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Are children growing up too quickly?

Poll Results: Do you feel children are being exposed to adult concepts, such as relationships and sex, far too young?

 
  • 62% (30)
    Yes
  • 35% (17)
    No
  • 2% (1)
    Haven't Thought Much About It
48 Total Votes  
post #1 of 85
Thread Starter 

I am a 19-year old college student. I am writing a college research paper on how quickly children are being exposed to very adult concepts. I felt as though a website with real mothers would give me the most insight for my essay. I have not given birth to any children nor have I adopted any.

 

That being said, I help my mother-in-law take care of three children, ages 8, 12, and 13 (my husband and I are more or less responsible for raising them, she just does the financial part and we do the rest). I have noticed that they all know an awful lot about boyfriends, girlfriends, drugs, alcohol, and sex. I've also noticed that the eight year old wears some of the least appropriate clothes I've ever seen... low cut tops, reallllly short shorts, tight jeans that expose a lot, shirts that come half way down her stomach... I feel the things that they have been exposed to are incredibly inappropriate, especially with as young as they are. Music does little to help this, with songs like "S&M" by Rihanna and "Last Friday Night" by Katy Perry (lyrics include the chorus: "Cause I may be bad but I'm perfectly good at it. Sex in the air I don't care I love the smell of it. Sticks and stones may break my bones by chains and whips excite me" as well as "There's a stranger in my bed, there's a pounding in my head. Glitter all over the room, pink flamingos in the pool. I smell like a minibar. DJ's passed out in the yard.") These songs are not only played constantly on the radio, but the radio station is played by the bus driver who drives children from kindergarten to eighth grade home from school. It's hard to monitor what they take in with everything around them being so sexual and inappropriate.

 

Whatever happened to little girls playing with dolls and little boys playing with army men? Children shouldn't be interested in relationships or dressing "sexy". Does anyone else notice things like this or am I alone here?

post #2 of 85
You are not alone. Protecting our children's innocence until an appropriate age is a reason many of us homeschool. Among other reasons of course.
post #3 of 85

I do agree that kids are "sexualized" at a young age.  But is this really much worse today than in the last few generations?  I grew up with Madonna.  Her song "Justify My Love" came out when I was in Jr. High and I remember kids singing the words at school and discussing the music video (which wasn't even aired, if I remember right, because it wasn't appropriate for TV).  Yet kids knew about it.  You could take this back each generation back to the sexual revolution of the 60's.  If anything, kids are more responsible today than they were then, because "free love" is no longer a popular idea and people are familiar with birth control.

post #4 of 85

just coz you are exposed to it, doesnt mean kids comprehend it. 

 

i hear 5 year olds happily singing the lyrics with no idea what the lyrics are or what they mean. some mishear and sing HILARIOUS songs. 

 

marketing is trying to find new markets and thus sexualising. 

 

i think in the early what 1900s we started seperating adult and kid issues. otherwise kids were right in with the adults. 

 

kids are exposed to many things - but its their parents attitude that defines how the child will handle the issue. 

 

i hear sexualising and clothes. that never touches me coz i dont buy new clothes. just coz it is there (like the recent thin doll controversy) doesnt mean you need to consume.

 

many kids know about sex even before they enter K. i was one of them and so was my dd. i think in many parts of the world where family quarters are one room, many kids know much more. 

 

relationships? crushes. boyfriends and girlfriends. no big deal for me. for some they are completely oblivious to this. while others are into it at preschool. again i dont find that a problem. 

 

what i do dislike is how stressful our kids lives have become. their access to good old fun outside is so so so limited. i think we are losing knowledge of how to play. its all about academics. 

post #5 of 85

In Western culture, children reach adulthood around age 27. Compared to other cultures, then, western culture children are the slowest, not the fastest, to grow up. (Just in case you're interested, the delay in adulthood in western culture, particularly the United States, is related to children still needing their parents (both economically and psychologically) well into their 20's, the dramatic growth in higher education, the delay of marriage, the expectation of an unstable career, parents to extending support well into their children’s twenties. But doesn't it make sense that as life expectancies increase, the length of childhood increases? Anyway.

 

But I think your questions are not about growing up. I think what you mean to ask is: "Are Western cuitured children being exposed to sexual content at an earlier age?" and "Is being exposed to sexual content a harmful thing for children?"

 

I think the answers might be 1. No, except for a brief (comparatively) excursion into Victorian values which continues in our country even today, children have always been "exposed" to sexual content early, even from birth. In many cultures parents have intercourse in the family bed with the children present and no one thinks anything of it. Its a learning experience that probably benefits them.

