Monday, July 25, 2011

Media and Parenting

I'm going to let you guys in on the secret, I'm old and I remember when MTV first debuted.  We had just gotten cable (didn't have the microwave yet) and I was forbidden from watching MTV because of the message it was sending.  This was back in the day when MTV was strictly music videos and didn't contain all the overtly sexual shows they do now.  Oh, how I long for the good old days that my mother had when raising me!

It's amazing, when my daughter and I have discussions about what she can and can't watch on TV I get deja vu.  I feel like I'm transported back in time and am having the same discussion but her argument is coming out of my lips!  I guess some things never change.

What has changed is that Pandora's box has been slowly opening over all these years and the knowledge can never be put back in.  We are now accepting things in society that were completely taboo 30 years ago.  As a conservative feminist I struggle with this a little, social change is good.  I'm thankful that I have the opportunities that are available by those that have come before but I'm saddened by some of the other things those struggles have brought.

As a mother I realize that I can't keep them completely hidden from the dangers of the world so I've picked a few topics that I discuss with my kids (even the 20 year old) on a very open basis.

  • The S word - Does anything strike fear in the heart of a mother more than talking sex with her children?  I have made it a point to be very matter of fact with my children since the day they found out what it was.  I've had very frank talks with both my son and daughter that the behavior seen on TV (jumping into bed on the first date) isn't appropriate and definitely not what I want for them.  We've talked about the emotions that go with a physical relationship as well as the dangers of disease and pregnancies.
  • Marriage - In today's disposable society it seems like the value of marriage is being tarnished.  The natural step is to live together before marriage and if it doesn't work out you just move on to the next person.  I worry that my kids see the marriage that my husband and I have now and compare their relationships to it.  Just like every marriage ours has had it's ups and downs, settling into a wonderful place right now.  By sharing some of the struggles that we had early on I hope to keep things in perspective for them.  A wonderful relationship is the reward for walking through the trenches, but I'm also not naive enough to believe that there won't be more trenches coming at some point.
  • Communication - How is the next generation every going to learn to communicate with all those gadgets?  Breaking up over Facebook or text seems to be acceptable.  The lack of face to face communication makes it so much easier to hurtful things in life.  We develop the filters that we do by going through those painful experiences.  How are our children going to grow up to be well adjusted, communicating adults?
I've noticed that most of my observations tend to be of a negative nature.  There are a couple of positives that I would like to address.

  • The ability to stay in touch - I was raised quite far away from my grandparents.  Kudos to my parents for establishing a strong relationship between me and my grandparents even with the miles in between.  With Skype, Facebook and all the other social media available; keeping in touch with family has never been easier.
  • Information- Back in the stone ages when I was in school we had a set of outdated encyclopedias as a reference tool.  Now, anything you need to know is available with just a few key strokes.  Finding the make-up of the Geranium atom at 5pm the day before it's due I'm sure is much easier now than when my mother was helping me with my homework!
How about you?  Where you allowed to watch MTV when it first came out or was I the only nerd?

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