I was inspired to write this blog piece after a fire was lit in my heart by 3 things:
1) This: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/9828589/Children-and-the-culture-of-pornography-Boys-will-ask-you-every-day-until-you-say-yes.html
2) A few weeks ago, I read a story posted by a fellow mom blogger (searching for the link still..) about a situation involving her very young daughter and a little boy. The boy was completely infatuated with her daughter. He constantly followed her around asking her to be his “girlfriend”. The little girl, for whatever reason, did not reciprocate his feelings and after some time, became uncomfortable with the attention. Her classmates began to notice and would tease her- you know, the typical kindergaren drama. But here is the thing: This mom went to the little boy’s parents and asked them to speak to their son and explain to him that her daughter wasn’t interested in his affections. Their response? But that will hurt him. Couldn’t she, wouldn’t she just give him a little note or something? Why does the little girl have to be so cold? This wise mama rightly told them that her daughter doesn’t owe the little boy anything, and does not have to reciprocate his affections if she doesn’t want to. The purpose of this mom posting this blog was to show how the rape culture can start forming at a much younger age if we are not careful about the values we teach our children. In this case, the little boy was learning that 1) if he badgered this girl enough, she might give in therefore it was appropriate and necessary to keep the badgering up. 2) He learned that he is entitled to some return of affection simply because he has affection for someone and has communicated that. Lastly, through his parent’s misguided actions, this little boy was learning that his feelings matter more than anyone elses.
3) Over the weekend, I attended a beautiful wedding- it was charming, whimsical, and more importantly, a celebration of pure love between two people I love. And then the dance started and right away, there was one girl that stood out to me. She was quite pretty, but unfortunately that isn’t what sticks in my mind. The reason I remember her is because she was wearing a little dress that was much too short- which became obvious as soon as she gave a girlish twirl. She also a couple dance moves that were almost exact replicas of dance moves I had seen in the odd music video- senual, provocative, wild. She also kept doing this full hair flip that seriously could only have been something she learned from watching something erotic, or watching someone else do it. I remember her the most, however, because she could not have been more than 15 years old.
Seriously, what happened to the awkward teen phase where you smell bad, you’re uncomfortable in you’re own skin, you have awkward pimples and you aren’t entirely sure what to wear?? I’m not saying to be awkward or rough, but I do think that this awkward phase communicates something beautiful- it’s innocence. It says something about this little man and beginning woman (coined by a 15 year old Vanessa Crosby on The Crosby Show)– that they are growing into themselves, finding themselves.
What freaked my husband and I out the most about this girl was how sexual she was. I could go into this alot more, but for the purpose of this blog, I only have one question: Where are her parents?
As #1 explains, the effects of porn on young people today is massive. like.. MASSIVE. Recently, I discovered more deeply the effects of technology on young minds. I see it daily in my son, William as he is constantly trying to grab my phone and chats to the computer as soon as he sees it, trying to look at the screen. He is very little but his brain is developing rapidly- everything has an effect. The same is true for these young teenagers whose brains and social skills are developing at a rapid pace, and parents, we NEED to be diligent. #1 misses the point- the author points to technology as the reason for the oversexualization of our culture, but the real heart of the issue lies with poor parenting- unwatchful parenting. Parents who are abdicating their responsibilities to the TV, peers, teachers, and technology.
The messages on the screen are sending rapid-fire signals to these young minds that are subconsciously teaching them what is right and wrong, what behaviour is acceptable, what is not. We may not ever know the impact of just letting our young teenagers watch “whatever they want for an hour”. No, diligence is required NOW.
We are raising children in an extremely sexualized culture and we may not realize it till it is too late. It starts with Toddlers and Tiaras, Barbie Dolls with Giant racks and tiny hips. It ends with Miley Sirus and Selina Gomez agreeing to do nude scenes.
In this situation with this girl from the wedding, I didn’t even necessarily expect her mother to do anything in the moment- I would not want her publically shamed by any means. What did cross my mind was where had she been all the times this girl was watching and learning these dance moves? Was she diligent about knowing what her daughter was learning and watching at school? Who were her friends? Even if this girl was copying these moves sub-consciously and didn’t quite understand what she was doing, isn’t that still a problem? Subconsciously, this little woman was being taught to be sexual. Some day, that subconscious behaviour will become conscious behaviour if not curbed. If she is not taught about the messages her behaviour is sending to boys. Here is one analysis of the kind of message she is likely sending: http://www.qideas.org/video/the-evolution-of-the-swimsuit.aspx
As usual, to close….here is the age old question: What can we do as mamas, as parents? As siblings?
1) Explain to your daughters and sons about modesty. About what provocative messaging is- the lies is communicates about the opposite sex, about themselves. Show them how to see truth in a world that is consistently lying to them.
2) Be diligent about knowing what they are up to when they do have screen time, TV and computer. My husband and I have already decided that our family computer will be in the living room, and that noone is permitted to have their laptop in their room. We have also read about great ideas regarding changing WiFi passwords and having a cut off time for when the WiFi shuts off. Things like this teach children boundries and give them much needed accountability as they are learning to navigate life. Who are their role models?
3) Communication is totally key at a fragile awkward stage. Have open (yes, probably somewhat awkward) communcation about whats going on with them physically and the changes are they are to see. But make it positive! To reference the Crosby Show again, have a woman’s day to celebrate the transition into womanhood. Have a manly day too!! This tells your children that their sexuality is something to be celebrated and cherished. Hopefully this will grow overtime as they get older and begin to understand how easy it is to let someone else devalue you if you do not value yourself.
By Ruth Shaw