Started on March 21, 2008 as a reaction to the wildly popular blog Stuff White People Like which was created by Christian Lander, Stuff Christians Like is a blog about the funny things we Christians do. And what they just might reveal about our faith.
The site is written by Jonathan Acuff, a preacher’s kid/copywriter who lives in Atlanta with his wife and two kids. Zondervan is publishing the Stuff Christians Like book in April 2010 but you can pre-order it on Amazon.com right now, right here.
Jon has many hilarious insights into Christianity and asks thought provoking questions about how we are really living out our faith. Some of his posts are:
Today's post was actually by a guest, Lyndsay Rush. And it is entitled:
#751: Having your life edited by your parents.
(I’ve never met Lyndsay Rush, but I have to confess I am a big fan of her motto, “No cheese left behind.” As a fan of queso, that is a motto I can get on board with. I can also get on board with her tale of having her life edited by her parents, something I’ve said my in-laws were pros at. I hope you dig it. I did.)
I’d like to start this post with a simple, three question test. Please answer honestly.
1. Have you ever been forced to walk out of a movie because your mom thought there were hints of sorcery?
2. Have you ever called your parents from a sleepover to ask permission to play “Girl Talk”?
3. Have you ever listened to Psalty the Singing Songbook on your walkman?
If you answered yes to any of the 3 questions, congratulations, you have had your life edited by your parents. And unfortunately, my childhood is the perfect example of that.
Whether our parents were scolding us for saying that something “sucked,” forcing us to spend copious amounts of time serving Meals on Wheels or telling us to “write a play” or “climb a tree” when we asked to watch TV, not a stone remained unturned when it came to ensuring our lifestyle lined up with biblical standards. (How exactly My Little Pony conflicted with the Bible, I am still not sure).
When it came to all things media-related, our parents tended to go bat-shucks crazy (note my use of parentally approved slang). Television, music and movies were seen as the #1 threat to our holy castle. I recall distinctly our family rule of parent-screenings for any show we wanted to watch. In a ceremony that rivaled that of the presidential inauguration, Mom and Dad would take their seats in front of the television at the appropriate time, turn to the appropriate channel, and take notes while we looked on in dismay, our heads ping-ponging back and forth between Blossom/90201/My So Called Life/The Smurfs/Dinosaurs/Dawson’s Creek and our parent’s beady eyes as they took in every detail and noted its varying levels of inappropriateness. For those of you keeping score at home we lost out on all of the above. It didn’t help that the night of our 90210 screening Donna lost her virginity or that when we screened Dinosaurs, Mom talked for weeks about how disrespectful those dinosaur kids were to their dinosaur parents.
Nary a movie, song or TV show was safe in the Rush household. ‘Twas a dangerous place to be if you were Pee Wee Herman, “Grease” or any secular music not found on the Oldies or Lite radio station.
Our reaction usually started out with obedience–reluctant obedience, yes–but obedience nonetheless. Sure there was your typical “This is SO unfair!” followed promptly by a “You guys are the WORST” and a slamming of a bedroom door. But when we were younger, we didn’t really see the fruits of putting up a fight so we just went with it. Later in life, to our parent’s dismay, there were accidental moments of rebellion. For instance, when I was 11 I yelled “Holy Testicle Tuesday!” at a family BBQ because our dubbed version of “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” didn’t bleep out the word ‘testicle’. (It took me another 6 years thereafter to discover that ‘testicle’ was not, in fact a curse word.) A few years later, we got investigated by AOL because I had inadvertently created a screen name that was slang for an illegal street drug. Finally, as we became teenagers, we entered into the full-blown, “oh no you didn’t”, straight up, dirty-south rebellion years. At this point in my life I was fed up with the strong arm of the Old Testament law constantly hammering down on my life so I responded like any good Christian girl would: by dancing.
That’s right, I danced. My friends and I would go to 16 + dance clubs in downtown Minneapolis under the rouse that we were bowling. Yes, I realize this is the worst cover we could have come up with, but it worked. We would stuff our purses with a change of clothes–black pants and sparkle-y tube tops–and change in the car. When my dad found out what was really going on I don’t know what he was more upset with, the fact that I had been lying or the fact that I wasn’t actually interested in bowling.
I believe this provides a brief but potent glimpse into a parentally-edited, culturally-censored, Biblically-biased childhood. You know what they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, or as my Christian parents would say, ‘what doesn’t kill your flesh (without affecting your soul, which will dwell in eternity in heaven with Jesus), makes you more like Sampson’.
(For more great stuff from Lyndsay, check out her site, http://www.lyndsights.com/)
I loved this post because some of it was a commentary of my own life, but, I was waiting for the conclusion. I wanted to say, "So?" Was all the editing good or bad? Are you permanently scarred or happy that you weren't exposed to premarital sex and violent video games when you were 7 years old? Many of the comments after the post answer those questions and you can read them here. Some former "editors" even commented. Did you know there are people who were never allowed to watch Sesame Street because of The Count? Wow!
Personally, looking back I think some of the editing my parents did was pretty ridiculous and some of it was necessary. I didn't need to be going to R rated movies (especially back then when R meant lots of horrible language and plenty of sexual content) or watching 90210 (not that I ever remember wanting to anyway). On the other hand getting in trouble for humming the tune to a beer commercial does seem a little overboard. Even though others in our church and family disagreed with it we were allowed to play card games and swim in our pool (but not the public pool) with the opposite sex. We watched Smurfs and He-Man (I know, shocker) and all kinds of other shows about magic, etc, like The Wizard of Oz and I can't see that it hurt any of us at all. As a matter of fact the things we didn't watch/listen to/participate in didn't hurt us any either.
I don't feel like I missed out on any of the great pop-culture of my day. So what if the only concert I've ever been to was The Beach Boys (in 1995) and I have no idea "Who shot J.R."? I never got to wear short shorts or tank tops either, but I think I still have an ok sense of fashion. At least I did get to go to Prom...mostly because I wore a humongous hoop skirted dress (everybody did, I wasn't that lame) that wouldn't allow the boys within a 3 foot radius of me and we did not have any "popular" music. We had a live orchestra that played big band music. Post prom had the vulgar dancing and rock music. Yeah, I didn't get to go to Post Prom. Having a 10:30 curfew as a senior in high school was frustrating, but once again, I'm no worse off for it.
I never felt the need to rebel from these exacting standards. Granted, my parents weren't the My Little Pony nazis that some people I knew were, but they still seemed to arbitrarily decided what was inappropriate (like Petra) without ever investigating it themselves. Through it all I understood that my parents loved me and wanted to protect me. I never thought they were out to get me and spoil all of my fun, but I did resent the fact that they didn't trust me.
So, what about you? What kind of restrictions did you have growing up? Did you resent them? Do you find that they have affected your adult life for the better or worse? How much do you edit your kids?