The Last Word
In preparing for this Girls Today! issue, I did some reading on the subject of media and cultural influences on girls (and boys) and came away with a strong sense of the dilemmas today’s parents face in trying to raise children in the current environment.
There are many influences on kids, of course. And the interactions among genetics, the culture as reflected in media, school, peers, teachers, as well as parenting styles ultimately determine how much kids will find themselves swayed by negative images or, instead, hopefully, determine their own individual paths.
So, what choices do parents have in a world that many studies show is increasingly sexualized, commercialized and manipulative of ever younger children? For me, a primary task is to turn off the TV and computer for most of the day and evening. Find outdoor activities and groups (like Girls on the Run, Scouting, etc.) that foster a sense of strength, self-esteem and individuality.
My two school-age grandkids are involved in a group called TAASC which takes them on hiking and rock climbing trips (that’s my granddaughter on the cover!); teaches them water and wilderness safety and survival skills and basically keeps them involved in activities where resourcefulness and cooperation are both necessary.
They don’t have much time to worry about what new brands of clothes they “should” be wearing, or what the latest tween/teen idols are up to that they should mimic; If they even know them!
Parenting is never easy and with more single parent homes it is certainly difficult to monitor and manage their time in healthy ways. Yet, there are resources in every community that parents (and grandparents) can access.
These kids growing up today are the next generation who will run the future businesses and governments; it is imperative that we raise them to think critically, have inner strength and integrity. They are the ones who will improve and evolve the culture for the next generations… or not.
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