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Love American Style

by Deborah Cruz

Today, puberty is hitting at age 7. 8 years olds are wearing cleavage producing bikinis. Padded bras are being made to fit 4 year olds. They are making  heels to fit infants. What’s next, pole dancing lessons in utero? Any mommy worth her salt has to search high and low to find clothes that DON’T make her little girl look like a sex worker.It’s hard having little girls. Kids are growing bigger and taller, faster. Many are being born to older parents and the kids themselves are maturing faster than when we were young. I mean I remember still playing with barbies at 12 and NOT having any boobs.Now, girls are having sex by age 12. It’s freaking scary to think of how fast society tries to make our children become adults.

What’s the rush? Why are we pushing them towards adulthood? It’s like training your ass off to compete in an iron man only to find out that the prize is to perpetually compete in iron men. I try to insure that my little girls get to be little girls. I don’t dress them like miniature adults because they are not adults. I don’t let them watch adult movies or listen to inappropriate music. My rule is if I have to explain something that they shouldn’t know, then they are too young to be exposed to it.

I have friends who have had little girls ( ages 4-6) and I hear them say things like, “Yes, my daughter so and so  has a boyfriend in her kindergarten class”. They giggle and they smirk and I stand there thinking to myself…ARE.YOU.FUCKING. MENTAL?? Seriously, do they realize how utterly ridiculous they even sound saying these words?I mean to they even realize what they are contributing to? It’s like they are non-verbally telling their little girls, Thank God a boy likes you.You are worth something. WTF is this? 1950’s…CHINA?

I try hard to not make my girls feel like their worth is wrapped up in their sexuality..because it is not.Plus, I’ve come from a mom who has spent our entire life telling my sisters and I , “I just wish you had a husband and some children so I wouldn’t have to worry about you anymore.”( This statement alone could earn a person a throat punch…..if she weren’t my Mother) I mean what does that even mean? Is there some sort of exchange going on?Are we incapable of actually taking care of ourselves ( in her mind)? Are we worthless if not validated by marriage and children?

So,this afternoon when we had a play date at the zoo with my 6 year olds best friend..a little boy, for the first time ever, I felt a little uncomfortable.I’ve never felt uncomfortable with their behavior before. This little boy really is her best friend. They run to each other every morning and hug one another and hold hands in line…just like she does with any of her little girl friends. It’s never bothered me before because, I know the kid.I know his family. There is nothing sexual or devious about it. It’s just two little kids being affectionate.But today, as we walked behind the two of them and they were walking side by side with the occasional hand holding punctuated by about 27 random hugs, it felt excessive. Then when his mom told him to stop “manhandling her so much” ( on about the 26th hug) this was his reply “Mom,She’s my friend. She likes it. I like it. Leave us alone!” I was thrust into the future about 10 years and WTF?

My question is what is too much? Where do you draw the line between differentiating between being affectionate and being sexualized? What’s appropriate? What’s not? Is it reasonable to expect our children to behave as children when society is trying to make them adults at every turn? What are your thoughts?

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lebigguy 2011/04/13 - 7:48 am

should have knocked him out. I told you it was inappropriate. A hug when they first see each other and leave is fine. No more.

Truthful Mommy 2011/04/13 - 9:08 am

Yes,I know.He’s such a sweet kid but the whole excessiveness of it all and worse how comfortable they were with just hanging on one another. I can just see that parlaying into inappropriateness very easily:(

A Mommy in the City 2011/04/13 - 8:41 am

Yeah I probably would have stopped after the first five hugs. As a former 6th grade teacher who was invited to a baby shower by more than one of my PRESENT STUDENTS this stuff terrifies me!!!

Truthful Mommy 2011/04/13 - 9:11 am

That is scary! Yeah, I guess the rule should be as soon as I feel uncomfortable with it..no matter how innocent it is, I should intervene.I hate that society makes it so easy for kids to grow up so fast these days. The puberty at 7 freaks me out! We’re on it. Thanks or your perspective.

A Mommy in the City 2011/04/13 - 9:14 am

I think I would have been much more naive about the whole thing if I didn’t see it so much in the school I taught at. I even caught a student having sex in the bathroom. I was super surprised at how much kids know at such a young age. I don’t know whether to blame it on society, social media, tv, or their parents.

Truthful Mommy 2011/04/13 - 9:31 am

I think its a combination really. SOciety in general has become more accepting of the behavior ( but not in my house).Everywhere you look, there are “sexy” clothes for young girls. Make up is more accepted at a younger age. Dating, puberty, its all coming earlier. It’s in the movies, on the magazines,everywhere we turn. Now we have kids who have access to FB and cell phones so they are having a more public outlet to further this behavior. I think morally the world has just become more lax.Ultimately, the responsibility lies on the parents.We have to make the hard choices,the unpopular choices and say NO this behavior is not acceptable. We have to take the time and do the work to instill values in our children.They grow into, who WE mold them to be in many ways.If we are lazy and don’t out in the hardwork, we get whatever society gives us.

P.S. I would have flipped my shit if I had walked in on two 6th graders having sex!GROSS!

zenaliciousmom 2011/04/13 - 10:37 am

So freaky indeed!!!!!!!

