Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How Today’s Culture Affects Our Teenage Kids

My latest blog post for Jellytelly.com:

As the mother of two boys I’ve not been highly interested in anything about bringing up girls.  Those tidbits of knowledge weren’t anything I needed to know, or so I thought.  I now have a teenage son who is all-of-a-sudden interested in the opposite sex.  You remember the age where personal hygiene, hair style and clothes became important to you?  Well, he’s that age. Girls are still a strange breed to this boy who thinks nothing of burping the alphabet after one good swig of Coke. But he’s now interested in them.  As his mother I take this new interest seriously.  I’ve begun reading books about raising daughters and the affects our culture is having on our girls.  It’s frightening.
It’s no surprise that boys are just as influenced and just as affected by our culture as girls, but it seems that our poor girls have a barrage of mixed messages that are aimed at their very deepest layers of self esteem and self worth. Confusing expectations that our society hands them; expectations that, for a young girl, may be in direct opposition of how she is being raised at home.  Our current culture greatly mirrors that of the sixties and seventies; a sexual AND social revolution idealism that permeates virtually everything they see and hear. It’s the ideology that says “If it feels good, go ahead and do it, because there aren’t any real consequences”, is back! And guess what? It’s no longer an philosophy that only those who live on the fringe of our culture hold as truths.  No, these are the so-called “new truths” that are being presented to our young people.  There is no longer an understood standard of right and wrong, because we have nothing to base that standard upon. When we no longer utilize a Biblical world view to measure our actions, we are left with our “inner feelings” to use as our litmus test against what is right and wrong.  We’re told to leave God out of it.  
Dr. Dobson has written a newsletter recently which tackles what he calls “The River of Culture”.  He specifically speaks about our daughters and the ideas that today’s society is carrying down this river.  These shocking bullet points are straight from his newsletter:
  • Early sexual experience is healthy, and for girls it leads to empowerment!
  • Virginity results from oppression and should be gotten rid of as soon as possible.
  • There are no innate differences between men and women, except for the ability to bear children.  To be truly equal, mean and women should act and think alike.
  • Modesty is old-fashioned and  reflects the oppression of the past.
  • The source of true power for young girls depends on maximizing their sex appeal, and then marketing it in the competition for boys.
Are you as mortified as I was after reading these for the first time? What does this mean for the spiritual and physical health of our young adults?  As a parent, I need to take this all in and seriously ask God for wisdom. I know I can’t keep my son at home sheltered and away from the world.  That was never my intention, anyway.  But what I can do is give him the Truth that comes from God’s Word.  I can go counter-cultural and teach him that sex is a beautiful gift that God (still) intends for a husband and wife, and then assure him that he will never regret preserving that gift for the woman who will one day share his life.  I can teach him to respect all girls and how to treat them as ladies.  Chivalry is not dead in our house! Opening doors, and pulling out chairs for a date may be “old fashioned”, but that’s what he’ll be taught. I can also teach him that the beauty of any woman is something that comes from the inside, not just the outside.  I can remind him to seek out the depth of a person’s heart before sharing his.
Above all else, I will diligently pray daily for him; pray for his discernment in the choices that he must make, and the many obstacles that he must face in the world he lives. We have time before the dating years start, but these are days where talking about the important aspects of building a healthy relationship are vitally important.
If you are a parent that is looking for some good reading material on this or a related subject, there are a couple books that Dr. Dobson has recommended:  A Return to Modesty and Girls Gone Mild, by Wendy Shalit; and Prude, by Carol Platt Liebau. Of course there is also Dr. James Dobson’s books, Bringing Up Girls and Bringing Up Boys.  

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