Three Ways to Keep Our Kids "Spoiler-Free"
It's been said that R2D2 is the most vulgar movie character of all-time.
After all, the director bleeped out every single word he said.
(Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...)
Recently I took my oldest son with me to see the first show on opening night of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. According to him, it was "the best day ever."
It's not the first time he's said this. We've had many experiences over the years that qualified as "the best day ever." Every time he's made this claim, there's been one common theme: They've all been something we've never done before, and he had no preconceived expectations.
I call them "spoiler-free" moments.
Creating these moments isn't easy to accomplish when it comes to movies. These days just walking down the toy aisle at Wal-Mart will spoil a movie's plot through the merchandise alone, not to mention movie trailers and commercials.
But somehow we avoided all of that with Star Wars.
Finally, the big moment arrived. The theater dimmed as one of the most famous opening lines of a movie emerged on the screen:
"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."
A silent giddiness consumed the theater.
I leaned over to my son and whispered, "Remember this moment."
As the Star Wars logo filled the screen, he yelled out "WOO-HOO!" and soon the whole theater joined in. He leaned over to me and said, "I started that!"
From there, we were caught up in the epic story from start to finish.
I could tell during our ride home how much he'd gotten out of the experience. I asked him, "How did it feel not knowing anything going in?"
He replied, "It was so hard to avoid it all, but I'm so glad I did. I felt like I almost saw something in a magazine about it and I was mad because I didn't want to ruin the movie. I've had that happen before where I felt like there weren't any surprises going in, but this time it was different. Seriously, one of the best days of my life!"
The analogy was obvious, and I couldn't resist the opportunity for a lesson.
"You know," I began, "a lot of things in life are going to be like that. A lot of people won't think twice about spoiling things that should be saved for the right moment. It could be something like sex before marriage or the way we trust the authority in our life. Tonight you experienced the joy of waiting and not ruining something ahead of time. Do you understand the parallels?"
He nodded. It got deep.
I'm certainly not an expert on this, but as I looked back on the night I thought of three things that help my son stay spoiler-free.
Three Ways to Keep Our Kids "Spoiler-Free"
- Age-appropriateness: I remember wanting to take my son to see the last Star Wars movie that came out but he was four-years-old at the time and that film was darker in tone. Skipping that and waiting ten years so he could be the right age to experience Star Wars in the theater was worth it. Part of parenting is keeping our kids innocent of evil and darkness as long as possible. Though it can be tempting to think our kids "can handle it," we're invited by God to help them stay sensitive to sin, profanity, sex and violence.
- Investing in what's honorable: We had to budget for the tickets, concessions, and dinner for our event to happen, but it was worth the celebration. It gave me a chance to affirm my son's good habits with a fun night out. While not every great choice or habit needs fanfare, surprising our kids with unexpected celebrations or ceremonies is powerful. Saying "I'm inspired by how hard you've been working at school this year" or "The way you're generous with others really blesses so many people," accompanied by a special event, can really affirm good habits. (Check out some of the Family Faith Celebrations that you can take part in with your kids for additional ideas.)
- Living spoiler-free, too: Our kids may hear our words, but they will listen to our lives. If we're not endorsing the values coming out of our mouths with the choices we make, then they won't believe in them anymore than we do. Just as God has in mind the kind of future adult your kid can become, he has something incredible for you, too. Consider (and perhaps write down) how he might want you to grow as you attempt to grow your kid.
Epic galactic movies aside, helping our kids be "spoiler-free" doesn't mean they won't make mistakes and rush into experiences prematurely. But by helping them practice self-control in small things like movies, perhaps they'll be able to save the larger things (like sex for marriage) with greater enthusiasm since they'll know the value of delayed gratification.
And perhaps that will lead to multiple "best days ever" with their future spouse and kids.
What tips, thoughts, or hopes do you have on this?