I get all up in arms about kigs growing up too fast. I still get a little weird over kid shows that depict boys and girls “LIKING” each other (like Phineas and Ferb). Yeah its harmless, but not really.

I actually had to have a talk with my dd yesterday when she was harassing her 6yo brother about “loving” his friend who is a a family friend (a 6 yo girl). UGH.

Truthful Mommy 2011/04/13 - 11:09 pm

I normally don’t get freaked out.Well, I don’t with this particular little boy because its all very innocent.Just something about 27 hugs at outing felt like a but too much.

Krysta MacGray 2011/04/13 - 10:57 am

I hate worrying about this stuff. I spend so much time thinking about it.

Truthful Mommy 2011/04/13 - 11:12 pm

I hate that we have to worry about this or thinking about it.I really worry about it ,especially when I have girls. It’s just sad that we even have to be thinking about all this when our children are still so young:(

Vivi 2011/04/13 - 1:16 pm

My son had his first “girlfriend” situation when he was 13. They were in 7th grade and she lived up the street. It all seemed innocent at first – but let me tell you – her mother got WAY too into it for me. She was inviting my son over to her house and out to dinner with her family nearly every night. I had to put my foot down. When I tried to put some distance- the mom got upset and so did the girlfriend.

The breaking point? The girlfriend had come to our home one evening. The mother came to pick up her daughter. We were ALL standing at the front door (waiting for them to go) when she turned to her daughter and said, “Okay, kiss and hug him and let’s go.” Then she stood there. I almost fell over. What did you just say? Are you serious? I interrupted and distracted and made every one fairly uncomfortable at that point. After they left, my son said that she had been very encouraging of them being affectionate and demonstrative in front of them. Ewww.

I was so angry. I had spent a great deal of time and effort lecturing my son about appropriate and non-appropriate at that age. I could not understand this mom’s thinking. My son of course was all for it – what 13 year old boy wouldn’t be? Unfortunately I was the mean mom and no longer allowed them to be together at the mom’s house. They were only allowed to see each other at my home.

The mom contacted me and was quite offended that I had questioned her “parenting”. Needless to say the whole thing ended badly. My son eventually tired of the drama and the relationship. For months afterwards, the girl continued to cry and call – it was disturbing how involved the whole thing was. It soured my son on girlfriends as well.

He is now 15 and wants nothing to do with what he calls the “drama”. He has told me that the ex-girlfriend has had another “boyfriend” for over a year now and wears a “promise” ring telling people they are “engaged” and her mother is thrilled.

How wacked is all of that? Here I am trying to teach my boys to respect girls and I’m dealt THAT mother!

Truthful Mommy 2011/04/13 - 11:14 pm

That truly is some craziness! That girls Mom needs help. She is rushing her daughter into being a clingy adult and putting all of her value in her sexuality. Great job..NOT!You did the right thing.

Very Bloggy Beth 2011/04/13 - 6:09 pm

I had a “boyfriend” when I was in 4th grade. We sat together at lunch. It was all very innocent. He lived in my neighborhood, and one day he came to my door. My mom made a HUGE deal about it, and I never told her anything about another relationship I had until I was getting married. So, it’s possible to get a little TOO concerned with it, if you ask me. I think most kids aren’t thinking too much about sex at that age unless we start talking to them about it.

I do agree that we should teach our daughters to have good self-esteem, and not to tie their self-worth to boys, or looking good, or having sex. With that foundation, they are less likely to start having sex at a young age. It’s when parents don’t care that young men and women start engaging in risky behaviors.

I’m not an expert, but I have read in many places what you said: kids are going through puberty at much younger ages than our generation did, so this might be a reality that we as parents in the 21st century need to find a new way to deal with than our parents dealt with it.

Truthful Mommy 2011/04/13 - 11:17 pm

I don;t make a huge deal about it. AS I said they are only 6 and its very innocent. I just hate that the way society is today, I have to even be concerned or think about things in this perspective. I know this kid and his family but some other kids I don’t. SOme other kids have older siblings, parents who aren’t present, different values….my job is to be my daughters moral compass and to guide her until she is old enough and has been taught enough to make her own decisions. I do think its ridiculous that any parent would be all gung ho about their elementary school aged child having a “Boyfriend: or “girlfriend” it speaks to the sanity of the parent.

Jess@Straight Talk 2011/04/14 - 4:51 pm

Ay no. I thought I had at least a good 7 years ahead of me, realistically. NOOOOO. And his response? Ay. AY GUEY. I can’t think of anything intelligible.

susan 2011/04/19 - 3:54 am

my eight year old daughter is being exposed to this particular bandwagon too, having a best friend who is a boy. we have had long discussions, as well as some sharp responses when i hear her other friends teasing her.
it’s tragically sad that this is even an issue, but i am keenly aware that they are exposed to so much of this without us even realising…Katy Perry, Kesha…etc all seen as role models by these girls. frightening!

as for the 6 year olds, i say let it go…highlighting it is probably only going to make them aware of ‘it’ and like any other kid behaviour that a parent wants to discourage, the more attention it gets the more it gets attention.

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