“Raising kids is part joy and part guerrilla warfare.” - Ed Asner
There are two books that my three daughters are reading. One, let’s call this first book Dad, is about the man named Dad and the life he is living in front of them. The other, let’s call this second book Culture, is about everyone named Culture and the life they are living in front of them. Here’s a synopsis of each…
Book One – Dad, who says, “I’m a dad. I have three daughters. We read books. We laugh with each other. We talk to each other. We eat meals together. We watch movies together. We do homework together. We listen to music together. We shop and argue and vacation and work and dream together. I love them and I try to teach them that what they do and say and think matters.”
Book Two – Culture, who says, “I’m everyone. I have countless daughters. We read books. We laugh with each other. We talk to each other. We eat meals together. We watch movies together. We do homework together. We listen to music together. We shop and argue and vacation and work and dream together. I love them and I try to teach them that what they do and say and think makes no difference at all.”
As a dad, I am not interested in giving culture the top teaching position within my daughters’ lives, nor am I interested in teaching my daughters to be perfect people (there is no such thing and teaching such a thing is ridiculous and futile). What I am interested in teaching them is that they are human beings worthy of being respected and being respectful, of being intelligent and acting with intelligence, of being listened to and listening to others, of thinking well and being thought of well, with living and loving and working and caring about more than just themselves.
Here are two interesting columns on the topic:
1. According to a new study by the Parents Television Council, underage girls are more likely to act in “exploitative” scenes on television than adult women. For the study, the PTC viewed 238 episodes of prime time television and found that about two-thirds of them had some sort of sexual content. A third were deemed to be exploitative. Underage characters were more likely to be involved in those scenes than adults, and about a third of the scenes were designed to be humorous. But PTC President Tim Winter is not amused. “Today the Parents Television Council publicly asks, ‘When is it appropriate to laugh at the sexual exploitation of a child?’” he said in a statement. “How are our children and our society being impacted by entertainment content that utilizes sexual exploitation as humor?” [time.com, parentstv.org, 7/12/13]
2. In our culture, instead of just focusing on the Miley Cyruses, we should recognize and applaud the many young adults who are making the right decisions. Teen pregnancy declined by 42% from 1990 to 2008, owing in part to the fact that teens are waiting longer to start having sex. In the period from 2006 to 2008, among unmarried girls ages 15 to 19, only 11% had had sex before age 15, compared with 19% in 1995. Making sure that people—particularly young people—know these facts and figures can play an important role in encouraging better behavior. Too much of our culture—from headlines in Cosmopolitan magazine to TV shows like The Secret Life of the American Teenager—sends the message that promiscuity is ubiquitous and a rite of passage toward adulthood. But it’s not. Those who do take sex seriously are in good company.” — National Review contributor Hadley Heath [nationalreview.com, 9/19/13 stats]
In other words dad, be their book. It won’t be the only one that gets read, but it will be among the only ones that matter.