Saturday, August 9, 2008

We “Moo” At Bad Words!

Since having children, my wife and I have marveled at our increased sensitivity to bad language from outside sources. Several times, we have rented “old” movies that we watched while growing up, with the intent to show them to our children. I think we hoped to see the same excitement and wonder on our children’s faces that we experienced in our youth while watching the original Star Wars trilogy.

Imagine our surprise during some of these viewings when foul language erupted from the television, followed by questioning looks from our children and winces from the parents. Does this sound familiar? In my youth, I honestly don’t remember the amount of foul language that was spoken in such seemingly-innocent shows as Back To The Future or the TV-series Full House. My genuine recollection is that these were wholesome, rated-G shows that our family could enjoy together. Call me radical, but they are neither wholesome nor appropriate for young viewers. At this rate, I’m pretty sure that I’m going to be Amish in another five years.

In addition to “bad-language sources” that can be turned off with a remote control, we are constantly exposed to it from places that are harder to get away from – the person in line behind us at the grocery store, the rowdy fan next to us at the ball game, or even the occasional family relative who doesn’t have a godly background but who is captive in our house for the holidays. No, Mike, I’m not talking about you.

I struggled with how to handle this for a number of years – from physically removing our children from the situation, to turning off the television, to exchanging glances with the kids in order to communicate our disapproval. Then, one day, an idea struck me that has had a tremendous impact on our family life.

We “Moo” at bad words.

I honestly don’t know how we thought of this approach, but I remember it was while watching a movie where one of the characters uttered a bad word. There was an uncomfortable silence in the room as our family digested the moment, and then my oldest daughter said it. “Moo!” As in what cows say when they are...well, it’s the only thing they say. The family looked around with raised eyebrows, and I took a moment to pause the movie and begin one of my fatherly speeches. “It is so hard for me and Mommy to control everything that our family hears, so I have an idea. Wouldn’t it be neat for all of us to “Moo” whenever we hear a bad word? It would be our way of recognizing an inappropriate comment, and cover it with something a little funny, instead of the family just trying to ignore the word.”

The rest is history. This practice has changed our lives because it gives our whole family a sense of rightness and unity whenever those around us behave inappropriately. At times, it’s a race to see who can say “Moo” first. My oldest daughter Molly has let an audible “Moo” slip out a time or two when among teenage friends, only to receive some very strange looks. She’s not apologetic about it. Our family has also expanded the practice into other areas. We “Moo” (quietly) at the store when we see others dressed inappropriately. I “Moo” while on conference calls at work (with the phone on mute). We’ve even passed the “Moo” tradition on to our beloved cousin Hana when she came to visit us for two weeks this summer. I expect portions of Indiana are hearing the “Moo” from her regularly. At this pace, it could become a national trend.

I would prefer to keep my children away from bad influences entirely. I don’t see how that is practical or even possible, as the events are sometimes beyond our control. What I can do is to instill a sense of what is right and wrong in my children. When they leave our immediate care, they are not readily influenced by the world, but have been equipped with the tools to counter what they hear and perhaps even cast a little salt and light into the world. Saying “Moo” to bad words may sound silly and ineffective. But…..

…..I dare you to try it for a week and see if it changes your family like it has mine.

1 comment:

Tamara said...

Okay, you're a radical.