With the increasing popularity of TV shows like Desperate Housewives, the wide range of sexual sites available on the Internet, and the revelation that video games like Grand Theft Auto include not only extreme violence but sexual action, parents today are more challenged than ever before to keep their kids from being exposed to adult topics that the children aren’t ready to handle. Short of keeping kids at home until they’re adults and throwing out every form of media, what can parents do to protect their children?
The authors, parents of seven children, and California’s 2001 Parents of the Year, have plenty of tried-and-true experience to share in this book. Even though the easy answer would be to prohibit kids from all forms of media, the Hatches say that isn’t the answer. Media today is too pervasive; what children don’t see at home, they might easily see elsewhere. The authors point out that eventually these kids will have to make their own choices regarding media, and rather than cutting it out of their lives entirely, parents need to teach kids how to make good choices and how to assert their own values into their media experiences.
This book is designed to give parents tools to help kids develop G-rated values. If parents are looking for a quick fix, such as a list of TV shows or websites to avoid, this book is not for them. Instead, the Hatches have a longer-term view for creating good values, a view rooted in unconditional love and support combined with setting healthy and safe boundaries while teaching children what those boundaries mean. And it doesn’t mean avoiding all questionable media; the Hatches suggest using TV shows as discussion points for behavior and family models: do these families on TV represent happy, respectful families? Why or why not?
Filled with real-life examples from their own parenting experiences, lists of specific discussion recommendations, and charts that detail how to talk to kids and how to illustrate healthy values, this book provides a cornerstone for healthy parenting, as well as an open-eyed view of the media world as something not to be avoided, but to be approached with caution and care. The Hatches don’t condone the X-rated part of the world, but neither do they try to pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s this type of realistic approach, combined with their hands-on advice, that makes this book an excellent addition to the parenting realm.