Life Notes: Bad Guys and Good Guys
by Cindy Wyatt

Here’s unusual advice from a therapist: watch television with your kids. I’m not recommending more hours in front of the television. Just that what time is spent is together.

I like to know what captures my children’s interest. I want to speak their language and join in the fun. But my ulterior motive is to sprinkle my own observations and moral conclusions in the mix. To point out the black and white–and help them find the gray.

When my son says, “It’s okay that the guy in black got killed because he is a bad guy”, that’s my chance to raise moral ambiguity. Is it really true that the character is all bad? And if he has done bad things, is it okay to kill him? Does our aggressive response to another’s violence prevent future violence?

There is also an opportunity to find out who your child admires and why. Who are their heroes? Is it the martial arts character demolishing his “enemy”? Are there other ways for heroes to achieve victory other than fighting? Could they use their wit, negotiation skills, and their brain power?

Point out how Jimmy Neutron takes time to “think” and Dora uses her smarts and the “Map” to find her way through treacherous territory. Comment on what makes SpongeBob Squarepants a good friend to all. Make an observation about how Lizzie McGuire almost gave up her true self and loyal friends to be “popular”. There are often good messages in these shows. You can amplify and refer to them if you have that common reference.

And best of all, you can get the book version of that character or show your kids love-and read it together.

The Life Notes articles are written by staff of Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home and are published in The Ruston Daily Leader.

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