Are kids growing up too fast? ‘Too Sexy Too Soon‘ is the title of this morning’s interview on FOX & Friends weekend with this parenting expert. I invite you to watch this informative interview with hosts Alisyn Camerota and Clayton Morris. Below you will find talking points including 4 real life scenarios and parenting tips.
In our youth culture of today children are exposed to many things that can be considered an over-sexualization of youth in terms of what is being presented as “right”. Television, movies, video games, music videos, celebrities photos in magazines, and their friends opinions. Have we become desensitized as parents? A sexual youth culture has grown on us like a vine on a house, before you know it the house is covered and we are just living with it not realizing our house green. Can parents counteract, tame, and/or exacerbate what children are experiencing to affect who they become? The answer: absolutely. Provided below are 4 scenarios with parenting tips that you will find can be used for a wide range of challenges parents experience when it comes to our youth and the concept of ‘too sexy too soon’.
Your tween daughter wants to go to a Miley Cyrus themed dance party at her friend’s house that will have boys & girls. Do you let her go?
ANSWER & PARENTING TIP #1:
Be mindful of the balance of being a part of this generation and keeping your core values while teaching values to your daughter.
You can let her go after you have met the parents to find out what their involvement will be, discuss what she will be wearing and what message she feels it would send and what message she wants to send, set a curfew, discuss your values and concerns and ask her what hers are, and discuss if there is anything that makes her feel uncomfortable while there to call you.
Miley Cyrus is not alone, many former tween stars have made shifts and become more sexual as they have aged (e.g., Selena Gomez, Lindsay Lohan), use this as an opportunity to explore with your daughter how she feels about their changes, what she agrees with and disagrees with, and what she hopes her personal evolution will entail.
Your 10-yr-old son tells you a classmate explained the explicit meaning of the words used in a Lady Gaga song. How should you handle this?
ANSWER & PARENTING TIP #2:
Consider his media environment, the impact it is having on him, and discuss it with him (e.g., what he is watching on TV, videos, music, and what his friends are watching/listening to and therefore talking about).
Discuss with your son how his media experience is affecting him, talk with him about what he is feeling and experiencing. Share with him boys and girls feel comfortable with different information, knowledge, and experiences at different ages.
Use this as a window of opportunity to discuss what healthy sexual relations are, if you have not already with your child.
Discuss that even though we have become a culture where there is so much focus on the theme of sex, explain to them that your focus is on your and their efforts, work ethic, accomplishments, compassion, personality, character, and goals, which is what is important.
Your 6 or 7 year old wants to wear make-up to school to be like a beauty queen.
ANSWER & PARENTING TIP #3:
Discuss with your child what having good character is and give lots of positive feedback for her character. Talk about inner and outer beauty.
Explore what she thinks wearing make-up will make her feel like, and discuss with her if she can feel those same positive feelings without make up. Discuss situations that would be circumstances that make-up seems like the best plan, and other contexts that it appears make-up would not be the ideal plan. Try to help guide her to the outcome and belief that not wearing make-up to school at 6 years old makes her feel fabulous, specifically what are qualities about her that are absolutely gorgeous (e.g., her great skill for drawing, kindness to her friends, her flair for fashion, her hard work in reading, her juicy hugs, and her natural visual beauty inside and out).
Check your attitude.
How you view make-up and beauty and in what contexts you wear make-up, how you talk about your body, and what you say to your children about their body, their looks, their appearance all affects your children. The comments a parent verbalizes about others in and outside of the family unit impacts your children’s perspective as well.
Your children spend most of their free time watching TV/videos on their Ipad and you notice themes of who likes who, kissing & scantily clad girls/guys is mainly what is being viewed. You know it is too often but you are at a loss for what to do about it.
ANSWER & PARENTING TIP #4:
Certainly you can set limits and create a guideline for how often your children use technology as their form of entertainment. Also, as parents it is up to you to determine if certain shows/videos are off limits. This is the standard/typical response to this question which is helpful, somewhat, sometimes, but not enough. Let us take it a step further.
As parents you must make time often for wholesome family activities.
The family influence is strong and significant. Make the time and play with your kids in quality and quantity, have a relationship with them (e.g., family game night, fishing on the lake after school instead of TV, shoot hoops in the front of the house with your kids using the basketball hoop, paint together). Too often the TV, Ipad, . . . is in substitution for family fun time as parents are so busy. Take the time and make the time not just on vacations or the weekend to be with your children.