My Dad did not like to hear cuss words. He would often give one warning to any given movie or show and after that, the plug was pulled. And when the remote was missing (or in the days before we had one), Dad had us get up, walk to the TV, and press the power button. This made it even more annoying. This will be my story of how tough I had it when I was young: “Son, when I was a kid, I used to walk 20 feet, uphill both ways, without AC, to turn the channel!” Or, “When I was a kid, we used to have to climb to the top of the house, latch onto a dinosaur-sized antenna, and hang ourselves off the edge of the roof to tune in ALF, Miami Vice, or Magnum P.I.” But two cuss words would make all my death-defying roof antics for naught. (Thankfully ALF did not have a potty mouth. Crockett and Tubbs, on the other hand…)
While this was an annoyance for me growing up, I always knew it was coming. And when I heard that first cuss word on the stuff I really wanted to watch, I always slowly turned to see if Dad was paying attention and whispered a prayer. “God, he’s hard of hearing. Please let this one fall to his deaf ear. Amen.” God rarely answered.
And although this was always highly annoying, I knew where Dad stood. I knew where his lines were drawn. I knew he was uncomfortable with some things and his convictions caused him to take action even when we didn’t like it or agree with it. I never had a language problem. There were no f-bombs being accidentally dropped at our house. But Dad wasn’t doing it to protect us; he was doing it because it was a personal conviction for him. And as the priest of our home, he had every right to do it, and in fact, he probably had a responsibility to do it.
Having three children now, I have thought a lot about this. I knew where Dad drew his lines and it taught me that convictions are okay to have, and they should affect my actions. But do my kids know where I draw the lines? Do I even have lines drawn? I don’t recall ever shutting off a show for language, or for anything, really. If the kids are in the room and suggestive dialogue or steamy scenes takes place, I often pause the television and wait till the kids leave the room to continue watching. But what am I teaching them? It’s okay for me to see this, but not you? What kind of lesson is that? It’s not a lesson at all, I suppose. Or if it is, it’s certainly not a good one.
I understand that not everyone has a problem with foul language on television, or even using it themselves. But that’s not the point. The point is this: DO WE HAVE ANY LINES DRAWN? DO WE HAVE ANY PERSONAL CONVICTIONS AT ALL? This small annoyance while I was growing up has turned into a large life lesson for me. Dad had convictions. There were some things that were not okay for him and he acted on his convictions.
The questions this leaves me with are:
1) What are my convictions?
2) How do my convictions affect my actions (if at all)?
3) With no lines drawn, what am I teaching my children? Where will their lines be in twenty years, if I have NONE?
These are scary questions. I think I better start coming up with some answers that actually MEAN something, and allow those convictions to truly CHANGE the way I act.
But then, maybe it’s just me.Keep Reading! Turn Off The Screen, Turn On The Love The Dangers of Knowledge I MIss Mayberry