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OPINION

The Culture Battle

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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How are you doing in your fight against a culture that's gone stark raving mad?

The real-life headlines for some parents have been more like nightmares: A “pregnancy pact” that plagued a small town in Massachusetts; teens trading nude photos of their girlfriends on MySpace; porn flowing free on cell phone screens. And of course, a constant barrage of raunchy prime-time television programs, ads that belittle fathers, music that extols sexual promiscuity, etc., etc. It can certainly seem like we parents are overpowered by media madness.

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It’s vital that you not lose heart, because this is one battle you really can -- and must -- win. Parenting is a joy, a miracle, a blessed gift from God -- but no one ever said it would be easy. Overcoming the cultural sewage and imparting your values, instead of Hollywood’s, is a war well worth fighting. The good news is, you don't have to go it alone.

I’d love to know what particular battles or successes you are having with your own kids so I can share them with others. If you read my last book, Home Invasion, you know that our precious children need for you -- moms, dads, grandparents, youth group leaders -- to rally around our sons and daughters to help them become men and women of love, wisdom and virtue. We need to work together to build within them a moral compass that helps them, as Philippians says, to know the difference between good and bad -- and to choose the good.

I'm working now on a parenting “how to” book (due out just before Mother’s Day, 2009), and I’d like to include your anecdotes and victories. Any stories chosen for inclusion will be identified by first name only, to protect your privacy. Just e-mail them to me at rebecca.hagelin@hotmail.com.

Maybe you’re struggling to preserve your child’s innocence. Don’t you find it disturbing that programs targeting your children often feature kids behaving like drug-addicted, sex-crazed adults? TV dramas now regularly portray teenagers whose inappropriately adult behavior is treated as perfectly acceptable. In reality, such lifestyles aren’t healthy, aren’t attractive, and are not respectful of God’s image in which we all are made. But if we want our kids to hear our message, and not Hollywood’s, we’ve got to monitor the media’s constant attempts to feed on our kids’ vulnerabilities and raging hormones to boost ratings -- and advertising dollars.

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In short, your kids are being used -- and you don’t have to take it. It is possible to have an active role in your children’s lives and to establish yourself as their preferred source for information and approval.

Maybe your daily battle is with the Internet. A lot of parents are tempted to lay down their swords when it comes to computers, because they feel intimidated by the technology. How can you win against an enemy you don’t understand? But you can fight back. Here’s an easy way to start: Don’t allow your child to have a computer in his room. Placing the computer in a central location in the house not only reduces the likelihood of your child seeking out inappropriate Web content, like porn or chat rooms, it also creates the opportunity for you to share a teaching moment should he accidentally stumble into the quicksand of porn while doing his homework.

Or maybe your biggest struggle isn’t with your kids at all, but with other parents. Peer pressure isn’t just something we have to teach our kids to overcome -- it affects parents, too. That’s why, in Home Invasion, I entreat readers not to let themselves be discouraged when they’re accused of “overprotective parenting.” Is it worth sacrificing your kids to win their approval?

The rotten pop culture doesn’t have to devour our families -- but it’s up to you to set the example. We need to be the ones showing our children that sex was meant to be saved for marriage, that violence doesn’t have to flash across our TV screens at every waking moment, and that personal integrity and the “Golden Rule” are not long-lost virtues of old.

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Yes, we parents need to lead the way, but we don’t have to do it alone. Share what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to ensuring that your families make time for dinners together. How do you manage to wrangle those iPod buds from your child’s ears long enough for her to tell you about her day? How do you show your kids that God values them, and what are the signs that they understand that?

Parents, so often we are each other’s best resources. I'm looking forward to your stories and to sharing them with others. Together, we can win -- but our children will be the real victors.

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