#1020 – Friends



Earlier this month Netflix finally brought Friends to its streaming service. Friends premiered in 1994 and was one of the most successful shows on television for its entire 10-year run. While Friends was a staple for many households, I wasn’t allowed to watch it.

My mom wouldn’t let me watch Friends because she thought it focused too much on sex. And while I could have chosen to start watching it on my own when I got older, I really didn’t. I’ve obviously seen a number of episodes in syndication but definitely wouldn’t consider myself a fan.

Recently Alycia has been watching Friends on Netflix. In the past week I have seen way more episodes of Friends than I had in the previous 20 years. It is a very funny show; I especially like Chandler, I always have. However, after watching so many episodes, I completely understand why my mom didn’t want me watching it when I was 13.

Friends definitely focuses too much on sex, and not just sex, but plenty of promiscuous sex outside of marriage. In every episode it seems like at least one of the six main characters is in a new relationship and figuring out when, how or where to have sex. As a 13-year-old boy I could have assumed that lifestyle was normal for people in their mid 20s.

We receive messages from all around us about how we should live our lives. We receive messages from music, movies, comic books, friendships and television shows. If we listen to those messages enough, regardless of their origin, they will influence our choices and behaviors.

By not letting me watch Friends, my mom was limiting negative messages about sex, which left room for godly messages about sex. I don’t know if I would have abandoned God’s intentions for sex if I had watched Friends as a 13-year-old. But, because I didn’t, I know I didn’t have to wrestle with whether or not I would choose to listen to Friends or the Bible.

I can watch Friends now without being tempted to divorce Alycia to pursue a string of different relationships. I can say that with confidence because I’ve chosen to align my life to God and his principles as laid out in the Bible. So much of that confidence, though, comes from my parents shielding me from messages that could have been detrimental when I was growing up.

I was pretty upset when my parents told me that I couldn’t watch Friends when I was 13. Looking back, though, I appreciate that they cared about me enough to set good boundaries. And now, as an adult, I can watch all the Friends I want without commercials.

What boundaries did your parents set for you? Do you feel differently about them now?


2 comments on “#1020 – Friends”

  1. Good for your mom. My wife and I were in seminary when “Friends” premiered. We watched the first season, and enjoyed it fairly well; but then all the friends became friends with benefits from then on, and also started being regularly mean and catty with each other, so we dropped it farily quickly.

    While parental boundary-setting can be overdone (I know one person who wasn’t allowed to watch anything but “VeggieTales”… she has still, as an older 20something, still never seen Star Wars), it’s something that definitely has to be done. I wish a few more boundaries had been set for me as a kid; I can recall long summer vacation afternoons being plunked in front of the TV while Mom cleaned house or ran errands. I’m sure I saw stuff on soap operas it would have been best I not see.

    This is a nice post, Scott!

    1. As a parent, I’m sure you know about finding that right balance. I don’t know how my parents found that balance, but my boundaries weren’t so strict that I was champing at the bit to violate them as soon as I was able.

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