As I travel the country speaking about my book, Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture that’s Gone Stark Raving Mad, I’m met with nearly universal desperation from parents who are sick and tired of the battle for their kids’ hearts, minds and very souls.
As the mother of three teens, I admit that I sometimes “fall back” in my own war with the culture. It’s often tough, tiresome and even tedious. But raising children who will tower above the culture makes the battle well worth my unwavering commitment.
So where to start? Here are five basics:
1) Envision, assess, compare.
Envision the type of adult you want your child to become. Whether you are liberal, conservative or somewhere in between, all decent parents pretty much want the same thing for their kids. We all want them to grow up and have happy families of their own. We all want them to be marked by good character; to be responsible, honest, healthy and courageous; to be respected and respectful. But taking the time to actually picture our children’s best future reminds us that we need to do our best every day to help shape them in to all that they can be.
Next, assess the media your child is consuming. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report, today’s teens consume 6 ½ hours of media every single day. The number-one cable choice for girls is the racy MTV; the number-one music genre choice for kids from all races and socio-economic levels is the often foul rap and hip hop; 90 percent of kids who go online stumble across hard-core porn, simply because parents have never taken the time to install a filter. (I protect my kids with a great filter from www.bsafe.com). What are your sons and daughters watching and listening to? Do you even know? Time to spend some time in their world -- to find out the messages that are being pumped into their still-developing brains.
Now, compare: Do the messages and materials your child is feasting on teach the values and behaviors you want him to embrace as an adult? If the vision and what you’ve discovered in the assessment are at odds, it’s time to move to step two.
2) Commit to the daily battle.
And believe me, it is a daily battle. The attacks of the killer culture are relentless. From the commercials, to the gangsta and street-walker clothing styles, to the movies, magazines, games and music marketed to teens, decency is under attack. Try breaking it down to one day at a time, and you will succeed. I awake every morning with a simple prayer, “Lord, please help me today to uphold the values and standards my husband and I have set for our family.”
3) Teach your child that he has intrinsic value in God’s eyes.
The greatest gift we can give our children is to let them know that there is a God who loves them and knows them by name. We must teach our sons and daughters that the God of the Universe is intensely interested and familiar with every aspect of their lives and wants what is best for them. Today’s culture teaches even the young child that he is here by accident, and that he is just another creature on a big, impersonal planet, no different from any other animal. It’s no wonder that kids today are experiencing depression and loneliness in record numbers.
4) Improve your family life.
A few years ago the mantra was, “It’s quality time, not quantity time, that counts.” WRONG! Kids need a good dose of both from their parents. If we think we can spend one great hour a day with our kids and counteract the negative garbage they’re getting from the culture “24/7,” we’re fooling ourselves. Drop the senseless activities that take everyone’s time and leave your family stressed out and exhausted. Spend more time talking to your kids and less time watching TV. The Heritage Foundation reviewed stats on the tremendous impact that even the simple act of having family meals has on our kids and found that teenagers who eat dinner with their families only two nights a week or less are more than twice as likely to smoke, drink or use illegal drugs than teens who have frequent family dinners.
5) Take a hands-on approach with your child’s education.
Whether your kids go to private or public schools, you should be intimately acquainted with what, and how, they are taught. When was the last time you picked up your child’s English book, or science book, and actually read it? Do you know what she is being taught in history? Exercise your right to opt your child out of misguided sex-ed classes. Challenge the reading lists if the assigned books are pop garbage. The point is to remember that you, as the parent, have every right -- and the ultimate responsibility -- to make sure your child is taught well, and well taught.