How can I bring faith into everyday conversation with my teenager?
During summer school this past summer, my students and I were idly talking about the latest movies we had seen over the weekend. I mentioned that I had seen Captain America, and that, other than the obvious focus on good versus evil, there were several strong themes in the movie. One theme was how courage comes in many different forms, and how important it is to stand up for what one believes. We should remember this especially when it comes to our religious convictions.
One of my students asked me, “Do you make every movie you see about religion?” I hadn’t thought about it, but I guess there can be a religious connection to many of the movies and television programs we see. We are inundated throughout the day by media, and sometimes we can become overloaded and miss the opportunity to think through the underlying connections.
I think there are many opportunities for parents to connect with their adolescents through music, movies and television programs. The “Chronicles of Narnia” movie series talks about the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, represented by Aslan, in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The third Narnia movie, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, starts with water and ends with water. What a wonderful conversation starter about the qualities of water, and why it is such an important symbol in the Catholic Church. The Help deals with many issues about bigotry, the way we treat others, and, of course, the courage to stand up for what we believe in!
Looking “outside the box” to find the deeper meaning in some of our media is a great way to connect with teens. We can point out the positive ideas in many of our movies, songs and television shows. We can also question teens about some of the counter-culture ways that people and relationships are portrayed in media, as compared to what Jesus preached in the Gospels.
Next time your adolescent is watching a TV show, sit down and start a discussion about what they are watching and why. I think you will be surprised by their reactions.
(Kathleen Dautremont, Theology Teacher, Dowling Catholic High School)