Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Are our kids growing up too fast?

Not known for prudishness, Newsweek has an article asking this question. The article is from a book called So Sexy So Soon that confirms what we know, media images and marketing campaigns encourage youth to be "sexy ". As a father of three girls, age 14, 5 and 2, this topic is close to my parental heart.

I was reminded of this issue this past week when Stacey was telling me how difficult it is to find a bathing suit or tank top for our oldest daughter that isn't too revealing. It seems that there is a push for our kids to reveal more at earlier ages. Are these designers and retailers with an agenda or are they merely reflecting the trends and desires of the mainstream? While we could debate this one with some serious Christian zeal, the better questions are "how do we protect and teach our kids about these issues?"

After much prayer, Stacey and made the decision to send our children to public schools. And while I am told that there is just as much temptation for private schooled and home schooled children, I know that our girls will come face-to-face with values that contradict ours. Here are a couple of things that we have decided to do to help along this journey. Obviously many of these apply to our oldest, but we are establishing the same guidelines for all of our girls.

  1. We are very aware of what our kids read, watch, listen to etc. This is a delicate balancing act of protecting some privacy while being aware.
  2. When they go to someone else's house, to the best of our ability, we will meet the parents first.
  3. Stacey is an active partipant in the shopping decisions. And yes, she enjoys this.
  4. We leave the channels wide open. If one of our children asks about something, we will talk about it. No topic is off limits. We don't avoid it or say "we'll talk about that when you are older." This pause might let the imagination run free. We want to shape the thought before curiosity take over and want our children too know that the home is the safe place to talk about it. We work had at not reacting when we here something come out of their mouths. In the Newsweek article, they talk about asking more questions before responding. Children may say the word "sex" but they really mean "kissing". So don't boldly go where you haven't before until you know you need to.
  5. We try our best in our words to reinforce that sex is a good thing- IN MARRIAGE. This reinforces that we take our cues from God and that his word says that sex is reserved for marriage. Some friends of ours who are not people of faith have already given up on the idea that there kids will not have sex before marriage and they were surprised that we thought that our kids could show restraint. I don't want to ever give up on trusting our children to choose the right path and the Holy Spirit to give them wisdom at the moment of decision.
  6. We learn from other parents who have been here already.
  7. We pray and pray and pray some more.
We are still learning, still growing in this area. Our children are too valuable and the price is to high for us to not take this seriously.