- - Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Culture challenge of the week: Overcoming the pop culture

Fighting the modern culture on a daily basis is tough. Today’s families are busier than ever, and it’s easy to throw in the towel and set aside your values when you are tired. I know. I’ve been guilty of doing it myself. As a mother of three grown children, I’ve had plenty of battles and challenges. And I’m the first to acknowledge that I’ve failed far too many times to uphold the standards I’ve said I believe in.

As parents, too many of us are so fearful of losing that we never try; others give in or give up. Many parents don’t seem to realize that in today’s world, you must fight to protect your children’s innocence, their childhood, their character and their best futures. But it’s a battle well worth fighting.

According to the Institute for American Values’ Motherhood Project, “Ninety-five percent [of mothers] wish American culture made it easier to instill positive values in children. Over eighty percent of mothers expressed concern about the influence of advertisements on children and, more generally, the influence of media. Over eighty-five percent of mothers also agree with the statement ‘money has too much control over our lives’ and agree that childhood should be a time when children are protected from large parts of the adult world.”

So the question is, why aren’t these same moms doing more to protect their sons and daughters?

Of course, concern over pop culture’s negative influence on our children is nothing new. One of the key motivators for me to write two books about parenting in the modern culture is the email I have received over the years from thousands of parents who read my column. They express frustration, anger and often helplessness — powerful emotions that come from the constant onslaught of a culture that has gone stark raving mad.

We can’t waste a single day. We have a very short time to mold our children’s hearts and develop their minds. Each day that we fail to take the opportunities to forgive and discipline and teach lessons from the “school of hard knocks” is a day we probably will regret. Somewhere down the line, our children will learn about consequences — some of which will be severe and suffered needlessly because we didn’t teach them about the results of their actions when we had the chance.

How to save your family: Commit to the daily battle

For those of you who haven’t started or who perhaps have failed to live up to your standards, I offer truth and encouragement: You can start today — and you can win.

If you have only recently come to realize that your children need you in the battle with them, don’t despair over lost days. Despair is not an option.

Beating yourself up over past mistakes robs you of the beauty and opportunity of today. Yes, your challenges might be greater, but each new day offers a chance to start over. I’ve heard it said that “parenthood is not a dress rehearsal — you get one chance to do it right.” Although I believe that fully, it is equally important to remember that each morning offers a brand new chance to reclaim your home, to touch your children’s hearts in a deep and meaningful way, and to teach lessons that will guide them.

You might not be able to save the world, although it is a noble effort to try your best to influence the overall culture for the better. But you can — you must — save your family. It doesn’t take an act of Congress to make your home the nurturing environment it was intended to be. It does take a loving relationship with your children, a commitment to the daily battle, and a pledge to become more involved in your children’s lives.

We’ve got to teach our children sound values at home so that when they are confronted with damaging messages outside the home, they can recognize them as such and know how to reject them. It’s also imperative that we teach our children that our battle is not with them but with other adults who have different worldviews and care nothing about their futures.

Let’s be clear: Adults operate the hard-core porn sites; adults own the record companies that produce sexist, racist and violent music; adults are the ones spamming your children’s email accounts with porn; adults are the ones designing and selling thongs to 10-year-olds; adults are the ones who allow popular websites such as YouTube to be filled with obscene material; and adults are spending billions of dollars on oversexualized marketing campaigns aimed at your children.

As I’ve said before, the problem isn’t with “these kids today”; the problem is with these adults today.

We must teach our children character and values found in principles of courage, how to say “no,” and how to rise above the pop culture that seeks to do them harm. Moms and dads, if you don’t stand in the gap for your kids, nobody will.

So start today. Be intentional about building strong character in your children, and wake up tomorrow morning and start again. Commit to the daily battle, and pledge to build that strength of character in their hearts and minds so they will know how to make the right decisions each day when they walk out your door.

• Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at [email protected]

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