Have you ever had one of those moments when your child says something to you and you think back on the mistakes that lead up to what they said? This happened to my wife and I on Sunday as we were on our way over to my parents house.

I couple weeks ago my son asked if he could watch the Disney movie Hercules. Now I’ve seen the move and it is enjoyable for what it is. It has good characters, a good plot, and of course, it’s Disney! But there is a problem with the film: Greek mythology.

As I’m sure you know the move is based upon the mythical lore of Hercules, who was the son of Zeus, and had incredible strength which he used to slay other mythical beings. One thing that the Disney version of the story does is make Hercules the son of Zeus and Hera, making it appear that he is the product of a loving family, and he is turned mortal by the minions of Hades. In reality (can I use that word when talking about a myth?) Hercules was the son of Zeus by a mortal woman, since Zeus was an unfaithful slime ball of a deity.

Anyway, lots of action, romance, and fun characters make the movie appealing to kids and of course the Disney label puts the parents at ease because, after all, we can trust the Mouse right?

My son’s commit was something like this, “I love Hercules…he’s a god!”

My wife and I just looked at each other and realized that we had majorly failed. We then had to sit down with our son and tell him that Hercules wasn’t real, there is no other god beside Jesus and that while the movie may have been fun, it’s not something we should love.

Wow. Just…wow. My wife and I talked that night about how we didn’t want him watching Hercules until he was much older and could understand the mythical nature of the story. Yet while the movie is what it is, the failure was on the part of my wife and I in not guarding our child and what he watches.

Now I’m not saying that we let our children watch anything. We are careful to avoid overly violent stuff, or things of a graphic nature. In fact the shows that we watch and enjoy we most watch after they are asleep because while our consciences are not bothered, it is something that they should not be exposed to until they are older.

So how does one correct such mistakes, or better yet avoid them all together?

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Prov 22:6

The first thing would have been to discuss it together as the parents before just giving a blanket “sure.” By discussing it before hand we could have talked to him about waiting until he was older, which we’ve done in the past, and waiting until he was mature enough to understand the content.

Second, one needs to understand the child. Our son is almost five, and he’s pretty mature, but there are somethings that maturity alone don’t fix. In this case our son needed more time to be grounded in our Christian faith before exposing him to other manners of thought. I’m not for sheltering our kids from everything, but as a parent there are some things that we should protect them from.

Third, I think we need to talk with our kids. In this case we had to have an “after action report” were we discussed what he had said. This of course is the wrong way to handle the situation. Perhaps a better way would be to sit down, when they are older, and talk about the movie before hand. Talk about the themes that they are going to see, the various characters and their types, about the world in which the movie is going to be taking place. Then after the movie discuss it again: ask them what they liked, what they thought it meant, and how, or even if, it should.

This goes beyond just movies though. I love The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and The Wheel of Time series. These are fantastic pieces of literature but with this current event it makes me consider when would be a good time to introduce my little ones to such works. I didn’t read The Hobbit until I was in Junior High, and The Wheel of Time when I was in High School.

Think about your life and the things that you allow in; don’t just blindly let anything come in and affect you, but think about and engage with the media around you. Maybe you’ll find that what you once really enjoyed, isn’t really worth it.

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