April 21, 2009

April 21, 2009 | Commentary on Family and Marriage

Secure Allies in the Battle

Each week in this new column, I will share a common cultural challenge, or a recent threat to you and your Family, and then supply concrete steps and actions you can take to save your Family from it.

Cultural Challenge of the Week: The perception that you are "the only one."

The cry of a recent e-mail I received from a mom reflects the hearts of many parents I have spoken with over the last four years while traveling the country discussing the culture wars: "I feel so alone."

It's nearly universal - when parents finally notice the oversexualized pop culture that targets our children, we often look around and wonder why seemingly everyone else thinks this crude movie or that rear-end-showing pants style is perfectly suitable for our 12-year-old.

Distressed by the lonely struggle, many moms and dads don't stop to consider that other good parents are feeling the same way - but no one wants to be the first to speak up. When we do, we're often met with protests from our child such as: "You're the only mom that won't let her child go to that party." Or, "Everyone else has that video game, why do I have to be the only one who doesn't?"

The constant barrage of images of pop stars living a sordid but seemingly "happy" life is designed to make such a lifestyle seem acceptable - even desirable. We must remember that a classic trick of a formidable enemy is to make you believe that you are, indeed, the only one.

How to Save Your Family from "the only one" syndrome: Secure allies in the battle.

Even though you may feel ostracized for your concerns, you are actually in good company. There is a silent army - and probably many adults in your own circle - just waiting for leadership and reinforcement in fighting the cultural battle. According to several studies, including one by the Motherhood Project, a common concern of the majority of moms of many political persuasions, races and socioeconomic levels is the culture's negative effect on America's children.

So, make it your mission to find adults who share your values - adults who will do the "hard work" involved in standing up for what is right and finding positive, enjoyable alternatives for your children and teens. Be the first to speak up and go the extra mile to fight back by providing other activities, such as having your own party filled with food and music, or deliberately creating an environment in your home that fosters respect. And find other families who will do the same.

Share your heart over a cup of coffee with the mom of your daughter's best friend and ask her to join you in the adventure. Look in your faith community for parents who will stand with you, and canvass your neighborhood for families who share your values. Seek out organizations whose mission is to come along beside you to help raise children of character and integrity - groups such as Moms in Touch, the Boy Scouts and Young Life.

Don't have one in your area? My goodness, then start one.

And always remember that your children crave acceptance and social interaction. Isolation is not an option. If you are deliberate, joyful and kind in your quest to form bonds with other parents who believe like you do, there is no doubt that you can create a close-knit community of your own - that can help you save your family.

Rebecca Hagelin is senior communications fellow for the Heritage Foundation and the author of "30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family" and runs the Web site HowToSaveYourFamily.com.

About the Author

Rebecca Hagelin Senior Communications Fellow

Related Issues: Family and Marriage

First appeared in the Washington Times