 

2. I don't know if its particularly harmful to children. Western culture's fear and shame resulting in its bizarre fascination and elevation of sex is harmful to everyone, really, not just children. Probably our reactions of "oh god don't let the children see that!" cause more problems than the "that" would. Maybe.

post #6 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by beaandbunny05 View Post

 

Whatever happened to little girls playing with dolls and little boys playing with army men? 

 

 

My first thought is that it's also harmful for children to be confined to gender-stereotyped toys and play.

 

So if you think a return to little girls playing with dolls and little boys playing with army men is preferable, I disagree. 

post #7 of 85

I don't think kids are being introduced to the concepts earlier, I think the problem is that more parents are trying to keep their kid ignorant longer, and as a result the children's first introduction to these complex concepts is happening on the school yard, or through media, and their first impressions are therefore far less realistic or healthy than if their parents had been open and honest about the subjects from a young age.
 

post #8 of 85
Thread Starter 

I wasn't trying to gender-stereotype.. I meant. whatever happened to children playing with toys and simple things, and turning to sex and relationships?

post #9 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie View Post

In Western culture, children reach adulthood around age 27. Compared to other cultures, then, western culture children are the slowest, not the fastest, to grow up. (Just in case you're interested, the delay in adulthood in western culture, particularly the United States, is related to children still needing their parents (both economically and psychologically) well into their 20's, the dramatic growth in higher education, the delay of marriage, the expectation of an unstable career, parents to extending support well into their children’s twenties. But doesn't it make sense that as life expectancies increase, the length of childhood increases? Anyway.

 

But I think your questions are not about growing up. I think what you mean to ask is: "Are Western cuitured children being exposed to sexual content at an earlier age?" and "Is being exposed to sexual content a harmful thing for children?"

 

I think the answers might be 1. No, except for a brief (comparatively) excursion into Victorian values which continues in our country even today, children have always been "exposed" to sexual content early, even from birth. In many cultures parents have intercourse in the family bed with the children present and no one thinks anything of it. Its a learning experience that probably benefits them.

 

2. I don't know if its particularly harmful to children. Western culture's fear and shame resulting in its bizarre fascination and elevation of sex is harmful to everyone, really, not just children. Probably our reactions of "oh god don't let the children see that!" cause more problems than the "that" would. Maybe.

 

I vehemently agree with everything about this post.

 

I'm also against keeping children ignorant of sex any longer than absolutely necessary.

post #10 of 85
I think it's multifaceted. Right now I would like nothing more than for my almost 19 year old the grow the hell up. I am tired of her being the poor little girl:-(. On the other hand lately when we have gone to the movies, nothing under PG - 13, the theaters have been filled with young kids 3-10ish. Many of the movies have vastly inappropriate (to me) subject matter.
post #11 of 85
I think kids are growing up at a slower rate than my peers and I did. The songs are a little more blatant but my dd and her peers are still doll playing, fantasy loving children acting like children, even with earlier puberty being a reality for many of them. This is definitely not what my peers and I remember from my childhood and I am happy to see them staying kids and having fun even with the influences you mentioned.
post #12 of 85

I think it's both, in some ways we infantilize children and in other ways, like sexualizing, we are making them grow up too fast.

post #13 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by treegardner View Post

I think it's both, in some ways we infantilize children and in other ways, like sexualizing, we are making them grow up too fast.

I agree... I think we baby kids now WAY, way beyond what's necessary.  But, I also think taking a four year old to an R rated movie is irresponsible.  

post #14 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by nextcommercial View Post

But, I also think taking a four year old to an R rated movie is irresponsible.  

it would be interesting to know why they take their 4 year old to an R rated movie. is it because they have no place to leave their child? i mean people are smart. there must be some reason why they are forced to take their 4 year old to such a movie. for us who have other choices it might seem irresponsible, but i wonder if we hear the reasons if we will still find their reason irresponsible. 

 

esp. in families today where age gap between children might be huge due to failed and new relationships. 

post #15 of 85

The 12 and 13 year old SHOULD know about things like boyfriends/girlfriends, sex, alcohol, and drugs.

 

If parents aren't talking about these things to their kids at this age, they will completely miss the opportunity to do so.

 

A 13 year old is a teenager, not a child, and a 12 year old nearly so.

