The OP makes so many excellent points.
I think we need to teach kids HOW to think, not WHAT to think.
And I think it’s all about age-appropriateness. We need to recognize that children are not just “miniature adults” just like us. They are still growing in body and mind, and we need to respect that and give them experiences that will help them grow up well, not experiences that will mark, sexualize, or terrorize them.
We allowed our kids to participate in “non-Christian” activities, view “non-Christian” media, and have “non-Christian” friends.
But we were very careful about age-appropriateness.
E.g., when our children were under 5, we allowed them to watch cartoons and children’s Disney movies. Most of these have no God-centered universe, although some of the very old Disney movies (e.g., The Three Lives of Thomasina) show religion in a positive way.
But these “non-Christian” media have a lot of positive things for children.
We would NOT have allowed our children to watch movies like Gone With The Wind and Terminator when they were tiny. When they were older, yes. (although neither of our daughters care for Terminator!)
*The Simpsons *is another show that we NEVER watched while the kids were growing up, but once they were in high school and could understand all the good lessons in the show, we watched it. Good discussions, e.g., the episode where Lisa digs up the angel.
Our children listened to a lot of music when they were children (mainly because I play piano), but they didn’t listen to rock music until they were in 1st grade. I feel that it is very detrimental to the child’s musical development, but once they are older and their ears and brains are more developed, no problem with rock music. (Back in 1987, my daughter’s kindergarten teacher was amazed that she had never heard of Michael Jackson! She said our family was like the Waltons and she meant it as a compliment.)
If you allow kids freedom, they develop discernment.
When my older daughter was about 10, she went to a slumber party. I got a call at about 10:30 pm. The mother was concerned because my daughter refused to watch the “horror” movie; instead, she asked if she could just sit in another room and read while everyone else watched the movie. My daughter told her that “movies like that upset her and she would rather not watch it, but she didn’t want to stop everyone else from watching it.”
I told the mom not to worry about it, and my daughter had a great time reading and didn’t offend anyone and didn’t get upset by a gross movie.
We did make some mistakes and so did others. My younger daughter had to watch a movie about war when she was in grade school. She ran out of the classroom crying, and this incident set off a series of nightmares and sleepless nights. Eventually we took her to a psychologist so she could learn to go to sleep without fear.
So to this day, she won’t watch war movies. She won’t watch The Unit.
I don’t think “war” movies, even documentaries, are appropriate for young children. It’s too bad that the school felt differently that time.
Age appropriateness–what’s OK for a 17 year-old is not necessarily OK for a 5 year-old.