By Mindy Jones, Crosswalk.com
As Christian parents, God has entrusted to us the most beautiful gifts we've ever relieved - our children! And we are the gatekeepers of our home, meaning we are the ones who can filter what comes in and what comes out. We can't control what happens out in the world, but we CAN control what happens in our home to a certain extent. It's important to remember that God is 100% in control, not us. But, He does entrust us with tasks such as making sure we take care of our home and instill godly things in our children.
But don't take my word for it! Let's look at Scripture, specifically Proverbs 31:27-28 (NIV):
"She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed."
Notice in verse 27 where it says, "She watches over the affairs of her household." This means she is aware of what's coming in her home, including what our kids are viewing with their eyes and hearing with their ears.
While having a good list of Christian TV shows for kids can help put you at ease, there are some secular shows that can still be great for kids to watch! You want to make sure you look out for specific things before letting your kids watch them. It's also best to check out a show before your kid watches it. So any new shows or movies that come out, you can either watch them first or do research and come up with a conclusion on your own.
Why should you check out these shows and movies first? Rather than letting your kids watch something, realizing it's saying some things or digging into concepts you don't want your kids to view, and then telling them no, they can't watch it after. Screening kids' TV before they see it helps avoid arguments or disunity and anything they may have soaked up from an inappropriate show before! It also helps you and your spouse be on the same page and create a united front. If your kids ask why they can't watch certain things, tell them the truth.
I usually tell my daughter something similar to this:
"It's Mommy and Daddy's job to make sure that we are helping you grow in godliness. This means that sometimes we can't watch or do certain things that the world does, even if it doesn't make sense. God entrusted you to us, and we want to make sure as a family that we are glorifying Him in all that we do, and this show/movie doesn't help us to do that."
Depending on the movie or show, sometimes we will go into slightly more detail of why, but that gets the point across and helps her understand that we love her and God loves her, and the most important thing is to do things that will glorify Him. These things may not seem like a big deal to most people - what does it matter what my child watches as long as it's for kids and not rated R, right? Kids are like sponges! They soak in everything, good and bad. So let's help them with the good, shall we? Here are some things you want to look for when selecting secular shows for your kids to watch:
Good Morals: What kind of morals is this show teaching? Are they geared more towards worldly influences, or can they be tied back to Scripture?
Also, make sure it doesn't focus heavily on the problem/bad guys. I notice when we watch shows that have a minor problem and focus on the positive and the solution, my daughter remembers that more so and emulates that behavior. However, when we watch something that focuses more on the problem, she tends to pick that up and focus only on the fact that there is a "bad guy" or villain.
Educational/Life Skills: This is when shows focus more on learning and educational value than teaching concepts or watching for entertainment. So essentially, shows that help them learn letters, numbers, colors, shapes, phonics, etc., but in a fun and interactive way.
Language and Concepts: Is the language clean? Are there unkind words that I wouldn't want my child to repeat? Also, what kind of concepts are they teaching? For example, when someone is bullying, talking to strangers, going to the doctor, etc. You may want to make sure the language in the show is filled with things that you don't have to question, hesitate or do a double-take if your child repeats it.
Also, is there anything unbiblical that goes against what the Bible says? For example, does it talk about concepts such as witchcraft, magic, or sorcery? These are concepts that you would want to avoid in shows. Now that you have looked over these tips and can keep an eye out on what to look for and what to look out for in secular shows, here are five secular shows you can feel great about your kids watching. These are perfect for preschool age and older!
*We personally watch or have watched these and feel okay with our daughter watching them!
1. Elinor Wonders Why – PBS Kids
This show is absolutely wonderful! There are no bad guys, villains, heavy plots, or anything like that. It's a show about a group of kids (animals) that explore different questions that most kids may have.
Some of the questions they talk about are:
• What happens to leaves when they fall off the trees?
• Why do birds sing?
• How do bees help flowers?
• Where does paper come from?
The animation is also great; it's filled with relaxing pastel colors, soft images, and music. It's very nature-inspired and a great show to keep the kid's attention while still learning good morals and interesting facts! One character is very silly but in a fun and playful way.
It keeps your kids' attention and promotes exploring and asking questions they may have about the world around them. We would highly recommend this show.
2. Super Why – PBS Kids
Super Why has been around for a while and is a great educational show for your kids to watch! It focuses on different classic stories and tales such as red riding hood, little boy blue, etc. Each of the main characters makes up a team of "super readers" who dig into stories to help change words, add words, and solve some problem or question posed at the beginning of the show.
It focuses heavily on learning the alphabet, basic phonic sounds, and spelling! This show is also interactive, meaning they ask questions to the audience, which helps reiterate what they are learning.
3. Daniel Tiger – PBS Kids
This show has been a great one to watch for us. It teaches kids basic skills such as empathy, interacting with others, life skills, welcoming new siblings, going to school, the doctor, etc. - so many things!
The jingles and tunes help kids remember basic things such as washing their hands, learning to share, and much more. We have sung the songs a time or two, so it's been very beneficial! The values are good and can help hit home when you are teaching your kids about the world around them and fun tips and jingle to deal with daily life-type things.
4. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – Disney
This show would definitely be aimed toward younger preschool-aged children and is very educational. Most kids are familiar with Mickey Mouse, and this show helps them learn basic things such as counting, letters, numbers, and fundamental concepts in fun ways.
This show is interactive as well, giving your kids choices to say aloud what they are learning, and it's a lot of fun for them! Not to mention, they will love the "hotdog" song – if you know, you know!
5. Veggie Tales In The City – Netflix
Wait a minute, isn't Veggie Tales a Christian show? Yes, the original is, but this new version still keeps a Christian aspect but is geared towards being a secular show.
It is broken down into 25-minute episodes with two parts. So the new format is a little more fast-paced and explores the "city" in the kitchen where the old show took place. The show still ends with Bob and Larry saying, "Remember kids, God made you special, and He loves you very much," and I love that that godly aspect was kept in! You won't see silly songs with Larry, but kids will still love this show and the beloved characters.
Here are some other great Christian alternatives to Disney and PBS if you are looking for more Christ-centered shows for your kids to watch.
I hope this list helps you breathe a little easier when it comes to what you should and shouldn't let your kids watch and gives you some practical options that you can feel comfortable with them seeing!
Mindy Jones is a Christ-follower, loving wife, and stay-at-home mom. She is a graduate of Campbellsville University with a Major in Business Administration and a love for writing. Her mission is to guide Christian moms in being more intentional in their faith, family, and homes with practical tips and authenticity! She hopes to inspire moms to be fervent in raising children who love the Lord, offering tons of activities and resources to do so on her website, Mindy Jones Blog.