We love Lord of the Rings in my family. Yes, I know it is terribly violent. And the orcs and Gollum are physically painful for me to look at--so much so, that I don't watch the movie often. Too much hate and ugliness are in them. But . . . the story is full of courage and loyalty and teaches so many fabulous lessons, that I can't help but love it. It shows people doing hard things (impossible things!) and succeeding out of sheer grit. The lessons are innumerable, but here are just a few of the more obvious ones:
We have family discussions about all of this, plus much, much more. This movie is on the outside fringes of what I feel is ok for my family to watch--it's only because of the amazing lessons that I can overlook the violence in it. But there are many things we choose not to watch or read.
Some of you will disagree with my decision to let my children watch this movie, and others will approve wholeheartedly. In the conversation of what is appropriate for our children, and whether we are exposing them to too much or sheltering them too much, the answer will be different for every family.
I have one relative I love dearly who disagrees with me every time this issue comes up. She scoffs every time I talk about not wanting my kids to read a certain book or watch a certain movie. Or sometimes I will want to watch it, but will want it edited and she rolls her eyes.
"Your kids have to live in the real world. They're going to hear swear words and all sorts of other things at school, at restaurants...anywhere. Plus, the violence isn't really that big of deal. I let my kids watch stuff like that all the time and they aren't going around beating people up and killing them. What's the problem?" Now to be fair, this relative is a great mom and has awesome kids. We just disagree.
I personally love edited movies because we can watch popular movies and join the resulting conversations in society. We can see the good parts without feeling like we've been spiritually and emotionally assaulted.
But she has a point. I don't want my kids to gasp and be shocked every time someone around them swears. I want them to be able to lovingly interact with a variety of people with a variety of lifestyles and beliefs without feeling the need to level judgement on the person.
But I also feel the need to very clearly delineate for my children what is right and what is wrong. Black and white. There are grey areas in life sometimes, sure. But when everything becomes grey, there is no light. The movies we watch, the books we read--those characters become our friends. Just ask kids who like Harry Potter or Captain America and watch them get excited. Look at who they choose to dress up as for Halloween. These people, fictional or not, affect us for better or worse.
I ask my children to choose their friends wisely. So why would I consciously give them friends through entertainment who have premarital sex or commit adultery, live a party lifestyle and use unhealthy substances, swear and/or profane, and commit senseless violent acts--even if our kids are older?
It doesn't make sense to me. We become what and who we surround ourselves with.
Now, back to Lord of the Rings. When the conversation of sheltering came up in a facebook group that I belong to, I loved this response by Britt, a woman I have never met. This has shaped a lot of my thoughts about sheltering (or not).
"I believe strongly in the Shire. Raise your children in the Shire, a beautiful, abundant, natural environment, definitely protected . . . .Then, when they are asked to do hard things, they have that beauty to remember and inspire them. They KNOW there is good in the world worth fighting for because they were raised IN that good."
I love that! When you can see the difference clearly, you know what action to take. Frodo and Sam were inspired by the Shire. It gave them hope, it kept them going. What if they had grown up in a more grey area? Would they have noticed the gathering darkness? Would they say "that's just the way things are," not giving another thought? Could they have changed the world in that kind of environment?
Somehow, I don't think so. I think the contrast is important. That is why I try to create our own family Shire. I want to create a safe place, filled with light and love, where we keep darkness and evil at bay. Then when my children are grown, I hope that they will each create their own shires, and when they need to, travel outside to defend and fight for all that is good and right. Everyone's Shire will look different and different things will be allowed, but when we are mindful of what we choose to bring into our homes, I believe with all my heart that we change the world.
I just hope we never grow Hobbit feet. ;)
Community Question: How do YOU decide what to let in your home? Do you agree or disagree with the Shire mentality?
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