Friday, December 30, 2011

Whatever Happened to Kids Being Kids?

I find it deeply disturbing how much today's children know about sex and sexuality at such a young age. I went out to dinner last night with a women's social group. One member at our table, a teacher, recounted stories that, while not terribly surprising, would still curl anyone's hair. A second grader came to school one day wearing gold "hooker heels", a micro mini and a low-cut top that was a size too small for her. A 7th grader who routinely dressed the same way was pregnant by the following year--despite the teachers' attempts to warn the mother (who stormed into the school showing off her enormous cleavage and butterfly tattoo on her chest, defending her daughter with the first amendment excuse.) A young boy was frustrated because, he said, "the girls won't leave me alone and stop asking me out." According to our dining companion he said he "just wanted to play basketball--not go out with girls." 

Another woman mentioned how her 5 year-old niece has mastered the art of flirting--when going out to eat with her parents recently, she batted her eyelids and flirted with the waiter--who "rewarded" her with an extra bowl of bread. 

In my Decline of Marriage post from a few weeks ago, I mentioned the book "The Good Girl Revolution" by Wendy Shalit. In the first chapter, she discusses the influence of pop culture on today's young girls and how it's not helping the situation. In particular she discusses the lack of modest clothing options (one company mentioned in the book actually makes thong underwear for 8 year olds) and how the Bratz line of dolls started the trend of dolls that are dressed like sluts. I guess the polyester pants from Sears that I wore in the 70s wouldn't fly with today's girls or their parents. A few years ago, a line of pony dolls called "Struts" were released that look like Victoria's Secret supermodels--wearing high heels, jewelry, and fashion accessories. Really? What was wrong with My Pretty Pony?

And don't even get me started on the piece of garbage show known as Toddlers & Tiaras--which earlier this year featured a mother who purposely dressed her 3 year-old daughter up as Julia Roberts' hooker character from Pretty Woman.

Holy whores, Batman! What the good gravy is wrong with our society today? Seems like it is truly headed down the toilet. I'm not a parent, but I feel sorry for anyone raising kids today who wish to shield them from sexual influences, particularly those who have daughters. Kids today are growing up way too fast and have limited choices when it comes to role models. I remember when Mary Lou Retton and other female athletes were looked up to. Today, according to the teacher who was at my dinner table, it's people like Snooki. Snooki was actually cited by two young girls in her class as their hero (on Who's Your Hero Day) because she has "'tude" and is "sexy." My immediate thought was why were the ridiculous parents letting them watch Jersey Shore in the first place? Jersey Shore is a show for grown ups, not little girls. 

Kids today don't seem to have much of an innocent childhood.

Despite the yearly sex ed classes, I truly didn't feel that I know much about sex until I was in high school. I didn't even know what it meant to be sexy until I was in college. It's only recently--in my late 30s--that I feel like I know how to flirt! The only girl we know of who got pregnant the entire time I went to high school happened during our senior year and it disturbed us. Who would want to get pregnant, when we were going off to college and had our whole lives in front of us? Unfortunately, today we have shows like MTV's Teen Moms which is supposed to show the unglamorous side of teenage motherhood, but instead had the opposite effect when a girl got pregnant on purpose to be on the show and become famous. 

For many pre-teen boys, their first look at naked or semi-nude women came from sneaking their old man's dirty magazine collection or looking at the undergarment section of the Sears catalog. 

That is not to say that kids in my junior high and high school weren't having sex. Teens have always been having sex, but their knowledge and experimentation is occurring at earlier and scarier ages. I remember a few years ago Oprah did a show about oral sex among pre-teens...12 and 13 year-old boys and girls who had shared many oral sex partners in their school. These kids didn't think much of it because President Clinton had declared that oral sex wasn't the same as real sex during the Lewinsky scandal. The girls didn't seem to care that they were at an increased risk at contradicting diseases. 

Technology isn't helping. Teens and pre-teens think nothing of "sexting" and sending sexy photos to each other using their smartphones. It landed at least one teen--who distributed pictures of his steady girlfriend to several friends and family members (what?!)--on the sex offender list.

Parents aren't doing their job. Yes, we have pop culture and toy influences but we can't place all of the blame on TV shows, musicians and the toy companies (personally, I think if parents are unhappy with certain toys and clothing manufacturers they should let them know, as was the case when Abercrombie & Fitch tried to advertise bikini tops for 8 year-old girls which attracted many negative comments on their Facebook page.) Parents need to talk to their kids about sex and stress the importance of waiting until they're older and not giving in to peer pressure. Watch what your children are watching on TV and look for clothing alternatives to letting them dress like a hooker. We need a return to family values.

