The Youth of the Nation

Ah, to be blogging again. It’s been a busy week.

My daughter who will be 5 in July, if she lives that long, had a series of discussions lately, the first of which was with her Grandma. It went like this:

Daughter: “Gram-ma? When you started dating Gram-pa, did you tell your mommy and daddy?” 
Gram-ma: “Yes, of course! Why?”
Daughter: “Cause I want a boyfriend! I want a hot boyfriend who is cool!”

She then had a similar discussion with her mother.

The discussion with me went a little bit different…

Daughter: “Daddy, maybe someday like, when I’m 16, I will have a boyfriend!”
Me: “Not if it’s as important to you then as it is now!”
Daughter, (Trying to get me to believe she was kidding): “Nope! I’m not dating anyone, and I’m never getting married!”

Now… Obviously, I hope someday she gets married if that’s what she wants, but only because it’s the right thing to do for her at that time…

But where is she getting these ideas from? She goes to pre-school, for Pete’s sake!

Gram-ma works in a school with a Kindergarten, and she said that the kids are all talking about “this person is dating that person, this person broke up with that person, etc…” She said they talk more about that sort of thing than anything else, school work included! I find this disturbing.

So what are they watching on TV?
We had an incident where my daughter called someone an idiot. Actually, she told a family member “Mommy said you’re an idiot” which never happened, by the way… and then said she learned it from Spongebob. I believe it. She got Spongebob taken away from her for about a month after that. We explained how it’s hurtful and could cause problems etc… She seemed to get it, and has not done it again. She often talks about how bad Squidward is, and how she doesn’t ever want to be like him, cause he’s mean.

Mission accomplished. (for now anyway).

But the dating… That’s not coming from spongebob, but it may be from shows she watches… Perhaps They’re a show for a slightly older audience, but I don’t think it’s something you can really regulate… I mean, I could ban her from watching it, put parental controls on cable, etc… But there are kids in her class with the characters on backpacks, clothing, etc… She’s GOING to be exposed to it somewhere, and there’s little to nothing that I can do about it, short of leading an angry mob or something…

I think parents are shirking their duties by demanding stricter media and censorship to shelter their kids. You don’t put a nationwide ban on donuts cause you’ve gained a few pounds. You don’t ban cars cause someone had an accident.

Personally, I’d rather my children be exposed to these sorts of things, like the idea of dating, and “bad words”, and be educated on how to feel about these things and how to respond to them, rather than not know they exist until it shows up and bites them on the backside. THIS is our job, parents! One day, you’ll have to let go, and when you do, would you rather say to yourself “I think they’re ready for whatever the world might throw at them” or “There’s so much they are not even aware of!”?

An important point, I think all our little “Princesses” need to be made aware that, contrary to the Disney movies they cherish and emulate, 16 is NOT by a long shot an acceptable age to get married.

Now… Those of you who have boys, you make sure they’re well educated. Be sure to throw in some facts on the subject of dating like “You make Ashley cry, and her dad will make you cry”. Only then will you have done a good job.


3 thoughts on “The Youth of the Nation

  1. My son fell in love when he was four, I fear us mammals are programmed that way. Today I had a serious talk with him (he is eighteen). He’s been dating a lovely girl who is obviously crazy about him for several months now. He is also due to leave our island for university this year. It was a tough talk. I considered laying down the law, banning them from ever, ever having sex (yeah, that should do it, eh?). Instead, I asked him if he was in love with her. He told me no. Then, God forgive me, I advised him whether she assures him she is on the pill or not, to make damn certain he uses protection, otherwise three lives could well be wrecked. Sigh..

  2. It’s a complicated problem, although I think you’ve mostly got it right. Yes, it’s a parent’s job to educate, as well as to regulate, as much as possible, what they see, hear, etc., but there are so many more ways for them to see and hear these days than there used to be. Very tough, and I don’t envy you or any other parents.

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