Parenting is not the same as it was when we were kids.
When we were children, we could play outside for hours without a care in the world. We'd watch Saturday morning cartoons. We would walk to our friends' houses to see if they could play or pick up the phone and call them. Games were mostly non-electronic, like hide-n-seek, hopscotch or sardines.
Things have changed.
Not only are there more dangers (or perhaps we're just more aware of them), but as parents, we have to be so much more vigilant in raising our kids. We can't always trust our neighbors to have the same values as we do when our kids are at their houses. We surely can't leave our moral standards or levels of appropriateness up to the media.
We must be the ones to shelter, protect and teach our children. If left up to the ever-changing culture of the world, our children will have to grow up faster, face more heartache and live a more confused life than having stable values fostered at home.
"Sheltering our children is not simply the domain of fundamentalist homeschoolers, as many in the media would have you believe ... [M]others and fathers across the country have [said] the same thing over and over: It is us against the culture and we are losing," stated a parenting article.
Just because culture is swaying one way, does not mean we have to follow suit. What can parents do to raise children with values in an "anything goes" culture?
Don't allow media to dictate your family's moral standards
Television programming, movies, music and even the news makes it seem as if everyone is having sex and living together before marriage — if they choose marriage at all. Profanity is used generously. Those with values are mocked. Violence is normalized. Innuendos are common, or more boldly stated.
You get the idea.
Take time to instill high standards in your family. Parents need to set boundaries and explain that some things are wrong even if everyone is doing it. Children need appropriate rules. They need limits and boundaries — even if they fight against them, they are grateful to have them. Discuss as a family what's important and why. Talk about the possible implications of certain behaviors and the consequences so they can understand, not blindly obey or rebel. Teach children to avoid TV, music, books and movies with debasing scenes or lyrics.
Set parental controls
Technology enables parents to block out channels, certain ratings and Internet pages. Using these tools helps parents filter out the "junk" programming they wouldn't want their children to accidentally stumble onto. Kids are smart. They can turn on the TV and change channels without their parents around. By setting up password-protected standards, this will help keep children safe from some inappropriate material.
The Internet is a wonderful tool, but it is also too easy to stumble onto a pornography site or see pornographic images from an innocent Google search. We need to carefully monitor our kids' activity online. YouTube videos can start innocently and turn awful with a click. Internet filters are also available. Always keep computers in a common area where other family members are present.
Monitor cell phone usage as well as other devices
Some parents may not realize how easy it is to access pornography or have inappropriate texting from cell phones or other devices. Any device with texting capabilities or access to the Internet presents dangers.
If your child has a cell phone or other device, you need to set boundaries and rules. As a parent, you need to have your children's passwords for all social media. Parents need to monitor text messages, Facebook or other messages and to check the search histories of Internet browsers and app stores. Not only can conversations or picture sharing between peers become inappropriate, but there are sexual predators who seek out children, often under the guise of being their peer.
Collect devices every night and check messages and search histories. If you find questionable activity, talk to your child. You may want to consider taking away electronic privileges for a while. Kids need freedom, but they need to know that you care enough to make sure they're using those freedoms within safe boundaries.
Being a proactive parent is key
Even with parental controls and Internet filters, you can't prevent all the distasteful media you'd like to avoid. However, you can prepare your children. Have special family nights where you discuss the dangers of things we can find on the Internet or social media. Help them to know what to do if they accidentally see something they shouldn't or are in a similar situation at a friend's house. Make sure they feel comfortable enough to come and talk to you about it.
You are still the parent and can decide what values your family is going to have regardless of the direction our culture takes. There are downfalls to the "anything goes as long as it makes you [seemingly] happy" mentality. Keep an open dialogue with your children and be willing to discuss difficult topics with love and understanding. If you don't teach your children moral values, the world will teach them not to have any.