Model, Mirror, and Mentor
There's an old adage that holds that as soon a man's become especially good at something he immediately begins to overestimate its importance. Baseball players speak of being witnesses to a great moment in history whenever the home-run record is challenged, forgetting that the event in question is all about hitting a ball with a stick.
The same is true of those of us who study the media. Whether we love it or hate it, whether we work in it, critique it, run scientific studies on it, or just pay special attention to it as parents, the more time we spend with it, the more important we think it is in our children's lives. In fact, it becomes far more important to us than to the children, who are blissfully unaware of it as anything but entertainment.
The opposite may be true of parenting. Because none of us ever feel like we really know what we're doing, it's easy for us to fear that we're insignificant and powerless—especially in the face of a huge, arrogant, intrusive entertainment industry that's criticized by so many experts. Senator Joe Lieberman recently said that the purpose of congressional hearings on entertainment isn't so much to open the door to legislation as to educate parents and reassure them that someone's on their side. Parents, he said, "feel they are competing with the entertainment industry to teach their kids values."