Beliefnet
Dan Quayle, Dr. Laura, and Focus on the Family didn't do the trick. Will America's parents pay more attention to their spouses and children if unlikely celebrities tell them to?

Such appears to be the logic behind Heal the Kids, a new family initiative that's the brainchild of Michael Jackson and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. On Valentine's Day, the two led a panel at New York's Carnegie Hall to discuss how parents can provide "nurturing care" to their children while balancing the demands of career and marriage. The six panelists: trial lawyer Johnnie Cochran, Dr. Drew Pinsky of MTV's "Loveline," TV personality Mother Love, publisher Judith Regan, "Temptation Island" host Mark L. Wahlburg, and child psychiatrist Stanley Greenspan.

How can we create strong, loving families in an increasingly busy and media-saturated world? Read selected quotes from the event and respond to the panelists' statements on our message boards.

From Michael Jackson's introduction:
"Tonight, we're here in the world's most famous concert hall to hear an entirely different kind of music, a loftier melody.... This music I speak of is...more harmonious than a thousand voices joined in a hymn, and more powerful than all the world's percussive instruments combined.... That sound is the sweet sound of love. That sound has become a forgotten refrain. Instead of dinner conversations, there is the noise of video games. Instead of regular conversations between parents and children about drugs or violence, there is the deafening sound of silence."

"Who would have believed that the sound of children at their playgrounds would be replaced by the sound of automatic machine-gun fire? That the sound of little girls skipping rope would be overshadowed by the frantic screams of little children dodging bullets? Yet, instead of loving our children more, we install metal detectors in our schools."

"With two children of my own, I know what it means to balance the demands of family and career--and let's not even talk about finding a date for myself. Rabbi Shmuley keeps telling me he'll find me the perfect woman. My response is, 'As long as she's not a journalist.'"

From Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's introduction:
"This initiative, Heal the Kids, is designed to save us from the worst kind of hell: a life where you are surrounded by people and you're still totally alone; a life where your children don't talk to you about meaning, but rather about your being a pay station for PlayStation; a life where the TV always blared, but your soul was never bared; a life where shopping at Barney's came before playing with your children and their Barneys...a life where surfing the Internet for content came before searching hearts for meaning."

"Who would've believed one day we'd hear of parents bored of their children turning on fantasy television--"Star Wars," "The Wizard of Oz"? Have you ever heard of escaping your children's reality by escaping into someone else's reality?"

"We're talking about you having deprived them of every child's birthright: the right to feel loved without deserving it, to feel admired without earning it."

Selected quotes from panelist presentations:

"Quit being a bunch of whiny, sniveling, scared-of-your-children parents."--Mother Love

"Parenting is a painful, miserable, wretched job. But it's your job. And we have abdicated that job when it doesn't fit with our needs. When it's a hassle."--Dr. Drew Pinsky

"Early nurturing teaches people to respect others, to empathize with others, to think, to be creative. It's the glue that holds society together. When that hits the road, we see polarized or arrested thinking. We see impulsivity. We see apathy and withdrawal. These are the symptoms of the lack of nurturing care."--Dr. Stanley Greenspan

"Even when your children are grown, make yourself available to them.... Call them, spend time with them, include them in your plans.... Let them know they are and continue to be a priority."--Johnnie Cochran

"Temptation is everywhere we go. People say, 'What are you doing on that evil, evil show?' But I say, 'Is there a prize on "Temptation Island"?' No. Except that at the end, the couples are going to know the value of their relationship.... If you knew the value of your relationship, you would never, ever, risk it to temptation."--Mark L. Wahlburg

"I love my work. Having a man in my life would probably be a beautiful thing too--I wouldn't know. Work and relationships can make having it all even better. But they come and go. Your children are forever."--Judith Regan

"Someone said to me one time, 'It's so weird. You are so polite to your husband and son.' OK, duh. If I'm going to be nice to Johnnie Cochran and Dr. Greenspan, why would I not be nice to my man?"--Mother Love

"My position today was to talk to you about keeping the romance alive in your relationship, in your marriages, in your home. Because trust me, don't you think for an instant that your children don't see, don't feel, don't hear when you're hurt. When it's not right. They might not understand, they might not know why mommy's going in the bathroom and crying her eyes out. Why daddy is stomping off.... It is important that your children see you loving one another."--Mother Love

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