Parenting For Dummies

Maggie Hamilton is a teacher who gives regular lectures and puts on workshops throughout Australia and New Zealand and who has just spent two years speaking to thousands of parents about their children, and teachers about the children they see everyday. Her findings are terrifying, to the point that I’d be slapping half of these parents and taking their children into care if I’d done the research. The recent research she’s been doing is for her latest book – What’s Happening To Our Girls? Too Much, Too Soon, How Our Kids Are Overstimulated, Oversold And Oversexed. Catchy title (the sequel, What’s Happening To Our Boys? is due out in 2010) eh? The book looks at how society has changed what it means to be a young girl, something I think my mainly female readership may find interesting. Although the book uses Australian girls as it’s research basis, enough similarities exist to make this relevant reading for all parents.

The Problem
The book describes a new set of milestones that young girls are experiencing now, things they expect to be able to do when they reach a certain age and trends to things that they are doing. It’s not for the faint hearted.

  • 3-5 year old girls want to go to kindergarten and preschool with painted nails and wearing lip gloss. They expect to be able to wear bras tailored specifically for their age group.
  • 6-7 year old girl are accessorising with handbags and jewellery. They see importance in wearing branded and designer clothes.
  • 8-9 year olds are spending money styling their hair and the majority have started dieting.
  • 10-11 year old girls are hosting birthday parties at beauty salons and getting their first Brazilian wax.
  • 13 year old girls have started sending sexual photos of themselves to boys (a different research paper I read recently pointed out that the majority in these circumstances are sending them to people they’ve “met” online and have no idea who they’re really talking to) and some are engaging in oral sex with their boyfriends.
  • 14 year olds girls have had up to twenty different sexual partners already.

Told you it was terrifying didn’t I? The fact is that steadily increasing pressure from advertising is pushing children into trying to grow up way to fast. And yet, they’re not the only ones to blame. Here’s something I’ve been aware of for years, something I’ve seen acting out as a vicious cycle. It’s the parents fault too. Well yes, that’s obvious in some cases – everything on that list of milestones and trends contributes towards the sexualisation of our children, after all. Beyond that I’m being a little harsh though aren’t I? After all, with advertising and other media forms constantly brainwashing our kids what chance do parents have these days. Quite a large chance actually and all you have to do is follow Furie’s Parenting Formula.

The Formula
I constantly hear people complain about the hardships they’ve faced growing up and how they’re going to give more freedom to their children. Others boast about how they’re not just a mother, they’re their daughter’s friend. Yeah, because a mid twenties girl wants to be friends with a six year old. At that age a child makes friends with anyone they see. They don’t need more friends, they need a parent. Kids are constantly gaining more freedom and education in things as technology progresses, yet these parents decide to give them even more freedom. Using this basic knowledge you can say that Freedom To Grow multiplied by Freedom Of Technology equals Boundaries. Now for some further information – children, being children, will always push until they find the boundaries they need to shape their characters. If the boundaries are wider then they will push further, acting out more as they attempt to find the line they aren’t allowed to cross. Combine that with the problematic influence of the media and you can get this part of the formula – Boundaries multiplied by Advertising equals Chance Of Problems. The final part of the formula is to realise that each time the Chance Of Problems increases you’re taking away from the well rounded individual that your child could be.

As you’ve probably already guessed by the formula, I’m getting sick to death of parents making life easier for their kids than they had it when the results of such treatment are plain to see for anyone. For one thing it’s a vicious cycle. Every time a parent widens the boundaries for their children they’re ensuring that the next generation widens them even further, until we get to the stage that children think they have to wear make-up before they can spell, diet at an early age, remove their pubic hair as soon as they get it and have sex before they can possibly be ready.

Another thing is that a parents job is to prepare their child for life, not make life easy for them so they’re totally unprepared for the world when they eventually leave home. Anything else is just child abuse, plain and simple.

Life Application
Didn’t follow all that maths? Not to worry, there’s a plain English version too. Set boundaries for your children and don’t let them cross those lines. Don’t go extending the lines you were given just because you didn’t get everything you wanted as a child. No child that gets everything they want ever turns out well so it was a good thing that you didn’t. Don’t try to be a friend to your child when it gets in the way of being a parent because they need a parent a damn sight more than another friend. Don’t use the television, PC or games console as a babysitter if you don’t know exactly what they’re doing on it at every second and don’t encourage their belief in the advertising just because other children your family knows have done so. And never ever allow your children to think they should be treated as sexual objects in order to be worth something to the world. In short, get off your arse and do some bloody parenting.


