Introducing "Mom Says/Dad Says," an exclusive Christian parental advice column by Gregory Slayton, former U.S. Ambassador to Bermuda and author of the best-selling book Be a Better Dad Today: Ten Tools Every Father Needs, and his wife, Marina Slayton, author of the new book Be The Best Mom You Can Be. The Slaytons have been featured on Fox and Friends, Focus on the Family Radio and numerous other media outlets. They donate 100% of their royalties from parenting books to fatherhood and family non-profits.
Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman, Governors Jeb Bush and Sam Brownback and Pastors Tim Keller and Luis Palau, among others, have endorsed the Slaytons. In their exclusive series for The Christian Post, both Marina and Gregory will answer thoughtful Christian parents seeking to raise their children up in the goodness of the Gospel and the Glory of God. If you would like to have Marina and Gregory answer your questions, please contact them via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parent's Question: Our child, age 14, brought home "Game of Thrones" to read. He says that everyone is reading it but we object to the content. He does not usually enjoy reading for pleasure. But while we are delighted that he is reading on his own, we are concerned that he is being exposed to inappropriate material. What should we do?
Moms says: Be concerned, be very concerned. Not only is the book inappropriate age wise (actually, I don't think it is appropriate for any age) it is also filled with the occult, a subject that is all too frequent in the kids' section of libraries – most likely, as a result of publishing companies realizing the lucrative aspect of selling the occult.
First of all, because of all the publicity I felt impelled to look at the book several years ago (parents cannot shy away from these issues, because the world does not shy away from them). I only glanced at the book, but was struck by several things; firstly, the writing isn't particularly good so no one will develop a greater appreciation for the art and craft of written word.
Secondly, the pornographic nature of it is gratuitous and actually quite frightening. What do I mean by that? Sex and rape are graphic in the book (and in the TV series. I saw my first episode in June after I read news articles condemning the rape scenes, but what sickened me, and I mean disgusted me, was the pedophilia I saw. Mark my words, as our culture keeps pushing the bounds by which the audience is shocked, we will be seeing more pedophilia on TV, a fact which should wake us up to where we are as a society).
Your child will not be developing creatively or cognitively by reading this drivel, he will actually be torn down. I agree it is challenging to find reading materials that grab at the hearts of our kids, but I found that giving my kids carefully curated classics is the way to go. Short stories are a wonderful way to start because of the quick gratification that a story gives. So have them read Maupassant, Tolstoy and Chekhov.
Throw in some Sir Conan Doyle and Isek Dinesen (Babette's Feast). My children adored "The Lady or the Tiger" and there are lesser known writers such as Kate Chopin who are true artists and who reveal much about our history and culture. These works are art, they are real, and they are fun. Trust me on this. We pulled out our eleven-yea-old from a private school due to bullying, and he was the child who most hated reading. The power of art grabbed him and his favorite story was, and is, "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" Wow! So spend time learning what your child likes (a war buff? a history buff? Maybe that is why he is reading the book since it is a riff on the War of the Roses). Then seek these books out. Your time will be richly rewarded.
Dad Says: I have a good friend who reads books with his son. That is a great idea. They both select a book (which means Dad has a veto) and then they read it together. They also discuss it together, which is a lot of fun. I love doing that with our kids, although I wish I had done it more. I do always encourage our children to be reading a good book – and I try to set a good example by reading myself (which I love to do).
As the old saying goes "More is caught than is taught." So be sure you as parents are reading and discussing great books you are reading. That will get your kids interested. Be sure to work with your kids English teachers too. Advocate for the classics in the classroom. All the students – and the teachers – will benefit.