Our son has a sleep disorder. If you search for the topic “sleep” on my blog, you’ll see over six years’ worth of sleep woes. There is no cure for his parasomnia, but it is mostly manageable at this point.
One of the ways we manage it is by severely limiting what he is allowed to see or play on screens.
For example…he has never been to a movie theatre. I can probably count on both hands the number of television shows he has watched that contained commercials. He has maybe a dozen shows on Netflix he is allowed to watch, and a handful of DVDs (not including his still much beloved Veggie Tales).
This leads, frequently, to us being accused by others, of being “overprotective.” To them I say: Yes. We shelter our child. It is our job as his parents to shelter him, to protect him, to make sure he grows up the right way.
When Little Man was about eighteen months old, and I was exceptionally tired, I called a friend of mine who had six boys. She had mentioned in passing that one of her boys hadn’t really ever slept through the night, and I was desperate for help. Their son couldn’t process the difference between reality and fantasy (what was happening on screens). At the time of our conversation, he was elementary school aged, and he still was limited in his television viewing and video game choices. And he was child #4 out of six. If he watched too much television, or the wrong thing, his brain thought it was real, and he had nightmares. We quickly realized our son is the same.
In October we visited some family, with children a little older than our son. They wanted to go in the basement (unsupervised) and watch a movie. I vetoed five or six movies before I finally relented on the LEGO movie. I won’t spoil anything, but nightmares were had. Later, the oldest turned on the television and was watching a Harry Potter movie (she’s only 7, by the way). I spent most of my visit that weekend in the basement, monitoring the kids, and making sure the television was off.
I was not terribly popular with anyone that weekend.
We haven’t seen the new “Star Wars” movie. We didn’t see “The Good Dinosaur.” I have no idea what television shows are still on network television, and I rarely know what all the current uproar is on social media.
(sidenote: this is also a major reason we homeschool. our neighbor boy was watching a certain rated-M zombie show at the age of 4 and telling out son all about it. once. we don’t need him gone eight hours a day having his head filled with who knows what. and while I was writing this, this news broke. we will definitely be protecting our son now.)
We believe that God placed our son in our care, especially because of the circumstances surrounding his adoption. We don’t ever want to take for granted that thought, and we believe that God commands parents to protect their children. Heidi St. John says no one ever mocks a farmer for building a barn for his baby animals, or making sure his baby seedling crops are sheltered from storms. Yet society mocks parents for “sheltering” or “overprotecting” children – children who are in no way prepared emotionally, mentally, or spiritually for the things life throws at them without a break.
Why wouldn’t we shelter our children – the most precious gifts God gives us?
So, yes, we might have the only six year old in America who didn’t see the new Star Wars film – and won’t for another few years. He’s not allowed unfettered access to the television, the wii, our electronic devices. We heavily monitor every movie, television show, and video game he wants to watch or play. And we will, until he is ready for more freedom.
But until then?
His little heart is our responsibility, and he certainly can’t guard it on his own, so we will.