May 13, 2005 | Commentary on Family and Marriage
After listening to caller feedback on the scores of radio interviews I've done so far on my new book, Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture That's Gone Stark Raving Mad, I've got a renewed passion for my heartfelt message: Parents can fight the culture -- and win.
Caller opinion is astoundingly consistent. Today's parents feel overwhelmed by the negative messages inundating our kids, and the vast majority of them are ready to fight back -- but, sadly, many have never learned how.
A recent poll, outlined in a piece by Linda Feldmann in The Christian Science Monitor reveals the same conclusion I came to many months ago when I determined it was time to provide practical help to parents, grandparents, youth pastors and the like -- parents are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Headlined"New 'mommy wars': a fight against pop culture's excess," Feldmann begins her report:
"Forget about the 'mommy wars,' in which stay-at-home mothers were supposedly locking horns with their working sisters, at least in popular perception.
"What's really happening with American mothers of all stripes -- from full-time homemakers to full-fledged workaholics, all income levels, all racial backgrounds -- is worry about popular culture, and what feels like a tsunami of forces threatening parents' ability to impart positive values to their children, according to a new survey of more than 2,000 mothers. Moms report a cultural onslaught that goes far beyond Hollywood movies and TV, and into the world of the Internet, electronic games, and advertising."
Feldman goes on to quote Martha Farrell Erickson of the University of Minnesota, who served as the lead researcher on the study: "We heard mothers talking about the kind of hypersexuality that's out there, about violence and disrespect, about body image, all the things that are not exactly news, but cutting across a huge and diverse sample of mothers. What they would really like to see is mothers and fathers joining forces more effectively to take on some of these issues."
The survey of mothers covers many areas, and it's certainly worth your time to take a look at the entire study by visiting the website of The Motherhood Project. But what caught my eye, after first hearing about the study through Feldmann's piece, is the following statement from the study's Executive Summary:
"Ninety-five percent [of mothers] agree that they wish American culture made it easier to instill positive values in children. Most mothers (87%) expressed concern about the influence of advertisements on children and, more generally, the influence of media (88%). Eighty-eight percent of mothers agree with the statement 'money has too much control over our lives' and 86% agree that childhood should be a time when children are protected from large parts of the adult world."
Of course, such concern over the pop culture's negative influence on our kids is nothing new. In Home Invasion, I cite a Gallup poll revealing that 82 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of Democrats believe that modern American values are fair to poor. And, one of the key motivators for my writing wrote Home Invasion in the first place was as a response to the thousands of e-mails I have received over the years from parents who read my weekly column on WorldNetDaily.com and Townhall.com. They express frustration, anger and often helplessness -- all powerful emotions that come from the constant onslaught of what has been referred to as a "killer culture," a "toxic culture" and "cultural terrorism."
So, what's the solution?
Mom, Dad, it's time to take back your home.
You might not be able to save the world, although it is a noble and worthwhile effort to try your best to influence the overall culture for the better. But you can -- you must -- save your home. It doesn't take an act of Congress to make our homes the nurturing environments they were intended to be. It does take developing a loving relationship with your children, committing to the daily battle, and becoming more involved in our kids' daily lives.
Today's youth are the most marketed-to generation of children in all of history. They are under tremendous pressure to conform to the value system of those who are selling them short of the best they can become -- and all the above stats prove that parents know it.
But we've got to do more than just know it. We've got to teach our children sound values at home so that when they are confronted with damaging messages outside the home, they can recognize them as such and know how to reject them. It's also imperative that we teach our children that our battle is not with them, but with other adults who care nothing about their futures.
Let's be clear: Adults create and operate the hard-core porn sites; adults own the record companies that produce sexist, racist and violent hip-hop; adults are the ones spamming your child's e-mail account with porn; adults are the ones designing and selling thongs to 10-year-olds; adults are spending billions of dollars on over-sexualized marketing campaigns aimed at your kids.
As I've said before, the problem isn't with "these kids today," the problem is with these adults today.
But the really great news is, you don't have to go it alone. Mothers participating in the study said they wish that parents would join forces in fighting the adults who seek to rob our kids of their innocence and of their best futures. And many parents are. I've included 38 pages of resources in Home Invasion giving contact information for marriage support groups, for parenting organizations, for how to obtain an Internet filter, for materials you can use to teach your kids abstinence.
Why engage in the battle? Because you love your kids.
Because your children depend on you to protect them. Because it's
the right thing to do. And because you can win.
Rebecca Hagelin is Vice President of Communications and Marketing at the Heritage Foundation.
First appeared on World Net Daily