So is this truth? Can we, as parents, really not raise healthy children when there is so much that is vying for their attention? I agree media and marketing have played a huge role in encouraging our children to engage in “being adult” much before their time. However, that does not make you powerless.
I remember taking my grand daughter out on her 10th birthday and going to what I considered a sensible store. However, what she chose as an acceptable clothing item and what I thought was acceptable were two very different articles! Another time we were going to buy a CD for one of them for Christmas but when the lyrics came to light there was no way!
There is much that you can do to guide your child through this time. But the most important thing is to affirm them. Tell them they are great looking, that they are smart and that they are a gift to you. Tell them from the beginning and keep on telling them. And if you haven’t started from birth, now is a good time to start. Self-confidence is built into children by their parents. So, communicate. Speak to them about the images they see and what is being portrayed. You want them to know that you are approachable and a good listener not judgmental. At the same time you want to build discernment into their character: ‘is this acceptable?’ ‘Should this be acceptable?’
Watch and listen to what they are watching. If there is something you don’t agree with, or are disturbed by, discuss it with them. Often young people will just sing along to a song without even thinking about the words. You need to have a good look at the content and then discuss it with them. Words are powerful! Do you want your child singing about ‘so many boys, so little time’ or wearing a t-shirt with that phrase emblazoned upon it? When you are purchasing clothing for your children, look at the words and ask yourself, ‘Do I want this spoken over them?’ I went to buy a dress for our one-month-old granddaughter the other day. I just wanted something sweet, something that looked cute but could be worn at anytime. I ended up in disappointment. Even at that early age the clothing was reflecting “sexy”. How sad!
Young girls and boys need to develop a healthy self-image. Then they can learn to be themselves rather than blindly following the crowd and becoming a “sexy tweeny”. Allow them the privilege of having a childhood based in innocence and fun, not one that is driven by media marketing. At the same time educate them so they can develop opinions and not be driven by the “in crowd”. Let us have some positive answers for our “toxic cultural environment” and develop happy homes!