Watching TV is a very popular pastime in our country. Companies have done research on this topic, asking, How many hours do Australians spend watching television? The results may astound you: Australian kids as young as 3 years of age are watching 9 hours-per-week, while a typical teenager watches about 4 hours-a-day. And many of us adults sit down to watch 3 hours every day.
Some people are very concerned about these statistics, because it asks the question: What else could we be doing to get exercise and fresh air? A fair enough comment.
- Is television and movies teaching something we are not aware of?
- What about our children—what effect is it having?
Sometimes violence is portrayed in movies, and child psychologist Dr Debra Kowalski in the United States has written this:
If your child is watching television and you see something inappropriate that’s coming around the bend and you interfere with that and stop it, you’ve given that child a very important message: you’ve taught them that that is not appropriate for them. If a parent goes with a child to a movie theatre and there’s something inappropriate that’s coming on the screen and the parent says, “This isn’t for you to see, let’s leave,” and takes the child out, that’s a profound message to the child.
The Source of Our Values
But there’s more to it than that—the parent is introducing values to the child. And that’s what I want to talk about today. Values:
- Where do we get our values from?
- Do they come from the TV screen, or magazines we read?
It’s not always talked about, until something goes wrong.
Think about childhood for a moment. The first thing a baby remembers is his or her mother—the mother’s heart beat, her voice—she becomes that child’s window to the world. Experts say it’s crucial for a baby’s first 12 months to have that close bond to the mother.
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Look at your own life for a moment. Where did you learn your values? From loving parents and family? From school? From other people?
There’s the old saying, Tell me who your friend is and I will tell you who you are. I don’t think that is totally accurate, but there is some truth there just the same.
We become like the people we mix with—we take in their values and make them our own. That’s why it’s so important to guard our thoughts. Psychologists say your way of thinking makes you who you are. We can change our values, and re-learn old and unhelpful habits.
Do you automatically follow the values taught you by your parents, or were you left to find out yourself? And what is it that we value the most in life? These are big questions, aren’t they?
Ralph Waldo Emerson once famously said, “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” Maybe that’s why the Bible says in Proverbs 4:23 (CEV), “Carefully guard your thoughts, because they are the source of true life”.
Beliefs In Action
And Paul wrote to young Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:16 (TLB), “Keep a close watch on all you do and think”. And that means discovering what is really valuable in life. Many people don’t really know what matters most to them. You have a hard time working out how to spend your time, money and energy. You wonder, Who am I really? You seem confused about lots of issues in life. I think at one time or another all of us feel like that.
I think values are beliefs in action. That means, values are not just what we say are the most important things—or what we prefer. They are things that we hold onto very strongly—like respect, integrity, trust, relationships, adventure, image, service, security, faith, family, health, comfort.
And the list can go on. But underneath, I ask, What do I really believe as the most important thing in my life?