Thursday, April 10, 2008

Our Daughters

I've been reading a new blog, Stuff Christians Like. If you haven't read it, you should check it out. Good stuff. Jon, the author, humorously writes about the quirks of being a Christian.

I wrote Jon the other day and said, "You know what? Christians like Hannah Montana.

Before I go on, let me say that I have never met Miley Cyrus and I am sure she is a lovely girl...

At age fifteen, she's been labeled the new "good role model" for girls. (That's a huge weight to carry on a young teen's shoulders.)

But this isn't really about Miley. It's about a trend in entertainment for children, young girls specifically.

Take a close look at the television shows for kids today. The only shows targeting young kids feature young boys, not girls, in the starring roles. Even then, the young boys are portrayed as "heartthrobs."

Excluding animation, the most highly marketed movies for young kids, especially young girls, feature teen characters. Granted, the movies are considered "clean," but the characters are teenagers. We see clothing, linens, accessories, toys and more featuring these teenaged characters.

Teenagers.

Why are teenagers the entertainment focus for elementary age kids? Why can't eight-year-old girls watch shows and movies about eight-year-old girls?

From that moment in the doctor's office when we discover we're expecting a girl, all we want to do is watch over her. After we get home with the sonogram, we read baby books, parenting magazines, and count the days until our little girl enters the world.

We fret over shots and ear infections. We worry about germs on the grocery cart.

We dress our baby girls in softly washed, cotton onesies from Baby Gap, teach them Spanish with Dora, and have tea with Cinderella.

All we want to do is protect her.

We make her wear a helmet when she rides her bike, buckle her up securely when she climbs in the van. We hold tightly to her tiny hand when she crosses the street; she looks up to us in wonder and security in the middle of a very frightening world.

Then one day, she changes. She's different, somehow.

We wonder, "When did she let go?"

The truth is that she never did.

Moms, we're letting the innocent, little fingers of our baby girls slip through our hands. In a world that is spinning out of control, we've got to hold them tight or they could be swept away.

So, what happens?

Sometimes outside influences permeate their impressionable Veggie Tales world. Sometimes they end up in the wrong crowd. But, what I am seeing from behind this laptop is a rapid progression of maturity from three-year-olds to thirteen-year-olds.

We need to let our little girls be little girls. Let them wear their princess pj's a little longer. Let them get their knees dirty. Let them dress up just to dress up. Let them have a boy friend and not label it "boyfriend." Let them be Little.

There are little girls acting like pop stars, pop stars acting like little girls, and young teens cutting, starving, hurting themselves and each other. There are six-year-old girls playing with dolls that look like street walkers and street walkers gaining fame from governors.

Young girls all over this country are cruising down a path of destruction and their mothers are driving them there in their minivans.

Moms, we've got to slow down.

Turn off the cell phone. Pull over the minivan. Turn around and take a look at the girl in the backseat. Is she growing up too fast?

To Miley Cyrus, I wish her the best success. I do. I hope she turns out differently, better than other teen idols who once danced in the same spotlight. And I pray that her own mom will hold her hand along the way. Tightly.

As for my own daughter having a role model, she already has one.

Me.

38 comments:

Rocks In My Dryer said...

*applauding wildly*

Michelle@Life with Three said...

You are so right about this. My daughter is in PreK 4. She's never seen Hannah Montana, but boy does she know who she is! Several of the girls in the class have seen it, wear shirts featuring it, bring stuff to show and tell highlighting it. They're 4 and 5 years old! It's crazy to me -- thanks for the reminder that we need to be our own children's best role models.

Jennifer said...

Well, New York junior-ette is one blessed gal I tell ya what. You're a momma that is to be admired. I'm reminded of something in Proverbs 31, "Her children rise up and call her blessed." That day is soon on the horizon for you. I found this inspiring (even though I have yet to become a momma). Inspiring...as always!

Chrissy said...

This is why I love your blog.

Roxanne said...

