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We are a Good Family, so . . .

By JoAnn Hamilton
February 13, 2006

We are a good family, so my children won't be affected by -- and now you can fill in the blank with alcohol, drugs, pornography, immorality, etc. Believing in the power of a "good family" is causing problems. It is true that wholesome family interactions, lots of family fun, great family communication and strong religious training are a deterrent to these problems, but this does not guarantee total avoidance.


Why not? Psychiatrist Frederick Wortham explains that "all children are impressionable and therefore susceptible." He goes on to say, "We flatter ourselves if we think that our social conditions and family life and education and entertainment are so far above reproach that only emotionally sick children can get into trouble. ... If we believe that harm can come only to the predisposed child, this leads to a contradictory and irresponsible attitude on the part of adults. Constructive TV programs are praised for giving children constructive ideas, but we deny that destructive scenes give children destructive ideas."


In addition to TV programs we need to include the acceptance of alcohol in the community environment, the acceptance of sexual images in family-friendly stores and the use of illegal drugs as a solution to stress. Good children in good homes are often taught by the media that violence is the way to get what they want.  


Imitative learning comes from the media. Studies show that witnessing pornography (and this can just be a sexy TV commercial) can introduce long-lasting fantasies into the mind, which in some cases can be converted into deviant sexual inclinations and ultimate deviant behavior. So what behaviors have your children/youth seen that you do not want them to act out?


I talked to a young mother today who was upset at the dolls her neighbors let their children play with. "Not only that," the young mother said, "but these mothers dress their little girls like the dolls." This is imitative behavior and the parents are desensitized and do not realize what they are teaching their little girls. If they dress in immodest ways as a child, you can bet these children will dress that way as teens.


I am aware of a youth who picked up a magazine and was, as his mother explained to me, instantly addicted to the pornography that he saw. He went on to sexually abuse a sibling. He came from a wonderful, loving, religious home. The real problem is the explicitness of what can be accidentally seen in today's world.  


I am aware of good children who have been approached with inappropriate comments on elementary school grounds by other children whose parents had allowed their children to see what I would consider inappropriate movies and videos. The solution? Teach your children to talk to you about these things.


Should this leave us in despair? No! We will have fewer problems if we are better educated and more alert to the possibilities. Often PTA meetings address these problems. The ones I have been involved in have been most enlightening to the few who were there. Yes, their youth are less apt to be involved because they have informed parents. Again, the problem is busy parents who don't feel they have time to attend and families who feel that all is well with their family.



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