Engage with Culture: Two Books for Parents

Mama Bear Apologetics and The Pop Culture Parent both aim to help parents interact with the culture surrounding their kids.

Mama Bear Apologetics: Empowering Your Kids to Challenge Cultural Lies, edited by Hillary Morgan Ferrer. Harvest House Publishers, 2019. 288 pages.

cover of mama bear apologetics

Reading Level: Adult

Recommended For: parents, educators, youth leaders, and others who work with young people

We moms sometimes joke about turning into a mama bear: don’t mess with my kid. Even relatively placid mothers will fight to the death for their children. Ferrer and her fellow writers are speaking directly to this love for our children and challenging moms (and any other adults who work with children they love!) to know how to meet the “lies” of our culture head on. Introductory material outlines how to “ROAR”: Recognize the message, Offer discernment (affirming the good and rejecting the bad), Argue for a healthier approach, and Reinforce through discussion, discipleship, and prayer (taken from page 54). Consecutive chapters look more closely at various “isms” in our Western culture, everything from “Self-Helpism” to naturalism, feminism, Marxism, and more.

Written primarily to parents who may not have thought of some of these issues before, the authors encourage readers to read between the lines and engage with the messages your children and teens are hearing and seeing. The chapter on linguistic theft alone is worth the price of the book. Their consistent encouragement to find the good amidst the bad is welcome. Some readers may be put off by the tone and rhetoric, as if we readers aren’t smart enough to figure some of this out on our own. But the truth is, many busy parents don’t have time to figure out these messages on their own! Discussion questions follow each chapter, making this a good candidate for a group discussion. The Mama Bear website has loads of terrific follow-up resources, worth bookmarking even if you don’t read the book itself.

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • Worldview/Moral Rating: 4.75 out of 5
  • Literary/Artistic Rating: 4.25 out of 5

*The Pop Culture Parent: Helping Kids Engage Their World for Christ by Ted Turner, E. Stephen Burnett, and Jared Moore. New Growth Press, 2020. 288 pages.

  • Reading Level: Adult
  • Recommended For: parents, educators, youth leaders, and other who work with young people

Where Mama Bear Apologetics feels defensive at times, The Pop Culture Parent takes a more offensive approach. Specifically, the authors examine pop culture from a biblical perspective, review our calling as parents, propose biblical strategies for engaging with culture, and explore what this looks like for different ages (p. 5). They outline what gospel-centered parenting should look like and why, as Christian parents, we can’t be hands-off (on the one hand) or helicopters (on the other). Central to their approach is parents’ responsibility to know the hearts of their children and teens as well as to know what cultural goods are surrounding their children and teens. Before casting judgment and rolling our eyes, we’re called to engage with both our kids and their interests. Listen and learn first.

Winsomely, The Pop Culture Parent walks parents through three examples in great detail: Frozen (for younger children), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (for older children), and Fortnite Battle Royale (for teens). Reading a “practice session” is tremendously helpful; no parent will have the exact same conversations with their own children, but reading how a possible conversation might unfold makes the authors’ recommendations more accessible. Their desire to find the common grace in a given cultural work before unpacking the issues that might be lurking beneath the surface is a good reminder as we seek to disciple our children and teens to be wise consumers of culture. The authors’ consistent reminder to look to Christ for the ultimate answers moves the book from being a legalistic gatekeeping approach to one of earnest discipleship and relationship-building. You may read the first chapter at the authors’ website.

Overall Rating: 4.75 out of 5

  • Worldview Rating: 5 out of 5
  • Literary/Artistic Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Betsy is the Managing Editor at Redeemed Reader. When she reads ahead for you, she uses sticky notes instead of book darts and willfully dog ears pages even in library books. Betsy is a fan of George MacDonald, robust book discussions, and the Oxford comma. She lives with her husband and their three children in the beautiful Northwest.

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