From Publishers Weekly
Michael Medved, author, former Sneak Previews co-host and syndicated radio columnist, joins his wife, Diane, psychotherapist and author of The Case Against Divorce, in presenting a two-part argument against contemporary America's assault on childhood. The assault, they claim, is four-pronged, and is being launched by the media, the schools, children's peers and, finally, parents themselves. "Most emphatically, we do not advocate any kind of censorship," the authors state; instead they advocate shielding children from adult themes and issues until later in their lives. The Medveds attack broadly defined families, self-esteem-oriented teaching, politically popular ideas of sex and drug education ("they frighten children") and childhood icons of the 1990s?the books of R.L. Stine and Judy Blume. Their conservative slant (Diane Medved co-authored The American Family with Dan Quayle) is supported with exhaustive research from credible media and anecdotal vignettes from their career experiences as well as from their own home. As we meet their children and even share a Sabbath meal with them, their sobering concern about lost innocence becomes valid and relevant. Rather than prepare children for a grim reality, the authors argue, the intact family should hold them safely, until, as adults, they've gained the power and foresight to help solve the difficult problems created by well-intended liberal permissiveness. The defense of innocence, the Medveds conclude, is tri-fold: give children security, encourage their sense of wonder and feed them optimism.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The Medveds speak for many when they say that too much of present-day U.S. culture is inimical to childhood. And it isn't just a matter of trash TV for the former PBS-TV movie reviewer and his psychologist spouse. Other culprits are sensationalized news in all media; profane and violent amusements of all sorts; too early, too explicit sex education; fostering self-esteem at the expense of learning; dire, one-sided presentation to children of such large problems as environmental degradation; gangs and other bad peer groups; and parents spending too much time at work and not enough with their kids. Nor does that exhaust the Medveds' bill of indictable particulars that, they say, together tend to make children unnecessarily fearful, cynical, and sad. Indeed, two-thirds of their lively, heartfelt book consists of their analysis of the national assault on innocence. In the remaining third, and drawing heavily upon their parenting of two daughters and a son, all still under 12, they discuss how to maintain children's innocence for its proper duration by providing psychological security, encouraging children's sense of wonder, and inculcating optimism. Chief among specific actions they advise is--ironically enough, coming from a former TV "star" --to stop watching the tube and to read instead, especially to the kids. An honorable addition to the strain of child-advocacy literature that runs from Marie Winn's Children without Childhood (1981) to Dana Mack's Assault on Parenthood (1997). Ray Olson
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