Everywhere around us a battle is raging for the hearts, minds and attitudes of our children. And this struggle is most intense within the safety of the American home.
It's a subtle war - even hidden - from those who would rather not see. Many parents prefer to think of entertainment that comes into their homes as "happy and harmless" because it provides quiet respites in the midst of our busy, complex lives.
With stressful work days, homework, paying bills, grocery shopping, preparing meals, running a house, and all the government regulations we have to adhere to like getting our cars inspected, budgeting for taxes, renewing driver's licenses, etc., it's such a relief to be able to have Johnny or Susie disappear into another room to play video games, surf the net, and watch television and movies of their choosing. At least they are safe within our four walls and not getting into trouble, right? At least they are not bothering us for a while.
But for the parent who dares to look beyond the Hollywood glitz and happy marketing themes that accompany every television show and movie, an ugly pattern emerges that pretty much explains why this generation of pre-teen girls are so sexual; why crude and rude behavior and language has become the status quo; why even the youngest of children seem to lack respect for their parents.
In her new book, The War on Children, Coral Ridge Ministries researcher and family advocate Karen L. Gushta, Ph.D. describes the war in detail, and even lays out the enemy's battle plans as well as their weapons of choice. She skillfully documents how entertainment teaches our children that "there is no absolute truth and no ultimate moral values."
Of particular interest is Chapter Four which outlines the roles of the liberal courts in providing authority and ammunition to the enemy: "They Banned Prayer and Protected Porn" explains how it all got so bad, so quickly. And chapter five, "Heroes and Heroines: Virtue and Vice Redefined" gets to the heart of the psychological warfare being used to twist good and bad, to turn truth into lies, and to pervert justice.
How can families win this war?
It's pretty simple, actually - I call it deliberate parenting. Those who have read my book, "30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family", know that I believe every parent has the opportunity to save their children from becoming slaves to porn addiction, teen pregnancy, shattered relationships with you, and a life of mediocrity. The first step is realizing that the world has changed. Gone are the days of pleasant entertainment designed to foster strong moral values and strong families. Even Disney can not be trusted. It has become the number one producer of sexual role models for our young girls - they have become masters of deceit in creating seemingly innocent, fun, cute starlets that our little girls love to emulate, and then morph them into trampy women whose lives center around their sexual power.
As Dr. Gushta explains, it actually starts with very young children, "The media have continued to push the boundaries in children's entertainment. Today it often wears a patina of childish play and silliness, but underneath, its humor is strictly adult, as signaled by the trademark of double entendre. She also warns, "However, it's not just sexualized content for which parents must be alert. They must also be on the lookout for the worldviews that are subtly slipped into the story."
The second step is to stop being so lazy when it comes to entertainment. Take the time to read honest reviews of programming content by visiting sites like MovieGuide.org and PluggedinOnline.com. Stop depending on shows that self-proclaim they are "family friendly" and instead, watch programming yourself so you can decide what is truly family friendly. Install a reliable internet filter; view your child's internet history.
Most importantly, replace much of the time your children are spending consuming entertainment with time spent with you. Talk to them about your values, and how your desire is for them to be young men and women known for their goodness, grace, purity and love for others. Paint a vision of they type of human being you want them become, and deliberately remind them on a daily basis of the high value God places on them as individuals.
For practical weekly tips and encouragement in this vital battle for your children, I invite you to subscribe to my free weekly e-newsletter at HowToSaveYourFamily.com. Each week I provide resources and information to help you strengthen your relationship with your children, grow their faith in God, and equip them to tower above the pop culture.
When left alone, your children will be manipulated and consumed by the selfish and narcissistic values pervasive in today's entertainment arsenal. With your daily, deliberate assistance, they will become wise, strong warriors who are equipped to recognize the lies, and defeat them at every turn.