P.S. I didn't mention the disturbing trend of girls going through puberty at earlier ages, because that is something beyond their control (and is a sad situation for sure.)

9 comments:

Amanda said...

Totally agree. Now as an adult, I look fondly on my childhood days. If only they knew how wonderful and less stressful it is to be a child. Everything is oversexualized these days. It's quite disgusting. It's sad when girls are done with dolls by age 5. They grow up WAY too fast with no good reason. People live longer, so there is no reason for it. It's sad when the idols of kids these days are those 'wonderful' people on 'Jersey Shore' and '16 and pregnant'.

Laura Moncur said...

Oh, you forgot to say,

"Get off my lawn!"

Darrin.. said...

It's so hard for me to restrain from ranting on my posts about topics like this. I usually try to keep my posts "light" but eventually a rant pops up every now and again.

You're definitely right about the family values comment. While I know I can't be there for my kids every second of the day, and kids HAVE to stand on their own merit eventually, I've intently tried to impress upon them (maybe harped at times) that you can never go wrong if you surround yourself with good people. It's a virtue that thankfully has served them all very well so far. My teen and pre-teen daughters have distanced themselves from sketchy friends without myself or my wife urging them to do so. I can't tell you how proud (and relieved ) I was upon learning this!!

dryheat45 said...

(Thunderous applause)
Wow, that was perfect. Honey, you should be a mom. I have two officially legal daughters who still live at home going to college, and you hit it square; parents are NOT their children's friend, THEY ARE THE PARENT! Both of my girls managed to make it through childhood being children because we set limits on what was acceptable behavior and clothing. You are a wise woman.

Pam@GoRetro said...

Amanda--I was still playing with Barbie dolls when I was 11, 12 years old! At the time I suppose some of their outfits might have been considered sexy but it's nothing compared to the Bratz dolls of today. It is really sad to consider what children are watching today compared to my childhood of the 70s and 80s...all those great sitcoms, many of which taught life lessons!

Darrin--I think that's very good advice that you gave your kids. I remember when I was in the 7th or 8th grade and this girl took a liking to me for some reason...she was one of those tough types who smoked in the girls' room, backtalked teachers and was definitely not a virgin. Even though I had few friends during that period of schoo, I felt very uncomfortable at the thought of having her as one. I was able to alienate myself from her and when I reached high school I found a great clique of gals on my level, some of whom I'm still in touch with today.

dryheat45--Thank you so much, that's probably the best compliment I've ever received, although I would imagine if I did find myself a parent I would find the job to be VERY hard. It's one thing to say you'd act a certain way when you're not actually in the situation. However, I commend you on doing a great job raising your daughters well!

Tom said...

@dryheat45:
"parents are NOT their children's friend"

It's so sad that so many parents do not understand that. Being a parent is so much more than being a friend because you have to be able to tolerate your children hating you some times. I'm the father of 5 and there are plenty of times I tell them no and they get angry with me. But trust me, they come back around quickly.

I could easily go off on a rant about the parents I observe at school gatherings and how the whole problem is they never grew up themselves, but I'll refrain.

Amanda By Night said...

I totally agree with this, although I will say where I went to school, we had oodles of pregnancies in the 80s. When I say oodles, I should say maybe 1% of 600 kids per class, but that's, like 24 kids a year! And that's NOTHING in comparison to today, it seems.

One thing a younger friend of mine pointed out to me about the 80s was that she was jealous of how girls could cover up back then and you could still look cool. She said by the 90s, when she was a teenager, it was all about skin. Of course, you could point out some skin in the 80s as well, but really, who didn't love a good comfy cable knit sweater! :)

Also, my cousin bought his daughter an iPad recently. She's 2. That's just weird to me.

Sorry I have been around Ms. Go Retro. I've missed you!

Teena in Toronto said...

We were so much more innocent when we were kids.

silvervisions said...

It's all up to the parents and what they permit. We are vigilant, our daughters have innocent, fun toys plus they can spot a "cheap woman" at twenty paces lol. We've taught them that showing your body for all the world to see sends a message that you have low self esteem and little self respect. No music with suggestive lyrics or video clips is allowed - but they love 60s & 70s music (aka real music) as well as kids songs & folk songs. I'm fine with them having make-up for dress-ups and playing being ladies, but not for everyday! One of their classmates came to the recent school disco dressed up like man-bait, in towering wedge heels and enough make-up to paint a small room. The poor little girl couldn't dance in those shoes, and spent the night tottering around, nervously chewing her hair. She is 8 years old :(

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