Saturday, March 5, 2016

Is Your Home a Haven or Entertainment Central?

I have always loved the piece of advice that was given to me as a newlywed:
Make your home a haven.

I totally agree.  I agree with the letter and the spirit of the sentiment.

What I am having trouble with is the way many Christians are putting "Making Your Home A Haven" into practice.  At least, what I have seen as a trend in the last, oh, eight or ten years.  Perhaps it has been a trend far longer and I have only been paying attention these last ten years.
amusement parks are fun, but you wouldn't want to live there

Instead of a peaceful home, a home that is filled with emotional support and contentment, we have instead interpreted a haven as entertainment central. In many ways, I believe that being filled to capacity with entertainment is the exact opposite of making our homes a haven.  And as a result, we have set our children up for massive disappointments.

Indulge me while I give a few examples of how we have become addicted to the entertainment of spectacle.

Big bashes that grow to outlandish proportions
Remember the shows that featured sweet sixteen parties and weddings each bigger than the one in the last episode?  Bridezillas and snobby mid-teeners became the norm, even expected and carefully coddled. While those shows may not have revolved around the average American, it gave the average American an appetite for it. And I have seen it in the lives of those I know IRL.  When swimming in the backyard pool is blase, then off to the water park we go. When that becomes the new normal, we look for someplace bigger and better and the upward swing continues.  Whatever happened to leaving the bashes for the big milestones?  There is nothing wrong with a family party on a way smaller scale for the in-between birthdays.

Infinite numbers of tv channels
Do you realize that in the US, a person can have 40 + sports channels alone?  Sports channels!  And of course we can't forget the music channels, movie channels and network channels.  We are inundated with tv viewing choices.  And if we aren't watching, we are made to feel as though we've missed out on something spectacular.  Didn't see the Grammy's?  You must not appreciate music.  Didn't watch the Superbowl? You must be unAmerican!

Binge watching TV
Okay, so maybe you aren't into a lot of channels.  But maybe you are like me.  And it's time for transparency here:  I love my Netflix subscription.  Love as in luuuuurve. Currently in my rotation are "The Assets," "When Calls the Heart" and "Fixer Upper."  My kids have seen every episode of "Good Luck Charlie," but if The Affectionate One turns it on, even the boys migrate from the other parts of the house to watch.

Celebrity and Awards Shows
The public's obsession with the plethora of award shows (especially for truly unremarkable achievements -- Kid's Choice Awards, anyone?) right on down to participation ribbons for showing up to jr high tennis practice has created what I like to call the "what about me?" syndrome.  If every somersault, every goal, every A+ isn't celebrated by ice cream, streamers and a photo on Facebook, then we are lead to believe it hasn't been properly recognized.  What ever happened to "Good job" and a slap on the back or a hug around the neck?  There is nothing wrong with "mere" verbal recognition on the everyday accomplishments.  Not everything has to include dramatic fanfare.

A week filled with "events" 
From teen nights, band concerts, going to the movies, play practice and town carnivals to the endless trips to the store to "dabble" in our latest hobby obsession.  Not to mention multiple sports practices and games for each child. Certainly, these things are good in moderation. But my goodness. We run around like our children's lives are a second and third career. We gear ourselves up and wear ourselves out running to and fro.

We seem to live for them.  We dream about them, save for them, devote lots of camera space to them and talk endlessly about them once they are over.  Nothing wrong with vacations.  It's important to recharge and every family has their own way of doing that.  But do they always have to get bigger and better? Seriously, once you have visited Disney, what do you do to top that for the next year?  Yet we try, don't we?

Whether it's on our phones or with a game console on our large screen tv, gaming has been both a babysitter and an escape starting with my generation. Gen Xers were the first latchkey kids and when the cat's away, the mice will play.  Gaming grew to be such a phenomenon that living in your parents' basement became the norm.  And if you ever got out on your own, moving back in with them was just a matter of course. Jobs in the gaming field exploded and are seen, to some, as more desirable than tradesmen and run of the mill IT jobs.

Social Media
There is much to be said on this topic, most of which has been addressed in various ways by others who are more clever than I.  I'm just gonna say this: not only do we strive to cram everything we possibly can into our lives, but then we put it on display for others to witness on Social Media. In and of itself, not such a bad thing when done in moderation.

Americans, generally speaking aren't know for their moderation. I'm just sayin'.

The Result

We see what others have done on social media sites that we haven't done and the danger is that we either become judgmental or jealous.  Perhaps we have a handle on this and can be happy for others when they post about their ninth Caribbean Cruise in as many years.

But what about our children?
-- Can they avoid comparing their friends' highlight reels to their own blooper reel?  We adults are so great at it, how can we expect our children to be any good at it? We generally look at our faults and compare them to another person's virtues. The same is true, to a greater degree, for our kids. Comparison leads to discontent and yet we claim that contentment is what we truly seek.

-- Have we taught them to refrain from thinking themselves better than someone else when they've done something they think is bigger and better? Pride is a dangerous, slippery slope.

-- Do they expect more and more from us and better and better for themselves every year? Ambition is fine. But couple that with a lack of moderation and a faulty world view and nothing is good enough. We are always thinking the next goal, the next job, the next house must be obtained to achieve happiness.

-- Are they let down when they aren't constantly stimulated with electronics? Our children have come to expect a frenetically paced lifestyle.

-- Do they look with disdain upon perfectly honorable jobs that involve manual labor?  These jobs are often left empty and yet the money to be earned spends the same way as the money from the more hoity-toity job titles.

It's quite sobering, I must say.

Next time we will explore some ways to combat the challenges and reverse the negative effects of these concerns. Hope you will find it worth while to check back.

Counting it all joy,

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4/24/2016

    A couple of my toes are bleeding. Just sayin'--LOL


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