Your Children Are Under Attack
a book by Jim Taylor
(our site's book review)
Dr. Jim Taylor has written an extraordinary book. His indictment of American popular culture is as insightful as it is poignant. Parents are especially receptive to his words because they’ve struck a chord with repressed and not-so-repressed feelings they themselves have been harboring. Unhealthy values, messages, and influences of all kinds really are aimed at making both kids and adults into selfish, mean, dependent sheep, consuming more and more things they don’t want or need as they adopt values and ideas they never wanted and never asked for. Kids are more vulnerable and more receptive and the idea of finding ways to protect them from this onslaught is as courageous as it is timely. Corporate greed is unrestrained and amoral and willing to corrupt kids and adults mercilessly to keep stockholders happy.
Corporate greed is unrestrained and amoral and willing to corrupt kids and adults mercilessly to keep stockholders happy
The idea that we will all vote with our feet and our remotes, staying away from movies that taint our values as we click away from TV programs with ugly values is hardly a new one, but his putting together a plan in which kids are taught decent values so effectively that they really do vote with feet and remotes is relatively new.
Vote with our remotes, click away from TV programs with ugly values and avoid movies with poor values as well
Preachers, teachers, parents, authors, and others have all tried to get people to avoid values-tainting influences by simply trying to persuade them verbally. But none of these were influential enough to fight the monolithic and omnipresent onslaught of ads and entertainment that fairly dripped with corrupt values. The corporate greed is too intense, their financial resources are too vast, and their influence is too ubiquitous. The enemy had not just one plan, but thousands of plans, in the form of marketing strategies. The “sheep” targeted by these strategies never knew what hit them. They were—and are—overwhelmed, and they end up getting fleeced.
'Sheep' targeted by marketers never know what hit them. They're overwhelmed and end up getting fleeced
So the Taylor plan outlined in this book is a plan whose time has come. It is overdue. If we do not protect our vulnerable citizens—children—from this media onslaught, who will? He understates the extent to which adults also need protection from the tsunami of American popular culture, since their passive receptivity to the ugly messages and the values underlying them are—like their children’s passive receptivity—akin to a sponge soaking up water.
Taylor understates the extent to which both children and adults also need protection from the toxic tsunami of American popular culture
Teaching children compassion and using giving, unselfishness, and helping as the “best defense” against American popular culture is a bit overly simplistic, but still prudent and trying to raise compassionate kids is wise. His concept of a “rich life” that is built on a family-value culture is right on. Especially admirable is his community-value culture as an extension of family-value culture which “shares your most fundamental values, enveloping your children in a sort of value-powered force field that can repel much of American popular culture when your children are outside your home” is brilliantly simple and astute, and we’re especially happy to find this community context in a book about protecting kids.
Kids can do whatever they want on friends’ computers, cell phones, and TVs regardless of the rules of the family-value culture
A community-value culture is not that easy to create, however. But it is ultimately the very thing that may make or break the success of the family-value culture, since the other-directed forces outside the home will always be relentless and merciless and kids can do whatever they want on friends’ computers, cell phones, and TVs regardless of the rules of the family-value culture.
It's hard to influence one’s kids in the face of the media’s onslaught of ads for alcohol, etc.
Trying to influence one’s kids in the face of the media’s onslaught of ads for alcohol, cigarettes, and unneeded consumer products is a real challenge, and for the last century at least, if not many centuries, kids tend to find the things, ideas, and people that parents label forbidden as extremely attractive, since the easiest way for a kid to find a separate identity from parents is to use these forbidden entities as ready-made aspects of their identity—an identity with no similarity to their parents since it’s the opposite to what parents identify with.
Interestingly enough, ads in the late 1800s (newspapers, magazines) and the first half of the 1900s had less restrictive standards, often showing children in their cigarette, snuff, and alcohol ads—even showing a kid smoking a pipe. Some depiction of ladies on packaging and in ads featured see-through blouses. There were ads as late as the 1940s that claimed that smoking their cigarettes would cure a sore throat.
