“The earliest messages are often the longest-lasting messages. Charles Spurgeon said that the voices of childhood echo throughout life so that ‘The first learned is generally the last forgotten.’ This can be a tremendous blessing when truth is taught early and when it sinks in deep. […] But this same principle can prove troublesome when the first lessons learned are poor ones, because those lessons are hard to correct and harder still to erase.” –Tim Challies
Animated movies can be very fun to watch. They often bring quality family time and quotable humor. However, it can be easy to forget that even cartoons set forth a specific worldview that can shape a person’s view of beauty, relationships, and love for years to come. Whether subliminally or bluntly, the films teach lessons that may clash with the principles parents seek to instill in their kids during their formative years.
Children are impressionable and will likely emulate with their siblings or peers what they see modeled in interactions between movie characters. If stubbornness, rebellion, disrespect, laziness, or pride are exhibited, kids will think this is acceptable behavior or a normal way of being. When paired with catchy songs, dazzling apparel, or thrilling adventures, they will be all the more likely will to act out or think in a similar way as the characters they observe.
Romantic relationships frequently pop up as major plot points. Almost always close to idyllic, the relationship usually ends with a “happily ever after.” Practically everybody knows that this is exaggerated fantasy with no real world correspondence. However, this fills young and impressionable minds with lofty ideas and unrealistic expectations because they have not lived long enough to understand the flaws of human nature and the conflicting wills that arise in a joint union.
Many animated movies encourage kids to believe the following:
1. Feelings are groundwork enough to start a relationship on and will continue indefinitely. Emotions are unstable in that they fluctuate depending on a person’s mood, maturity level, circumstances, and personal trials. To assume good feelings will keep a couple together through life’s storms is naive and to believe feelings will last flies in the face of reality.
2. A perfect mate is out there, and upon meeting, happiness will ensue and problems dissipate. At the start of a relationship, each person puts his best foot forward. He tries his hardest to not let his character flaws show through. This gives people the false hope that the person they are smitten by can do no wrong. Happiness results and people then believe that their own issues are somehow not as much of a problem because the person they are with causes them to forget their pain. This will prove to be temporary.
3. Having a partner will complete you. It is only possible to thrive as a human being in the way we were intended to when Christ is the center of our lives and our intimacy with Him takes precedence over any other relationship. Our need for friendship also dismantles the belief that being in a committed relationship will be enough to sustain us.
4. Love always entails physical beauty. A beautiful appearance can be misleading because we assume the person has an attractive character and personality as well and this might not be so. A lasting relationship doesn’t require nor always entail an appealing exterior. Many times, it is the ones whom society overlooks as being plain or ordinary that have the kindest hearts or meaningful depth to them.
5. Character flaws, family issues, and a poor upbringing and its residual effects will become obsolete just because the person has now found his soulmate. Pain and trauma will be ever present if not intentionally dealt with. It will manifest itself in unhealthy and ugly ways if people do not deliberately process and address accordingly what they have been through in life and their current deficiencies in character. Having a spouse may be a source of comfort and bring a sense of acceptance, yet in order for the relationship to become all it can be and endure over time, past or current problems must be handled thoroughly.
6. There is no need to seek counsel, utilize accountability or mentoring relationships, and learn healthy coping mechanisms to deal with deeply ingrained habits and beliefs. No one is above the need for accountability, counsel, healthy coping mechanisms, and being mentored. These are all necessary ingredients for a healthy existence. Without them, you may remain stagnant and hindered from experiencing growth, restoration, and the help you need to overcome life’s challenges, personal struggles, and any relationship or work-related issues that arise.
If parents are not proactive in their approach to teach and model what a healthy relationship is made of, the culture will be happy to adopt the role as primary influence by the godless philosophies and damaging rubbish they espouse through the various platforms they hold (television, theatre, magazines, books, articles, music).
In this day and age, it is crucial for parents to take a stand in fighting for their children’s hearts, minds, and souls. A little indoctrination through seemingly innocent entertainment from the time kids are young can mold and shape them into people of the coming generations whose ideas of morality, religion, relationships, sexuality, and purpose in life are entirely skewed and self-serving.
“This is the thought that should be uppermost on your mind in all you do for your children. In every step you take about them, in every plan, and scheme, and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty question, ‘How will this affect their souls?'” –J. C. Ryle