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Parenting without Annette 

Knowing the constant gives perspective. --- Tao Te Ching

As a parent, I love the commercial media. Every nasty, morally bankrupt minute is a Godsend. Cable is even better.

My folks started a family with Donna Reed and Father Knows Best as their standard. Wally and the Beaver were good, wholesome kids, and mouse-eared Annette had that marvelous, innocent twinkle in her eye. Marcia was hot, but modest. Shucks, even Otis the town drunk never gave Sheriff Taylor any real trouble. The television intoned what family and community life must be. Who could possibly measure up to such cruelly high standards?

Today's media culture is far less sanctimonious. Our heroes are thrown up and torn down at breakneck speed. Motivation is almost always questioned. "Reality" show idols eventually stick a knife in whatever back they're scratching. Dads tend to be inept. Moms are often shrews. Kids are conniving little manipulators. Who could possibly fall beneath such crass, low standards?

With the help of HDTV, my children see clearly that perfection is myth. As the digital screens get flatter and thinner, the current generation can see behind what we cathode-ray-tubers considered rock-solid. Cynical?Perhaps. But our children are also becoming far harder marks for the hucksters to hit.

Corporate media's gradual abandonment of broadcast standards means we set our own. Every time my kids and I dodge a mass-murder commercial we say brutality is to be avoided, not celebrated. Whenever we channel-surf past people half out of their minds and their underwear, we affirm sexuality as a gift, not a ploy. Appear in public without Gameboy pacifiers and we join a human race already in progress.

So God bless our corporate media conglomerate. Any fool can create life lessons simply by turning off and finding something better to do.

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