What ever happened to “kids will be kids”? Why are we afraid to let our kids play in the street or walk to school? The truth is that our kids have become sexualized at a much earlier age. The tweenagers are now targeted by marketers and being pushed to look older and sexier than their age. These are the very kids that are going through puberty and highly sensitive about their bodies. They haven’t developed the inner strength to fight the marketing and peer pressure that drives them to buy clothes and accessories to make themselves look older and fit in.
Take a look at the styles in the “popular” shops and see the miniskirts, tiny shorts and padded bras being marketed to our kids. Kids at school ask each other where they got the clothes they are wearing and often go together to malls to shop. The “junior” versions of stores try to capture this segment of our youth so that they will remain “brand loyal” as they grow older. Tweens have become a powerful market segment
Now remind me again why we are nervous letting our kids out on the street or in public by themselves? Is sexualizing our youth making them more vulnerable to sexual predators or date rape as they grow older? Is there a mixed message going to our kids when we allow them to dress in sexy clothes but tell them to abstain from sex?
The last line of defense are parents. We should not be out to be popular with our kids. We need to parent them and teach them what is appropriate and what is not. Yes, you will get nagged and whined at. You will be told how your kid doesn’t fit in any more but there is happy medium. There are appropriate clothes in the same shops and its a matter of guiding our kids toward those instead. Teaching our kids to respect their bodies will stand to them as they enter their teens with all the sexual pressure that brings.
When my daughter was small, she was very expressive and would hug neighbors and other people we knew. Several times I was told that she was too expressive and I should stop her from hugging and smiling at people. I told them that she was just being a kid and as her parent it was my job to protect her and watch out for her while letting her be the kid.
Its time to let our kids be kids again!