Rebecca Hagelin

So just what does McDonald's put on those Big Macs?

Let's hear it, everyone 35 or older. A one, and a two, and a ... "Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame-seed bun."

We also know things go better with Coke, Gillette is the best a man can get, and Dominos delivers.

We know because we've heard these themes thousands of times in commercials. We learn a lot from advertisers, and we seem to remember it forever.

This is no accident, of course. Advertising companies spend billions of dollars to determine precisely how to reach children. Some ? such as cigarette companies back in the bad old days ? perfected the art of bypassing parents and appealing directly to children. They know that children make the decisions on how billions of consumer dollars are spent each year, and they've learned how to capitalize on it.

This may not seem so bad when it's, say, McDonald's and Wendy's competing for a kid's dollar hamburger. But think about some of the slogans kids encounter: "Just do it." Why wait?" "Obey your thirst." "No boundaries." "Got the urge?" In other words, be selfish, instantly gratify yourself, regardless of the consequences. And remember, "He who dies with the most toys wins."

If these are not the messages you want your child to hear and act on ? and surveys show that overwhelming majorities of parents fall into this category ? it's up to you to do something about it. One step might be to join forces with the

Motherhood Project, an operation of the Institute for American Values. The project has brought together moms from all walks of life and political persuasions who, according to an open letter from the moms to advertisers, have declared themselves "in rebellion against a popular culture that is waging war on our children."

The Motherhood Project is long on benefit of the doubt, but short on patience with advertisers. "We do not believe that you intend to harm our children," the letter states. "Perhaps you don't recognize that you are harming them. But you are harming them with such growing intensity, and with such grave consequences for their well-being, that we have no choice but to challenge you directly as a vital step in reversing the tide that has turned against our children."

Rebecca Hagelin

Rebecca Hagelin is a public speaker on the family and culture and the author of the new best seller, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family.
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