Both of these individuals frame the issue not as one of innocence lost but as vulnerabilities exposed. Our kids, after all, aren’t innocent; they’re vulnerable. We all are, but in different ways. The wisdom in choosing movies lies in understanding those vulnerabilities, not in preserving mythical innocence.

Do you have your lines? I certainly do. But these articles encourage us to consider carefully the reasons why we’re drawing them.

Nancy French — Nancy French is a three-time New York Times best-selling author and a longtime contributor to National Review Online.

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