I have a question.. my boy is 5, 6 in two weeks and has an obsession with all things spooky. I allow him to do pirates and we read up on ancient Egypt and use the Horrible Histories series to fuel this ‘addiction’ (because it really does feel like that), but it isn’t diluting his passion. He knows we don’t do Halloween yet he feels frustrated about it and makes a huge issue over it. I allow him to watch SOME kids’ TV but not certain things like vampires, magic, or wizards/witches, etc). He questions my decision constantly, whines and gets really frustrated like I’m punishing him for no reason. I’ve explained why and he loves Jesus with all his little heart… but I can’t tell if this is a rebellion issue or some strange desire for darkness!! Thoughts please!
Boys love adrenalin! Well, at least most of them do at some time or another. They love excitement and engagement. They love debating and arguing. They love to try their strength against the world. They love explosions and destruction (at least it seems so). They love to take risks. Sometimes they even like to be scared.
Why? It sure doesn’t make much sense to their moms! Our mantra is “Be Careful,” right?
But, God made them that way. He made them adventurous. Here’s the way we put it in our book:
The trick is to get them to adulthood without scarred minds or bodies! And sometimes, that’s not easy! We’ll talk about keeping their bodies safe another time (or you can get our book here), but your question is about taking care of his mind – and soul. You’re right to make sure that his desire for adventure follows that God-honoring course. Here’s what we’d do:
Remember that God is concerned about our hearts. We hear people say all the time, “It’s just pretend!” but when we read the verses about lust in the heart being adultery and hate in the heart being murder, we realize that’s a pretty thin excuse. What matters is what we’re thinking. We can’t play with evil: “Fools mock at sin.” Proverbs 14:9
Explain that as interesting or exciting as something may be, if it’s displeasing to God it’s got to go. There’s no substitute for the Word of God here – it can reach our children’s hearts in a way our words can’t, so use it to show him that most of those “spooky” things like witchcraft, ghosts, demons, and obsession with death celebrate things which are clearly evil and unhealthy. This article gives you the references you’ll need.
Point him to the the right kind of adventure. Stories of explorers, warriors, and missionaries can fill that desire for thrills and excitement while showing him what risk-taking was made for. We especially like missionary stories because they “show them it’s not the sinners that have the best adventures.” (Raising Real Men, p41)
Stay strong. These things pass, they really do, especially if you’re firm and redirect it. Usually when children are running this kind of constant campaign, it’s because the parents aren’t confident what they’re doing is right, so the kids sense the uncertainty and think “maybe if I try a little harder…” Looking into what the Word says about things can help you, too.
For more on both adventurousness and giving our boys a taste for good media, get our book, Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys. It’s the book we couldn’t find in raising our six boys — and it was Christian Small Publishers Book of the Year!
Yours in the battle,
Hal & Melanie