16 thoughts on “Parenting For Dummies

  1. Interesting post, with many good points in it. There is one thing I'd like to say something more about:Originally posted by Mik:

    14 year olds girls have had up to twenty different sexual partners already.

    I often hear that people say that kids are starting earlier and earlier with having sex, and I don't know how it is in other countries. But big surveys here show that it isn't the case. The average age where they have their first intercourse is somewhere between 16 and 17 years old and have been that for at least 30 years.Just a piece of information that many aren't aware of. :up:

  2. I'd say some of this is just general knowledge no?I wouldn't know the statistics that kids have intercourse but in Eastern Cape, South Africa 12 is about right as it's still a tribal custom to sell young girls as wives at that age.

  3. Parents in Serbia are facing similar, maybe even harder problems with their kids. After all the wars we had, society became poor and, believe it or not, at one point having a pair of new sneakers was a difference that could launch you up at the top of a circle of friends, making you a leader or a local hero. I have witnessed several times when kids were complaining that their parents bought them cheap clothes but not something 6 or 7 times more expensive (but unusual). And the worse part are played in media. Take a look what we have in our most popular TV and you will get the idea:

    This is why I would use a TV with parental control with certain stations locked. I know it is not enough but at least something parents could do.

  4. I think a lot of parents haven't really grown up enough themselves these days, and let their kids get away with more because it's less effort (in the short term). Too many want having a kid to make no difference to how they live their lives.

  5. Emancipation is dead, killed by Paris Hilton. Media are giving especially the girls a picture of their gender role that is by far more traditional than 30 years ago. Diaboligal: I read a review about South African teeners and sex. They start very young, following that research, and often forced by older kids, teachers etc. The author called rape quite normal for a big number of men. She did not split the results for race and income, so I cannot say anything about these points.

  6. Every time a parent widens the boundaries for their children they're ensuring that the next generation widens them even further …

    if there are no boundaries there's no place where you can feel safe any more … the saddest thing of all is that these generations are growing up without knowing any thing … they don't no themselves, they don't know others, they don't no how to have fun, to live, to love … mostly a sentence by a German teenager nowadays starts with "I don't know … uhm … "

  7. Furie, don't know if you realize it or not, but the guidelines you posted for parenting are exactly what the Christian Bible teaches. This is the way most children were once raised and they, in general, turned out to be good, solid citizens. I saw the result of bad parenting every day of my working life the last years I worked. Children are given very little discipline. They are allowed to do as they please—no boundaries except when inconveniencing the parents. And they grow up with no respect for authority of any kind, no respect for other people, and no respect for themselves. And these are the people who will be in power in the near future. Scary.

  8. They're bound to have some good ideas sometimes, although the problem with any plan is that the plan is only as good as the people following it.The thing with a religious upbringing is that, like the television and computers that are used as babysitters now, people used God as a babysitter back then. Kids grew up afraid of going to hell so that fear was what gave them boundaries by keeping them repressed. It allowed many of these god fearing people to take advantage of children in ways that the Bible definitely doesn't approve of (unless you count the end of the story about Lot and his daughters) and tell them that they need to honour their father and mother by not telling on them. Then you've got those who misunderstood the words in the Bible (again the story of Lot has convinced many that homosexuality is evil and against God when the actual meaning of the story is that rape is evil) or twist them to their own needs and prejudices, and teach their children not to be who they are, or punish them severely for being "dirty".Like I said, a plan is only as good as the people that carry it out, and some of the people in this world are fucking evil, no matter how good they pretend to be when the neighbours come calling.

  9. You are right that some people are just evil, and will misuse and abuse any rule to bend it the way they want it to go. As is the case in many of these kidnappings and retrievals years later of women that have been so much in the press recently. There will always be evil in the world. Don't agree with you about the raising of children using Biblical guidelines. All of my family were raised in this way and we have all turned out pretty stable (don't shake your head)But we can agree to disagree. Not trying to force my beliefs on anyone, but common sense and Biblical guidelines agree.

Have Your Say:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s