These words blazed across my television screen as the narrator whispered along with them in a provocative and seductive tone. What was I watching you ask? A commercial for school supplies!
I vaguely remember seeing a similar commercial once for ice cream — or was it bras— maybe shoes? My point being is that even though I try to monitor what my children watch on the television they are still bombarded with commercials that are oftentimes worse than the shows they are not allowed to watch.
I hit the mute button on the television and picked up some pencils and notebooks and made some overly-dramatic gestures to mock the commercial. After I finished having my crazy-mama moment, I shared a short lesson on the sneakiness of the adversary’s approach. I explained how he makes us think we need and want things of this world to take our mind off of what is important.
I told my children God provides them with what they need, and my husband and I give them what they want, if God decides they need it!
“Huh,” my daughter replied with one raised eyebrow and hands on her hips. “That’s not fair!” she whined.
“Sure, it is,” I teased.
After I finished getting a rise out of my daughter, which is very easy to do, I shared the verse from Mathew 6:19-20 (NIV) which says: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven.
To my surprise, they actually saw the craziness in the commercial presentation and did understand my concern; not so much about the part where I decide if they need what they want.
“It’s hard not wanting stuff— especially when stuff is all around,” my son said as he turned the rim of his new baseball cap toward the back of his head.
“Of course it’s not easy,” I agreed. “However, it is easier if we try to keep our eyes away from these commercials and see them for what they are.”
“You mean commercials are bad?” my inquisitive nine-year old daughter asked.
“They’re bad for you when they make you want things you can’t have. They’re bad when they misrepresent themselves.”
“What does that mean?” the inquisitive one asked again.
“Well— let’s just say that it’s when someone makes you think something is what it’s not or can do what it can’t. We don’t need the television to decide what we want or need, so let’s stop allowing it to do so,” I said as I started to become a bit weary from the unexpected teachable-moment.
“The television doesn’t make me want stuff— it shows me all the new stuff I can buy,” my daughter said, cleaving to the hope she’d keep getting new stuff.
“Don’t be smart,” I said. “You know exactly what I mean.”
She gave me one of her shifty, little smiles that let me know she did know exactly what I meant.
Although it is my responsibility, I can’t monitor every moment of my children’s day, but I try to pay more attention to the television when they are watching it. I hope my children have the sensibility to see beyond the images portrayed on the cable-connected, marketing-invader that entices them on a daily basis.
Incidentally, I have informed them that there is something they can do when one of those commercials casts it’s baited-hook through the T.V. screen hoping to reel them in with their well-thought out marketing schemes.
“Simply change the channel,” preferably to one that’s been approved by me or their dad. They hold the power to do so in the palm of their hand.