 

I think that how these subjects are handled and what we say to our children/teens is the more important part. Pop culture is not a good teacher. Parents are.

post #16 of 85

My kids are still young (around 5) but I cannot comprehend letting DD wear "sexy" clothes or buy Bratz dolls to play with.  I don't even like the new "kids'" shows because they show stupid parents and the kids are always fixated on looks and dates and just whatever.  I did watch a lot of TV as a kid and it didn't really affect me but... I dunno, I'm just not comfortable with it for my kids.  That's a reason we're TV-free.  We have lots of DVD's that I think are age appropriate.  We also homeschool because I don't want them to grow up too quickly (plus I think we can give them a better, broader, real-world education than the school can).

 

OTOH I don't believe in coddling them, either.  They both already are expected to contribute to the running of the household.  No, we're not farmers and it's not a necessity, but every day we do chores together.  Some people have expressed the opinion that kids shouldn't be expected to do chores etc so young.  I don't believe it.

 

Music-wise, I too am kind of horrified at a lot of songs, but we do listen to some in the car sometimes, and both kids have radios in their rooms that they may listen to as long as it's music, not talk show type stuff. Generally they choose their CD's of children's stories or nursery rhymes, but DD likes country music for some reason.  I don't really care what they listen to; they know better than to repeat back bad words.  I did draw the line at the rap music DH liked to listen to in the car - it was too aggressive overall imo, plus it's just, I dunno, ugh.  (Hip-hop OTOH which "sounds" catchier... we do sometimes listen to, even if the content isn't MUCH better...)  DH has the mouth of a sailor and I tend to use "bad words" sometimes as well (not aggressively) but for some unknown reason both kids have picked up that they're bad words and don't use them.  They don't know the ins and outs of sex (uh... sorry, that was a really bad UNintended pun!!) but they have a vague idea.  And we stress that that's how babies are made and our morals include marriage etc.  (Not like either DH and I were virgins when we married... far from it, but that's still the message we're passing to the kids.)  If an adult topic comes up - such as drugs etc - we don't shove it under the rug but we talk about it with the kids in what I hope is an age appropriate manner for them to understand.

 

Speaking of which, I find it so weird that DH and I getting married at 23 and starting our family then, buying a house, etc., was more of an exception than the rule.  DH had been in the Army for a while by then as well, and although I had lived at home previously except for two years during college, so it wasn't weird to us.  My parents were well-off and did give us some financial help for a couple of years but it wasn't like we absolutely *needed* it.  It's only been in the last couple of years that our peers have been getting married, a couple have had a baby or two (still very young ones) but about half of our peers are still unmarried, etc.  And we're 30 now.  Geesh. 

post #17 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

it would be interesting to know why they take their 4 year old to an R rated movie. is it because they have no place to leave their child? i mean people are smart. there must be some reason why they are forced to take their 4 year old to such a movie. for us who have other choices it might seem irresponsible, but i wonder if we hear the reasons if we will still find their reason irresponsible. 

 

esp. in families today where age gap between children might be huge due to failed and new relationships. 

 In what universe are parents "forced" to go to an R rated movie, whether or not they bring their child?

post #18 of 85
Thread Starter 

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dDR1cVZwMjVDUDFtVEhRcDhIRUVJSGc6MQ

 

If people wouldn't mind, it would really help me if you'd take my survey about the loss of virginity. The answers will remain completely anonymous. I'm trying to compare the ages children lose their virginity in this generation to generations of the past. It's only 4 questions long.

post #19 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post

 In what universe are parents "forced" to go to an R rated movie, whether or not they bring their child?

this universe actually - the reason why many theaters have actually banned children under 6 in R rated movies (the distraction factor to the people watching the movie) and others actually charge adult prices for any child brought into the theater. 

 

so yeah it does happen. 

 

it is cheaper to pay ten bucks and take your 4 year old to the movie that she wont even care about but instead will play with her legos you bring along while her older brother watches the R rated movie; than to pay 20 to 30 bucks which you might not have to pay the babysitter.  

post #20 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post

 In what universe are parents "forced" to go to an R rated movie, whether or not they bring their child?

Right.  Just don't go see an R rated movie.  I never got a babystitter for my child...but, we went to child appropriate movies instead.    I didn't see an R rated movie in the theater until she was old enough to stay home alone.  I learned to love and enjoy movies that were meant for young kids.  

 

*sidenote... I was in a theater recently where the adults brought young preschoolers with them.   Two of the kids had lightup shoes.  WHY would you  bring kids to an adult movie wearing light up shoes?  The movie was "End of Watch" which was very violent.  But, with LIGHT UP SHOES?

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