My five-year old daughter is slowly but surely trying to introduce Hannah Montana into our household. When we’re at Wal-mart she’ll point out available Hannah Montana products, “Look dad, Hannah Montana lip gloss, Hannah Montana sleeping bags, Hannah Montana two-season snow tires.” When we play with her map of the United States and we put California in, she’ll remark, “That’s where Hannah Montana is from.” She’ll even name drop her when she’s talking about her friends, “My friend Lisa, who’s parents let her play with Hannah Montana stuff, wasn’t at school today.”
And maybe that’s not a big deal. We’ve excommunicated Caillou from our house, laid rest to the Wiggles and broken off peaceful negotiations with Barney. Maybe it’s time for another pop culture kid’s icon to move in.
But I’m not ready. I’m not ready for my five-year old to idolize someone that likes boys. Someone that dates and does teenage things. And as I wrestle with that, I’ve started to realize something surprising:
“I’m developing a secular culture parental filter.”
What’s that you say? A Secular Culture Parental Filter or SCPF is you will, is the filter Christian parents place on secular* culture to weed out all the negative influences. It typically catches things like “devil’s music” and R-rated movies and if you’re living in a tankini world, even two-piece bathing suits and mixed bathing.
I’ve always kind of laughed at the SCPF until I became a parent. Now I’m the one trying to filter out the nonsense that culture keeps trying to sell my kids. And it’s completely changed how I think about the entertainment approval process parents set up for their children. I can now respect the reasons parents get so focused on what outside influences are influencing their kids. But it still produces some funny moments. Here’s one my friend Bryan Allain, who will be doing a guest spot soon, told me recently. He calls it,
“The time I almost got to listen to Europe.”
“In junior high if I wanted to listen to a new band or album a friend gave me, I had to get it approved by my mom first. So I’d give it to her and she’d listen to it, and say either yay or nay depending on the lyrical content. I only remember 2 albums that went through this stringent test. The first was Milli Vanilli’s album. Though I don’t remember any spiritual goodness in the songs, apparently she thought they were so harmless she okayed it. The second album was Europe’s “The Final Countdown.”
I literally remember her going into her room and closing the door and listening to the cassette. I was pacing around the dining room and living room waiting for the verdict. At one point she called me in with an excited look on her face. She said, “Bryan, listen to this lyric right here. I think they are saying ‘believe in God’!” I was ecstatic. Europe had realized that by throwing in a Christian line into their songs, they were opening the door to thousands of Christian kids. Maybe they were closet Christians, and this was how they were going to make disciples of the whole world. We listened a few times to it. “I’m just not sure,” my mom said, “if that’s what they’re really saying.”
We listened to the line over and over again. It was from the song “The Final Countdown”. After maybe 6 or 7 listens we both looked at each other and knew the charade was up. They weren’t singing “Believe in God!”, they were singing “We’re leaving ground!”. Oh! So close! She went back to listening to the album. I went back to pacing. In the end, she denied it, saying there just wasn’t anything good in there for me to listen to. Oh well, I still had Rob and Fab, and I knew they would be around for a while.”
That’s Bryan’s story, what’s yours?
Do you have a SCPF in place for your kids?
Did your parents have a SCPF in place when you were growing up?
What did it catch? What did it miss?