Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Kids should be kids

The other day I posted this:
"Children are shoved too quickly out of childhood in our day, and I want my kids to enjoy being children as long as they are, without being exposed to things they shouldn't be exposed to yet." (from this post)
• Yesterday, a friend asked for prayer for his friend's daughter. In summary, she's 13 and living like she's 25. What's more, she's 13 living like she's 25, as a worldly girl.

• Not long ago I read an article that explained why so many girls are entering puberty 2-3 years younger than the last generation did. In part, it apparently has to do with the pesticides used in foods that stimulates hormone production. I'm not sure this can be medically/scientifically proven, but that's what the article said.

• Last year on the cover of a Canadian magazine there was a picture of a pre-pubescent girl dressed like a prostitute, with the caption asking a question "Why are we dressing our little girls like prostitutes?" (or something along those lines, I forget the exact wording).

Fact of the matter is, whether we like it or not, little girls and little boys (but moreso with girls) are being catapulted into maturity faster than they can keep up. The end result is an abrupt end to childhood and several years of confusion and frustration (and in many cases, flat out rebellion) for both parent and child, while the kids try to figure out if they're kids or young adults. In short, it can be for many families, a brutal nightmare that feels so hopeless you just spend a lot of time in high-tension mode, prayer-mode and shed a lot of tears while on your knees seeking God's mercy and grace.

Little girls are especially susceptible since by nature girls are pleasers, and eager to blend in, rather than stand out. When little girls see images of girls their own age, dressed like worldly girls who are 5-10 years older than them, they begin to believe this is the norm, the standard, and the image they should be projecting themselves. And where do little girls see this? Television shows, commercials and movies, of course.

One of those commericals we've been seeing lately is for a cd called Mini Pop Kids. How much I hate this commercial cannot be defined by human language. You can watch part of it for yourself here. (Standard disclaimers apply while watching youtube videos, since the comments are often filled with vile language - and the 'related videos' are often quite raunchy as well)

Now that you've seen it, you may understand why I hate it so much. Obviously these kids have to learn the lyrics to these songs to be able to lip-sync along with them. The only way to learn a song is to sing it over and over again, with lyrics in hand until you know it. I don't know all the songs on this cd, but some of them I do. Here are some lyric snippets of a couple of the songs these kids are singing on this cd:

La Da Da Da Da
The smell of your skin lingers on me now
You're probably on your flight back to your home town
I need some shelter of my own protection baby
To be with myself and Center, Clarity
Peace, Serenity - Fergie's Big Girls Don't Cry
You're so fine
I want you mine
You're so delicious
I think about you all the time
You're so addictive
Don't you know what I can do to make you feel alright?
(feel alright, feel alright, feel alright)
Don't pretend I think you know I'm damn precious
And hell yeah I'm the motherf**kin' princess
I can tell you like me too and you know I'm right
(know I'm right, know I'm right, know I'm right) - Lavigne's Girlfriend

Now, I just picked two of the songs that are on the cd. Do these kids actually learn these lyrics and sing the full songs? I don't know, I haven't heard the cd (seeing the commercial is enough to make me want to go on a slapping rampage), so maybe they sing a condensed version. The thing is though, these are songs on the radio that they no doubt sing along to, and most likely these kids have the cds of the originals in their home collection, and DO know the lyrics to the full songs, and sing along with them. Isn't that nice?

Then, you've got some brain-dead adults come along and say "hey, here's an idea, let's take the biggest hits of today, full of sexual innuendo and raunchy language, and have 9-12 year old kids sing them for a cd!!" Perfect idea!! (and this is the FOURTH in a series, it's not the first MiniPop Kids cd to come out).

I know, I know... I'm over-reacting. I'm making more of an issue out of this than it really is. I'm an old prude and can't just let kids have fun. I know!

I also know that music is an incredibly powerful media influence. Educators know it, and use music to teach basics of phonics, math, and basic english grammar (remember SchoolHouse Rock? Yes, you most certainly do, conjuction-junction, what's your function). Music and puberty are a powerful combination during a time of raw emotions, a lot of confusion, and introspection that's going on. A lot of young people turn to music as a way to sort of connect and express themselves - and that's not a bad thing. It's the kind of music that kids are turning to, that can be the bad thing, and the worst possible influence.

Bottom line? Take a stand and be a parent. Dare to be uncool in favor of being the parent, and do all you can to see that the influences YOUR kids are under, are good ones. You can't control every influence, but you CAN control some of them. It's not a popular message, but it's the one that will benefit them the most.