This week Doug Fields posted an article of mine on his blog encouraging parents to use the “pause button,” the “fast forward button”… and even the “off button” on their TV remotes as they co-view media with kids. Which button does Fox’s Glee require?
Parents that took time to even notice the show’s content this week are debating the appropriateness. The PTC is outraged (as always), and articles are beginning to emerge asking relevant questions, like this article from Time, What Teen Sex on Glee Really Teaches Kids.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Glee address the subject of teenagers losing their virginity. In the 15th episode of Season One, an episode titled “The Power of Madonna,” Glee introduced the same scenario when three couples faced the decision to lose their virginity (the episode was watched by 12.98 million American viewers and was critically acclaimed). After a dream sequence performance of Madonna’s Like a Virgin, two of these teenagers took the plunge and “went all the way” (Finn and Santana), while others didn’t (Rachel, for example).
At this point some parents began questioning whether Glee was appropriate viewing for teens and tweens. Instead of giving a dogmatic stamp of approval or disapproval, I responded with a rather detailed Youth Culture Window article, To Glee or not to Glee, encouraging parents to think biblically about Glee and look for biblical guidance.
Interestingly enough… parents continued to ask me, “Do you let your kids watch Glee?”
That’s a great question.
I’ll be honest. I don’t usually like to tell parents, “Let your kids watch SHOW A, but don’t let your kids watch SHOW B!” This robs parents the opportunity to teach discernment and robs kids the opportunity of learning to discern for themselves.
Yes, there are some shows that clearly necessitate the “off button,” shows like Jersey Shore and Two and a Half Men. But discernment isn’t always that easy. What about shows like American Idol? (a question I asked in the article Doug posted)
Ever since Little House on the Prairie left prime time, teaching discernment has grown a little more difficult during family hour on television. In a world where Two and a Half Men is repeatedly the #1 show of the week, and Jersey Shore is the #1 cable show, caring parents are hard-pressed to find anything appropriate to watch with their kids.
Sadly, I see two polar extremes rise to the surface:
- The Overly-Permissive Parent—this mom let’s her kids do anything, watch anything, stay out as late as they want… after all, they’ve gotta grow up sometime! “If you’re gonna drink with your friends, do it here! Then at least you’ll be safe!” These kids don’t just watch Jersey Shore, they watch the sexually explicit and gratuitously violent True Blood on HBO. These kids never learn to discern; they are taught the subtle message that “everything’s okay.”
- The Puritanistic Parent—this mom doesn’t let her kids do anything! No TV, no music (“especially not that Contemporary Christian… the devil’s music!), skirts will go down past the ankles, after all, “This isn’t the house of Jezebel!” These kids don’t watch anything at home… they sneak to their friends houses to watch it! (I listen to the complaints of these kids all the time at camps and conferences across the country!) The puritanistic parent never teaches their kids to discern. They hope that protecting them from the world will save them from it. Sadly, when these kids turn 18, they often rebel and “sew their wild oats.”
Do we have to gravitate toward either of these extremes?
Funny… after Doug posted my article about parents using the remote, we started to see comments and receive emails from parents saying, “Kids are gonna watch what they’re gonna watch!” And then from the opposite end of the spectrum… “The TV stays off at our house!!!”
Are these really our only two choices?
It’s growingly difficult to teach our kids positive media decisions today, and shows like Glee really put the pressure on parents. Young people love the show and hear about it around every corner. After all, it’s very well done and it speaks to their world. Heck… adults love the show! The guest stars are usually a big draw, the writing is compelling and the music is usually amazing. It was the number two show at the 8 o’clock hour again this last Tuesday night. Let’s be honest. It’s difficult to be the only parent at the PTA meeting that doesn’t let their kids watch the show.
So do I cave and let my kids watch it?
Last year, during the writing of my first article, To Glee or Not to Glee, I watched the whole season in about one week’s time (I don’t like to write about something I haven’t seen first hand). During that week my girls would walk in and say, “Oh wow! Is this Glee?!! Can I watch it with you!” I never said “no” to them during that week. We probably watched at least three or four episodes together, often hitting the pause button to dialogue about what we saw.
When Season 2 began, I watched a couple episodes with my wife, curious of the direction that the show would go.
Yes… my kids and I had some great discussions about some of those Season One episodes. Yes, co-viewing media with our kids is a very good practice… but where is the line? Should I rent all the American Pie films and co-view those with my kids?
I’ll make an exception this time and tell you what I decided with Glee. This doesn’t mean it’s the right answer, I’m sure opinions will vary, I can’t even say I’m always consistent…. but as for me, Glee gets the “off button” in our house.
What about you?
What have you decided about Glee?
How do you set realistic guidelines while still preparing our kids for real-world decisions when they’re on their own?