Monday, September 28, 2009

Nipple Tassles & Thongs…..For Toddlers

Now that I have your complete attention! Not sure if you’ve heard, but there is a company called Twisted Twee that has designed clothing for youngsters. They are a bit different from other baby clothes retailers because their designs are….…well crass and x-rated. For instance, one baby T-shirt says "I've done F@*k all day!" (This is the edited version). Then there are alphabet shirts that say “B is for Beer,” “C is for Condom,” while X is for a pig having sexual relations with a duck. Huh? Yes…that’s right parents, not only can you purchase these wonderful T-Shirts…you can get jerseys for your tots that have nipple tassles attached to the appropriate spot. Yup! Stripping is hot even for babies! NOT!!!!!!!!!!!

Why in the world would someone create products like this for children? Well, the maker claims that the designs were created in response to her “distaste at seeing mini versions of sexy clothes on young children.” Hmmm….it seems to me that there are much better and more productive ways to contest the cultural trend to sexualize children’s clothing! As if the half shirts, uber short shorts, and skimpy mini-skirts on tweens weren’t enough, now some knuckle-heads will want to buy this junk for their babies!

So let’s be honest, the only reason why retailers are selling these items is because there is a market for them. Therefore, if you don’t buy it…they won’t sell it. However, according to Teen Research Unlimited, in 2006 youngsters between 12-19-years-old spent $179 billion on products ranging from clothing to toys and snacks. Targeting children at a younger age ensures that retailers will have loyal consumers buying their products for a longer period of time. Thus, there seemingly IS a market for this stuff. But there does not need to be!

Let’s think about what message we are sending to our young girls if we dress them in thongs(Yes…they do make baby thongs!), and nipple tassles. Do we want to create a nation of Lolitas, or do we as parents aspire to better. Our kids are inundated with visuals like Miley Cyrus dancing on a stripper pole at an awards show, or whatever image they see on any given reality tv show they choose to tune into.

With all this aversive stimulii, parents are challenged to work harder to counteract it. Don’t be afraid to monitor, edit, AND prohibit what your children are exposed to. What they wear, what they watch, and who they hang out with does impact who they are. So take a stand, and refuse to give your hard earned money to clothing companies that send the wrong message to children and families. REMEMBER…IF YOU DON’T BUY IT, THEY WON’T SELL IT!

Happy Parenting,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Consensual Incest?!?

Mackenzie Phillips went on Oprah yesterday to discuss details published in her latest book “High On Arrival.” It was evident on Oprah’s face that she was stunned (perhaps horrified) at Mackenzie’s openness about one subject in particular….her incestuous relationship with her father, the late John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas.

I use the term relationship loosely because what viewers heard Mackenzie share was that she and her father had consensual sexual encounters for nearly ten years! It apparently began when she was eighteen years old and continued until her late twenties. Here’s my sound off America! I vehemently disapprove of romanticizing incest because there is ABSOLUTELY nothing loving about it! There is no such thing as consensual incest because these acts do not occur in a vacuum. As with any form of sexual abuse, the victim is groomed by the abuser. Now perhaps in Mackenzie’s case, the grooming took years (18 to be exact), but don’t be fooled into thinking that it merely happened on a whim one night.

Although incest is defined as sexual intercourse between people too closely related to marry legally, its true ramification cannot be captured in these few words. Do you think it’s by accident that Mackenzie has had so many low moments in her life…arrests, numerous stints in rehab, plummeting career? Absolutely not! Although an adult when the abuse began, Mackenzie’s response was characteristic of what younger children experience. The repercussions are too many to list, but include addiction to alcohol and other substances, depression, and self-destruction (just to name a few).

Everyone in this country knows that intimacy between parents and children, and siblings is ethically and morally wrong. However, did you know that France, Spain and Portugal do not prosecute consenting adults for incest, and that Romania is considering following suit. In the United States, all 50 states and the District of Columbia prohibit consensual incest, although a few states impose no criminal penalties for it, according to the Harvard Law Review.

What is wrong with us as a collective nation if we send the message that sex between parents and children can ever be deemed consensual? What if Mackenzie was fifteen or sixteen when it began? Would it make a difference? Should it make a difference? It’s all the same to me, because child abuse of any kind is wrong….regardless of chronological age.

If you or someone you know is being abused, please do not be afraid to tell others and ask for help. Although your abuser my try to convince you that what they are doing to you is okay…IT IS NOT, and you are entitled to make it stop…whether you are eight or twenty-eight.

Happy Parenting,

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Teen Violence

Recently, the nation was stunned when two of today’s hottest and promising stars were involved in an act of domestic violence. Chris Brown and Rihanna were in a car on the eve of the Grammy’s when, according to reports, Chris hit, choked, and bit Rihanna. The world saw first hand her bruised and swollen face when a photo was leaked to the public. What’s most saddening about this incident is that both Rihanna and Chris are barely 21 years old. Who would think that teenagers would be involved in domestic violence? Well….the answer may surprise you.

According to research, 33% of teens report experiencing some kind of abuse in the United States alone. Females ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rates of any age group, research shows.Teen dating abuse is like domestic violence in adults in that it also is a pattern of abusive behavior used to control another person. As with adults, abuse can be emotional, sexual, or physical. Typically teens do not have the experience or maturity to recognize that they are involved in an abusive relationship. They often have a “romantic” view of love, and want so much to be independent that they may not tell their parents what is happening to them. That is why parents have to be very aware any and all possible signs that abuse may be occurring.

Here are some clues that indicate a teenager may be experiencing dating violence:
· There are physical signs of injury
· Truancy; sudden decline in academic performance
· Changes in mood or personality
· Use of drugs/alcohol
· Isolation
· Pregnancy
· Has a sudden change in the way he dresses or looks
· Stops hanging out with friends, and starts spending all free time with the romantic partner.

It is important to address your concerns with your teen if you notice any of these behaviors. Unfortunately, without help, the violence will only get worse. Therefore, make certain to intervene and provide emotional support. Listen, don't judge, and try to assess how your teen feels about the situation. Next, contact a local domestic violence organization, as they often provide group therapy sessions. But whatever avenue you chose, make sure to take it seriously because your teen’s life and well-being depends on it.

Happy Parenting,