Yea!!!! Yea!!!!! Yea!!!!! There was just something on t.v. about High School Musical on Ice (hubby was watching the news), and our 9 year old slapped her forehead and said, "What next? They are taking over the world. If I HAD to choose between Hannah Montana and High School Musical, I guess I'd pick High School Musical, but PLEEZ don't make me pick."

We don't have cable. She won't ever have to pick. . .but she did get PICKED ON at school for being the only girl brave enough to show that she was excited when their science teacher showed a Magic Schoolbus episode she'd not seen before.

AND she likes her brother.

We are trying to throw up that hedge--not to keep her in a bubble (she attends public school) but to just let her be 9 until she's 10.

Roxanne said...

I wanted to clarify that she doesn't want to pick between them because she doesn't care to watch either. :)

On her own. Without any coersion from us.

Dana said...

Amen and amen! I am in the war to keep my sweet 12 year old daughter and 12 year old. So far, so good. She is sweet, innocent, but not clueless to what the world is trying to do to her. Kinda makes for a hard day at school for her though. Staying on my knees,
Dana

Prodigal Jon said...

As a dad of two daughters I need to read more things like this.

Thanks too for the site mention.
Jon

R.L.Scovens said...

This post was much needed! You are SO right! I have a 10 year old SON and he likes to watch Drake and Josh and Ned's Declassified, and one day I asked myself the same question: Why is he watching all of these shows with these teenagers? Where are the shows with 10 year olds, discussing 10 year old issues?!

We've gotta keep an eye on our kids and keep them uplifted in prayer. I'm divorced and so my son doesn't really have any male role models. But I know that my God is able and I put my son in his hands daily!

Linda said...

Good for you. Where are the Buffys and Jodies of today? Today, children would only see the cool teenaged sister, Cissy. (If readers don't recognize these names, nevermind. Sigh.)

chickadee said...

that's exactly how i feel and this christian mom is skeptical of any pop star, no matter how good she may be, staying on track.

and while there may be nothing wrong with her show, my 10 and 8 year old aren't allowed to watch because i don't want those teenage ideals in their heads right now. we've got plenty of time for that.

Chaotic Joy said...

I'm here from Shannon's place and this post was amazing. Thank you for writing it.

Karen said...

Standing up in the nosebleed section, applauding wildly and woohooing with all my might.

Grafted Branch@Restoring the Years said...

That was fan.tas.tic., Melanie!

My favorite line..."Young girls all over this country are cruising down a path of destruction and their mothers are driving them there in their minivans."

daddyontheroad said...

AMEN!!!!

The (Almost) Amazing Mammarino said...

Well said!!!!

Someone gave my child either a Bratz or Diva Starz doll wearing THONG underwear. It went promptly in the trash.

mizbear said...

I have a daughter. A real little girly girl. She's just turned 5 but already knows that Bratz are banned in our house. Her clothes are always pretty and fashionable, but they're also modest...frilly, ribbony, full skirted and laced. I plan on keeping it that way. She's way too precious.

nosmallthing said...

Fantastic! You are so right. This hit the nail on the head. I have been so uncomfortable with my daughter watching any of these shows, and I couldn't really put my finger on why...they SEEM innocent enough, right? But why can't she just enjoy playing with her doll house, and her stuffed animals a little more. She doesn't need to grow up any faster than she already is. THANK YOU for the reminder!

Becoming Me said...

This was an amazing post. I found your blog from Rocks in my Dryer and will be back. My four-year-old knows who Hannah Montana is and we don't even have cable.

Multiple Mom T said...

Oh My Word! I was just saying to DH today that I cannot imagine why mothers let their 6 and unders watch Hannah Montana. It's not that she's evil, but good heavens, let's let the little ones stay LITTLE and not worry about boys and clothes etcetera! Thank you for your timely post!

Melissa said...