Here's the anti-smoking ad we WISH was found all over on TV and in magazines and online
And then there was the incredibly oxymoronic "thinking man's filter" on one cigarette brand in the 1950s—a "thinking man" would have the sense to refrain from smoking in the first place! So today's parents have a tough row to hoe to counter media influences, but with immoral tactics like those used in the "good old days," at least today's challenges are more about ubiquitousness than dirty marketing tactics. The exception here is having stars do lots of smoking and drinking in movies and on TV. This underhanded tactic is even more effective than ads, and it is legal, having done an end-run around regulations. If there'd been TV way back then in the "good old days," it's scary to imagine just what nasty tactics would be used to get young and old addicted to alcohol and tobacco!
This 'thinking man' needs to do some RE-thinking!
If Taylor’s plan involves enforced compliance with parents’ family-value culture rules, beliefs, and values, including punishments, then it will not work nearly as well as he asserts.
In the book Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn, Kohn says: “When young children wonder why they should be nice or resist certain temptations, parents have a choice. They can draw upon the respect and trust they've cultivated by loving their kids unconditionally, using reason and persuasion to explain how doing this thing rather than that thing is likely to affect other people. Or they can just appeal to naked power: ‘If you don't cut that out, you'll be punished.’ The problem with the latter approach is that once your power begins to ebb—and it will—you've got nothing left. As Thomas Gordon pointed out, ‘The inevitable result of consistently employing power to control [your] kids when they are young is that [you] never learn how to influence.’ The more you rely on punishment, therefore, the less real influence you'll have on their lives.”
That same Kohn book quotes various authors’ studies about using force, control, and punishment. All are proven to be bad for kids as well as less effective at influencing kids—including what values they adopt. At the very bottom of this website page Why Register for an MC? is a list of 16 more books that contain tons more evidence against control and punishment.
Registering for MC search and match
Taylor’s “community-value culture as an extension of family-value culture” is a marvelous idea but his ideas about enforcing it through control and rewards and punishment and praise are likely to backfire—these things are not good child-raising practices! He needs to adopt less authoritarian methods. The alternative is NOT permissiveness or neglect. It’s authoritative parenting. It comes in 3 flavors:
Pseudo-Authoritative (Authoritarian Lite): parenting like Diana Baumrind's control-based method that she calls “authoritative,” but which doesn’t jive with the better methods of authoritative parenting which came later, and which we consider Authoritarian Lite; we do NOT recommend this method.
Authoritative: parenting that uses the minimum amount of control except that it includes logical consequences like that of Rudolf Dreikurs.
Authoritative Lite: authoritative parenting that uses the minimum amount of control and does not include logical consequences, like that of Alfie Kohn and his Unconditional Parenting, although he doesn’t consider his method authoritative since he rejects control and logical consequences; we consider his method as well as Gordon’s P.E.T. to be a kind of Authoritative Lite. For more on why we believe this, see Authoritative Parenting Programs.
Using rewards and punishments is right for dog training, but wrong for child raising
It’s interesting that with all the scientific data from studies in the past 4 decades that have proven beyond doubt the negative effects of control, praise, force, rewards, and punishment, Taylor still chooses all of them for “enforcing” his family-value culture. This is a shame, and he should know better. He's been on a ton of talk shows and done lots of workshops and speeches and written lots of books and articles. He is prolific at telling people what he thinks, but not as prolific at studying the research and learning new things.
Here's a behaviorist's Skinner Box for conditioning LOWER animals—it uses rewards and punishments. Why would anyone insult a child by using this stuff on her? She's a human, not a rat!
Praise is a bad way of instilling self-esteem—it produces not self-esteem but dependency; verbally encouraging is bad for kids if it is done with You statements but good for kids if it is done with I statements ("I'm wondering how you felt when you drew that" or "I appreciate it when you help with dishes")
His writing is wandering, egotistical, disorganized, rambling, preachy, and at times self-contradictory; he sounds like a parent trying to justify power-trips. He’s into power and control and rewards and punishments. However, his indictment of American popular culture is so insightful, brave, and poignant that this book should be on every parent’s reading list. Hopefully, parents will look to other sources for their overall parenting style, but use Taylor’s book as their own personal antidote for American popular culture! (Just look what we're up against: R-rated violence that networks label PG-14 because TV-MA scares some advertisers! Our kids pay the price when networks mislable like this. The cable channels use the TV-MA label appropriately, but the networks purposely mislead, in pursuit of the almighty dollar!)
There is R-rated violence that TV networks label PG-14 because TV-MA scares some advertisers