My daughter walked into the living room just as Beyonce started her halftime performance at the Super Bowl. But instead of changing the channel, I decided to let her sit on my lap and we watched the pop star together. I had the remote control in the other hand in case Mrs. Jay-Z pulled a Janet Jackson on all of us.
I told my daughter that Beyonce was a popular singer and was part of a pop group before she (my daughter) was born. She recognized some of the songs and was pleased to discover the singer behind the songs she sometimes hears from her friends. After the performance, I asked her what she thought of the show.
She said, “I like her songs and the singing but I don’t like her clothes . . . it’s showing too much.” (In my mind I did the Macauley Culkin’s “Yes!” gesture from “Home Alone”). I felt like a winner because I realized at that moment my daughter gets what modesty is and the standard of decency we set in our family.
Every year, anticipation for the Super Bowl is high. Millions of people including children are tuned in. But what should parents do, if the largest sport and cultural event of the year is also the largest spectacle of inappropriateness on TV, with suggestive commercials and sexually charged halftime show performances?
An accidental viewing of explicit images, if unaddressed, can lead to more curiosity and eventually addiction to pornography. I should know; I used to struggle with addiction to pornography myself, after being exposed to porn at a young age. For 12 years now, I’ve experienced true freedom from it, but I remember the shame and hopelessness brought about by pornography. It’s a torment that people should not experience, especially children.
The good news is, there are ways to protect our children. Monitoring and filtering software, password sharing, Internet/TV use schedule, setting up media use guidelines, and age-appropriate sex education at home are excellent ways to guard our children from pornography.
And if ever your children accidentally are exposed to such images, please don’t panic and overreact. Don’t run away from the situation, but use it as an opportunity to bring this problem out and gently talk to them about healthy boundaries. To keep this problem hidden from your children will only breed more inquisitiveness and secrecy.
But the best way to protect our children is to strengthen our relationship with them, to be part of their lives and exercise honesty and open communication. This will build character that's essential for them to know what’s right and wrong and develop the strength to say no. More importantly, I need to train by example by making sure I myself practice what I preach and consume only the kind of media that is safe for the whole family. My children are watching me.