Just last night, Beth (Social Climbers) and I were competing with each other on Facebook to see who was the "worst" mom with the "worst" vignettes from our children. It was getting rather late in the evening and I was laughing so hard at the things that came out of both of our sets of boys' mouths. They were pretty hysterical - even if they were bad. But then I thought again about one I wrote.
Before you read, I am asking that you not judge me or my children for what I am about to write. My boys are my life. They make me laugh. They give the dearest hugs. They are polite and respectful; good sports and compassionate towards others.
And my youngest (a second grader) also shared something with my mother this past weekend that is haunting to me...
After the boys came home from a weekend visit with my parents, my mother called me this past Sunday to tell me what my 8-year-old had told her: he has a girlfriend and he thinks she wants to "make out" with him. He told her this with all seriousness. My wise mother did not get visibly upset, but asked him why he would say this and what "make out" means. He told her that "making out" is what boyfriends and girlfriends do. It's what you do if you like someone. And "making out" is kissing. (Thank goodness!)
Oh the sleepless night I had... How on Earth does he know what "making out" is? My sweet boy whom you have seen pictures of and whom I have written precious blog posts about.
I know how. And you should know too.
You see, I have heard things from the TV as I have passed through the living room while Sumter and Jackson were watching I-Carly or Suite Life on Deck or Hannah Montana. The one time I heard the "make out" term on I-Carly, I turned the television off and suggested the boys go play outside. No big production. But how many other times had those shows made suggestive comments when I wasn't around the TV? How much have they heard? And how much have they unknowingly absorbed?
I have always hated Disney and Nick for the shows they produce for OUR ELEMENTARY AGE CHILDREN. I have felt the tween characters were always disrespectful to adults and parental figures. They are rude and belittling to each other, and always have some smart-a$$ comment to say for a laugh. But I have not been vigilant enough... I have let it slide a bit and let Sumter and Jackson watch.
BUT NOW, my eyes are even more open: these companies are sexualizing my (AND YOUR) children. Think back to the sitcoms geared towards children/tweens when we were young: The Cosby Show, Growing Pains, Facts of Life. Now compare them to the shows that are geared towards our children. Look at the clothing the girls are wearing. Listen to the "innocent-enough" suggestive comments and see the looks the boys are giving. Frightening isn't it?
In response to this realization and sick feeling we have about it, Mike and I have made a decision that is not very popular in our boys' eyes: We have blocked Disney and Nick. It's not there - not even on the Guide. I am not having it seduce my boys. As young males in our society, they have enough going against them already.
I am not telling you what to do... only what we have decided. (And please do not think that we are naive enough to think that our children will not pick this stuff up in school - no matter private or public.) What I hope I have left you with is an understanding of what really is going on out there - in our own living rooms and on our own television sets. It is my plea that you protect your children... in whatever way you see fit.