Thursday, April 14, 2011

Going Downhill?

I've had a few weeks to process a few thoughts I have had mulling about in my mind.  All of the stories and/or experiences have muddled together and put my brain in overload.

  • There is this story, about padded bikinis for young girls sold by a popular clothing store.  
  • An interaction I watched a month or so ago while getting a pedicure.
  • Friend requests on Facebook 
  • Keeping 70+ children safe in a church building for the duration of church meetings
And more recently, an extremely well written and very thought provoking blog post by a friend yesterday,   about teaching our daughters about sexuality.

My wise younger brother has on more than one occasion discussed his dismay with the overall conclusion 'we' draw, that in essence says society is worse than it ever was, and that evil and demoralization are at all time highs.  He believes there is little that is 'worse' than any other time period.   I don't completely agree or disagree with him in his argument.  While I do not doubt his references to statistics and studies,  I believe there are a couple of big factors (and they are very closely intertwined) that have led to our current state of morality.  They are modern-day attitudes of complacency and fear and the instant stream of communication.

While sexuality, pornography, dishonesty, teen pregnancy rates, kidnappings, sexual abuse, etc., etc. may not be different statistically than generations ago, they are more accepted, more available, more heard about and more easily attained.  

Referring to the examples above that spurred all of these thoughts.

Selling padded bikini tops to young girls.  We are a far-cry from keeping things age appropriate.  We are sexualizing and placing important emphasis on appearances on our children (girls) way too young.   Now, I'm not one of those that thinks babies in jeans is inappropriate or a little nail polish on a toddler or little girls in dress-up high heels are akin to corruption.  But sure, ear-rings on a newborn, fake-nails on a seven-year-old, highlighted hair on a ten-year-old, and a first grade boy with ears-pierced seems extremely premature. (I've seen all of these things at local elementary schools!)  

Likewise, the not-even-three-year-old that sat next to me during a pedicure recently, left me being able to do little more than stare with my eyes and mouth wide open.  She was demanding a particular design and color on her toe.  She was demanding a fruit snack from her little purse.  All the while her mother saying, "Be careful _____, you're going to chip the polish on your fingernails."  

SHE'S TWO!!!!!!  TWO!! TWO!!  Shouldn't she be at home playing with baby dolls or sliding on a slide? And sure, maybe getting her nails painted by mom (or big sister!), but professionally?  

Call me old fashioned, call me whatever, but I think we are putting too many pressures of looks, style,  fashion and maintenance on children way too young.  Let them be kids.

Facebook.  Now, should I really even get started on Facebook?  It clearly states that you have to be thirteen years of age to set up an account.  Yet, I have received several friend requests of family members, neighbors and friends clearly not thirteen years old.  What message are we sending to our children?  I'm not even talking about the parents that approve it, I'm talking about the 'friends' that 'accept them'.  They are breaking rules.  They are at a personal risk for safety.  They are being dishonest.  They are lying.  Enough said.

Church Buildings.  I am continually amazed and beyond thankful, that more crimes do not happen in church buildings.  Not just because the buildings themselves are open to the public, but the congregations have very predictable schedules, patterns and behaviors.  With my responsibility to oversee 70+ Primary children each week, I take very seriously the need to impose guidelines and expectations for the children, instead of allowing them to roam the halls with no supervision.  Again, I know abuse, safety issues, kidnappings, etc. have been around for centuries and centuries, but we know too much nowadays about the consequences of such things to sit back and simply hope it doesn't happen.  

So much comes back to everyone being so concerned nowadays about offending people that we have begun to breed a general disrespect of modesty, honesty, integrity, safety and appropriateness.  It seems it is easier to stand by and say nothing than to open your mouth and take a stand for not accepting immoral, inappropriate or dishonest behaviors.  Now I'm certainly not saying, let's go back to the days of Scarlet Letters. Of course I'm not, but we sit around and let a young woman lead a meeting based on values of modesty, virtue and goodness, all the while wearing a dress that barely covers her thighs.  Or we 'friend' people on Facebook who we know should not have an account because we wouldn't want to hurt their feelings.  Or we ooh and aah over the cuteness of a little girl in a salon, or see nothing wrong with girls in padded bikinis, because heaven forbid, we wouldn't want to be seen as rude.  Second to that, we have an instant stream of communication that is available all day every day.  We have billboards, movies, commercials, music, radio, magazines, internet, text messaging, and the like at our immediate disposal everywhere and anywhere we go.  

Oh I have so much more to say, (surprise!) but I won't.  Because really, it ultimately all comes down to personal opinions and perceptions.  And of course we can legitimately argue that it all comes back to individuality.  Because reality is how I parent and how you parent are personal, individual and unique.  BUT, we are all part of the same society.  And unless we live in a bubble, we all rub shoulders and influence each other, good and bad.

Between our concerns of offending people, the complacent attitudes among us, and the exposure everywhere we turn, what really is there to do?

I certainly don't claim to have a solution.  


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