I just followed the link from Rocks in my Dryer and just want to add my "Amen!". My daughter is only 18 months, but the marketing of the characters has already begun. It's nearly impossible to buy a sippy cup without a cartoon character on it. We're also boycotting the "princesses". :-)

Jeana said...

Oh, this is perfect. Thank you!

elaine@bloginmyeye said...

Oh, YES! This is a big concern for me, and a tough area in which to be counter cultural. I really didn't think I'd be risking my daughter at 6 instead of 16. Lord, have mercy.

Emily said...

Thank you so much for this post! I have been saying this exact thing to my dh and my friends.

Blessed said...

I completely agree -

I found you from Rocks in my Dryer.

Natalie Witcher said...

We just talked to our 9 year old about how she can't wear a bra yet. Not that she even needs one, for cryin' out loud, but we just want her to be 9 and stop wishing for 13. Isn't that what women struggle with? Wanting to be something else? We don't want to set her up for always wanting to be older, or prettier, or wealthier. We just want her to be about where she is now...especially with Jesus.

thepipers said...

I long to mother a daughter someday, and I couldn't agree more with the sentiments here.

sign me .... Mrs. Bick said...

*wiping a tear*

It is hard enough to be a woman in this world, but harder still is to raise a woman of the future. I love that my daughter is pink crazy, loves to dig in the dirt and twirl. I love that she adores nightgowns over pjs and skirts and dresses to pants and shorts. I love that she is a free thinker and leader. And I want her to do whatever makes her heart sing, whether that is dance, or build with wooden blocks, nuts and bolts.

Thank you for saying what I have been thinking for so long.

Happy Mommy said...

That is all so so true! I have a 2 year old daughter and thankfully she has no idea about trashy dolls or hip hop stars, but she likes to help her mama... Thank you for sharing, it was great!

thediaperdiaries said...

thank you for this. As a mother of a daughter I find it hard not to get sucked into this, but we really must. Remember when Barbie was controversial? What has happened?

Becky said...

I've heard Miley say she loves Jesus. Anyone else?

Heather said...

Amazing post. Thank Goodness I don't have a baby girl (yet)... I have a toddler son ;)

/Heather

Fuschia said...

As a mama to FIVE daughters, I thank you for that post! My hubby and I are professional shelter-ers. Translation: we are making it the main focus of our lives to shelter our girls from this world long enough for them to grow up. There will be plenty of time for them to experience the evil's of life (from afar, we hope) when they are much older! Do we get a lot of "flack" from other parents? You bettcha! Do we care? Nope!

Sandra Joseph said...

As the Mother of 3 daughters, 23, 21 & 16, I positively claim that you can raise daughters who are willing to be who God created them to be. It takes work on the Mother's part to say no to trends even when it disappoints your daughters. It also takes work to create a relationship with each daughter; to really listen and be there as a Mom. Your relationship with your daughters will eventually grow into a dear friendship if you are first a Mother.
Every day, I praise God for the work I see in my daughter's lives... "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 3

Sandra Joseph
Recognize & Remember
www.sandrajo.wordpress.com

La Familia Garcia said...

What a wonderful post! I love the way you empower mothers to take action in their family. This really also inspires me to be the active Mom that does things with my daughter instead of just giving her permission to do things.

(Thanks for mentioning it Angie)

Tara said...

My neice is 8. She wears a bra. She was also recently asking her mom when she could start shaving her legs. She's in second grade. SECOND GRADE!!!

Amanda said...

Here via Shannon's ... love, love, LOVE this!

Kelli said...

Amen, Amen, Amen. Not only are we our daughter's best role models, but if we want them to watch movies about good role models how about "Little Women" or " Anne of Green Gables" that demonstrate a true growing up process into beautiful women.
It's very sad-I have a 9 yr old step daughter who declares that she is too old for dolls and ridicules my biological daughter for wanting to be a good mommy one day. The sad part is that the world's idea of grown up is sexy and irresponsible, and that is what society is pushing our girls toward.