Ok, ok…I realize it’s probably super annoying when someone who DOESN’T HAVE KIDS writes about parenting. Sorry. It’s gonna happen here. I do at least work with kids almost every day, and I can usually tell when parents are actually doing their job… or just leaving it up to people like me, the baseball coach, and the second grade teacher. It breaks my heart to see precious kids who are confused because they don’t know their boundaries. Kids NEED realistic, clearly communicated boundaries. It makes them feel safe. Kids NEED encouragement. They need to hear their parents speak well of them, not apologize for them or label them. Kids NEED discipline. The kind that gently says, “I love you too much to let you get away with that kind of behavior.” Kids need parents to tell them and SHOW them that they don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Kids need parents who follow through.
There’s a free parenting magazine that gets sent to my studio. I picked it up this morning to read it for the first time.
The first article I read was something like “How to get your son a Justin Bieber haircut at the salon without mentioning Justin Bieber.” Awwwww. How cute.
Then, I flipped to an article called “Sexy Too Soon?” This appeared to have potential. The article did a good job outlining the problem. But the solutions? Not so much. It contained questions like “How do I talk to my 11 and 9 year old about the sexually explicit lyrics they sing along with on the radio?” My answer: SHUT THE RADIO OFF, get them some good musical alternatives, and talk about why the lyrics are wrong. Magazine expert’s answer: “Start with an open-ended, positive question like ‘Why do you like this music?’ Then mention your objections. You can say, ‘I don’t like the way the singer talks about women.'” I anticipate that the average kid’s response would be something like, “Ooookay. Mom doesn’t like it. She doesn’t really like the fact that my room’s a mess either. Whatever.”
How about this dilemma? “My 10-year-old son feels pressure to ask girls on dates, but I know he’s not ready yet.” My answer: Bahahahaha… not ready yet? Not like for 10 more years! He doesn’t even clean out his hamster cage regularly and he still pulls his sister’s hair. Does he have a JOB? Does he have a CAR? Does he need more sexual tension in his life right now? NO. Say to him, “My son, let’s have a good laugh (privately) at the other unfortunate kids who don’t have anything else to do in life besides date. How ridiculous. Now go build something with your legos.” Magazine expert’s answer: “Ask your son why he feels that way and what he really wants to do, then let him know how you feel about dating at a young age. […] Say, ‘It sounds like you feel you should do this, but it might not be the best choice for you. Your dad and I can help you decide.'” That’s good I suppose. Every kid wants to spend 2 hours at age 10 talking about whether he’s mature enough to date or not. Really?
But, I guess I should commend the magazine for trying. At least they’re addressing the issue of over-sexualization of children in our culture and encouraging parents to spend time with their kids doing positive things together. Like… belly dancing. In the next article titled “Love Handle Lockdown,” one mom relates her exercise experience in belly dance class. “I was a little intimidated, but once I got the hang of it, it was such a blast! My twelve-year-old daughter joined me, and the two of us giggled as we shook our bottoms.” uhhhhhhhh. Apparently not the same mom who was concerned about her daughter’s midriff baring soccer team friends in the previous article.
Thanks for the entertainment and enlightenment, parenting magazine. Now I know why kids are so confused. Their parents are confused. And you’re not helping them with your psychobabblemushbrainloveydovey advice.
Dear parents, please BE PARENTS, not negotiators. Your kids will thank you.