I think kids should be kids with innocence intact as long as possible. I see a lot of my 7-year old daughter's friends who are growing up pretty fast. I think that danger is more pronounced with girls because their appearance is more alterable than boys. (Boys don't have as many possibilities to be immodest, wear earrings, makeup, etc.) Don't get me wrong--I love makeup and earrings, but I prefer to hold back on those rites of passage until our girls turn 12-ish. Another way kids grow up too fast is too much access to media. The kids spend too much time on computers or watching t.v./movies and cell phones. Specifically,the types of shows the kids watch escalate their tolerance for tween styles, language and behavior. Call me prudish, but I can't stand Hannah Montana or iCarly-type shows for little girls. First of all, these shows are marketed for the tween age, not early elementary age girls. The talk of juggling her career with her social life/boys, etc. is a threat to the innocence of young girls, but not if it's age appropriate. However, one other point that was made by one of our Stake Primary leaders, that I hadn't thought of concerning the Hannah Montana rage, is that this show, along with several other Disney channel shows, normalizes single parent homes. Unfortunately, that's the problem. It is becoming common to have single parent homes, and those parents do their best, but it should never be normalized. I don't like Hannah Montana's immodesty either. There are so many subtle messages that shows teach. I think that as parents, one of the greatest challenges we have raising this generation, is to filter what they watch, whether it's on the internet or in the home. One of the greatest detriments, I feel, is too much access to all this technology. I don't know that we're perfect in this area either, but we talk a lot about it and we try to set reasonable boundaries.
Research has found that "nearly 70% of young children have TVs in their bedrooms today; 49% have video game systems in their bedrooms; 46% have VCR' 37% have DVD players; 35% have cable or satellite service and 24% have PCs with 18% hooked up to the internet in their bedrooms." (Nickelodeon Survey, Associated Press, Nov. 20, 2005).
It seems very strange to me that we place deadbolt locks on our doors to prevent questionable people from entering our sacred homes and then we turn around and invite the same type of people in through television programming. As Michael Rudinski said, "The thing about young people is when they see things in the mass media and they think it's going on, they start doing it." (Washington Post, June 20, 2005). Not only can too much television produce negative consequences, it can also prevent positive behavior. Bottom line: not everything on Disney or Nickelodeon can or should be viewed as positive for our children.
We were doing some serious budget trimming a couple of years ago, and the first luxury to go was the cable. I was really reluctant to let go of my dvr...really reluctant to let go of some of the shows I liked, but you know what? I can honestly say we don't miss the cable at all. The kids can watch PBS and we still get our Jack Bauer fix. And we watch a whole lot of movies:) Bottom line:
society will push kids to grow up too quickly all by itself. Whatever we can externally cut out of that process, the better.
In case my thoughts and opinions haven't screamed 'prudish' yet, this one probably will: We don't do sleepovers except in case of emergencies. Why? Three reasons:
3)same gender attraction experimentation
Let me first mention that growing up, I slept over at friends houses and had a blast. Heck, some of our best toilet-papering triumphs were a result of the late night sneak-outs with friends from our sleeping bags... but this is a different era. And frankly, it frightens us. As with predators, there are seemingly good, high-functioning homes where there is a family member with these issues. We found this out too late, as our neighbor across the street, in our LDS ward, had a son who was a pedophile growing up. It happens all around us. With porn, my brother and my husband both were exposed to porn magazines at LDS friends' sleepovers, unbeknownst to their families to this day. Imagine today all it would take for The Perfect Storm to get set in motion: parents go to bed, all the kids are in their designated sleeping arrangements, and the kids turn on the computer monitor. Whether looking for it or not, a few silent clicks away, some porn sites are accessed and nobody left the house or made a sound. I'm not saying my kids can't find it on their own without being at a sleepover, but yes, I am saying that. There are filters today that make Alcatraz look like an ice cream shoppe. We also don't allow our kids to play at other homes where parents aren't home. So we are hoping to cut down the risks and chances of exposure by setting up these strict boundaries. As for number 3, I read an interesting article with some statistics a few years ago about homosexuals first homosexual experience. The men interviewed for this study (done by some Christian Foundation), overwhelmingly stated that their first sexual contact was at a sleepover with other boys their age, unintentionally experimenting. It was interesting to read and I hadn't ever thought of it as a possible threat.
Notice also what policies the Church has recently enforced that suggest they see potential dangers as well: the Scout program & primary with always 2 leaders of the same gender or a married couple for den leaders/teachers; youth sleep-overs (girls camp, scout camp, etc.) have to have youth sleeping separate from leaders; every meeting house in the Church, as far as I understand it, is to have classrooms with windows. Even the old buildings are having doors replaced if they don't meet this new standard.
Whew. That was a long post. Let me clarify the reason for these standards in our home: Because we felt impressed to do so for our family's needs. Maybe if you are reading this and you don't agree with some of these boundaries or our reasons for them, that's okay. That's the great thing about the Spirit: The Holy Ghost knows how to inspire our uniquely different families based on their circumstances. We don't judge others for having different standards; afterall, our parents growing up had entirely different standards for us. I'll leave this post with a wonderful quote:
"A successful parent is one who has loved, one who has sacrificed, and one who has cared for, taught, and ministered to the needs of a child. If you have done all of these, and your child is still wayward or troublesome, it could well be that you are, nevertheless, a successful parent. Perhaps there are children who have come into the world that would challenge any set of parents under any set of circumstances. Likewise, perhaps there are others who would bless the lives of, and be a joy to almost any father or mother." President Howard W. Hunter (Ensign, November 1983, p. 63)
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