Rebecca Hagelin’s new book, 30 Ways in 30 Days to Save Your Family, finds its place in a long list of helpful books like Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters and Boys Should be Boys, and offers many practical insights into how parents can protect their families from the insidious elements of our culture. Hagelin mixes personal stories sent in by parents across the country with a wealth of statistics to back up some of parents’ worst fears: teen pregnancy is on the rise, children’s exposure to pornography online is at staggering levels, and the mass media is out to raise your child.
But all is not lost. Alongside her statistics, Hagelin provides brief, instructive ways to guard your family from the negative aspects of the culture. She also includes many examples of families that have fought the fight and won. Granted, many of her points are commonsensical: do not let your teen boys have access to pornography on the Internet. But, I think that many parents today do not see the glaring ways that society can influence your child. (For instance, how many parents really know about what goes on on Facebook or how people can use similar outlets to get information from your child?)
Hagelin is not one for retreating into a cultural wilderness. She is for engaging the culture, but teaching children along the way that the culture is often misguided, and sometimes downright perverse. That sometimes takes the tone of being very Puritanistic in her approach, but perhaps that is a necessary corrective stance to today’s rampant sexualization of culture. 30 Ways in 30 Days offers a very practical approach to battling the culture, and is an approach that many parents can and will follow through on.
At the end of each chapter, Hagelin includes Action Items that encourage the reader to “sign on the dotted line” and pledge to do something the chapter discussed. It may be to install an Internet filter on your computer, it may be to evaluate your friendships so that you know you are providing your children with a good example of true friends, or it may be committing to spending time with your children. Whatever the action, these are small and simple ways that parents can make themselves accountable for the decisions they make to better their families. They are a bit corny, but may help some parents make lasting decisions.
After reading the book, you realize that there are many ways in which parents can let the culture take over their families. But you also see that there are just as many opportunities for you to make your family stand out among the crowd. You have the chance to make of your family a beacon to others and to join others who are fighting the same fight. Indeed, Hagelin suggests you join other families who are trying to live the same way. By having allies in the battle, the quest will not seem so arduous and you will have many examples of families at different stages who have succeeded in implementing these values.
Hagelin’s book is a great resource book for parents who need something quick, practical, and lively to read to get their families back on track. While the book is geared more toward parents with school- or teenage children, I found the book helpful as a parent of a two-year old who is laying the foundation of a truly holy family. Those with teens who feel that their children are out of control may benefit even more. While I would have liked a more thorough and nuanced approach regarding some issues, I think the book is helpful overall. Hagelin’s suggestions, often implemented in a single day, could really change–and, yes, save–your family.