There is a constant bombardment of choices when it comes to parenting. Many decisions need to be made about where we will stand and why. Balance is sought, but we have to figure out where that balance even is, as there will always be someone who finds the decision too strict and someone else who finds it too lenient.
I have had to make many choices. Some came natural and others required research. Some felt like the solid, right choice while others brought up conflicting thoughts. Some went with the flow and others were definitely against the grain.
One issue that will be a fight against our surroundings is sexuality. I want my child, my only baby, to enjoy her childhood as long as possible. Before having her I had more concrete, straight-laced ideas. No Disney, with the man always saving the helpless woman. No sexy music videos. No toy catalogues. No magazines with half dressed women in the ads. I was planning on sheltering her.
After having her I questioned my puritanical motives. I know that, in this area and others like junk food and tv, making the boundaries too rigid will just result in her not developing adequate self control as well as producing in her the desire to rebel. I have witnessed this happen. So I must give my convictions some cogitation.
I am glad that many areas have improved for men and women and their rights. I know that trends come out of a pendulum swing of trying to break free of the bonds of the past. I do appreciate that the topic of sex is no longer taboo. My daughter won't go into a relationship (waaaay down the road) terrified with no idea. But hopefully I can help her develop a healthy attitude about her body and when she will allow someone else to share it with her.
Today, my mind was reopened to its battle with what is acceptable in such a market-based society. I watched the movie Sext Up Kids on CBC. I won't go in to the many points that confirmed my desire to keep my daughter from having to deal with sexuality at such a young age. But unfortunately, the video confirmed how difficult that is going to be.
I hate commercial marketing. Money comes before anything else. (Check out some of the other issues in advertising to children here). Sex sells. Musicians can sell more music with sexy. And so that is what they do. Clothes are marketed to make a person look hot. And it makes its way off the shelf, so this feature is being offered to a lower and lower age. Everywhere we look, it's all about being sensual, seductive, flirtatious.
Porn used to be hard to find. Now it is available without entering the corner store. Just the click of a mouse. Or the phone. Society is accepting it and, as the video says, pop culture is becoming what would be considered soft porn a few years ago.
And we let it filter into our children's lives thinking it is harmless and cute. Because, we figure, they don't understand, and it doesn't mean that to them. Dance away like that. Wear what you want. Watch whatever. I may sound like a prude. But, then they become teenagers and they are already in the flow of sexuality. They are experienced and now they hunger to get noticed by the opposite sex and they'll use it. Being a teenager is an insecure period. Now, there are more methods to get noticed.
The problem is that the younger these opportunities to realize the meaning and use of sexuality arise, the less the brain is developed to handle it. Risky actions are taken that will effect self confidence, and even how they are viewed by others, for a long time to come. It only takes one time to get an STD. It only takes one picture to go viral online.
We live in a high tech, easy to share, easy to find information society. I am very grateful that I didn't have email until about graduation, Facebook until I was 30, a cell phone until I was married. My party scene is just in the forgotten (hopefully) memories of some and not plastered all over cyberspace. A place more public than young people believe.
The Internet is great in its plethora of information. But some of that information doesn't need to be accessed by children. There are topics in parenting I haven't quite set myself on yet, but I will help monitor what my daughter looks upon online, on tv, on paper. And I hope her family would love her enough to do that as well.
I accept that some people wouldn't agree it is an issue. I know that my faith and my belief that sex is a wonderful thing in a monogamous relationship will close me down to some things that others will feel is okay, like teenagers experimenting with sex. I know some people will continue to believe "sexy" as a theme for children is harmless. But I truly believe things are going to get worse and one day matters will start to change. We will realize the effects and we will choose to take action instead of ignoring and saying, "It will be okay".
I encourage you to watch the video. I watched it with some other mothers and I was glad to hear their hope that there will be other families out there who don't want to follow the mainstream culture. They want to ask themselves, "What is right for my child and his or her development and his or her future?"