Say no and parent your kid

Dear Fellow Gen X parents,

Ours is a pretty cool ass generation, I must say. After all we know that we won’t ever have as much money as our Boomer parents, we pretty much know the man is full of shit. That’s why so many of us even as we start to hit the 40’s threshold are still freelancers and consultants. We may not have nearly as much financial comforts as our folks but damn it we have time to chill and time to raise our kids. So many of us were latch key kids that as we started having babies we totally embraced parenthood in a way that our Boomer parents truly cannot understand.

Fueled by the internet, we love to research any and everything especially when it comes to our kids. Many of us if our resources allow want nothing but the best for our kids, best car seats, best food (no Wonder bread and bologna for our kids, tofu pups baby!). Now I know I may seem like I am making fun of my fellow Gen X parents but I really am not, hell I am just as guilty as this. I also am married to a guy who still rocks out in his t-shirts and Chuck Taylor’s and he is 42. Seriously today’s 40 year old parent never looked so good, as a friend told me recently when I alluded to being almost 40 and middle aged, she said we are not middle aged, late 30’s is the new 20’s. See we take this staying young and being cool thing really seriously.

However I think it also goes too far especially when it comes to raising our kids. Most college educated Gen X folks would never dream of disciplining and treating their kids the way most of us were raised. No one except the most uneducated will ever fess up to smacking a child, and if you do, you can fully expect to be shunned. We are the generation that strives to be consensual, to be gentle, hell we want to be cool with our kids. Harsh words exchanged between us and our kids are almost more upsetting to us than to our kids. Little Janey dear, lets see if we can find a way that works for both of us. How many times have I heard these words or some variation in many of the parenting books that were recommended when the kidlet was born. See when elder boy was born he was raised in a style similar to how I was raised except that there was little in terms of physical discipline and he was always allowed a voice. I couldn’t always accommodate his desires but he was heard.

The thing is though we are living in a different world, a world where kid’s especially little girls are being sexualized so much earlier than our generation and previous generations. Yes, we had Barbie with her unrealistic body but no one and I mean no one I ever knew walked around before the age of oh say 18 with words like “Juicy” and “Sexy” displayed on any of their clothing. Yet these days take a trip to any Middle America shopping emporium and take a look at the clothes that are marketed on size 6X and up. Most of it looks a lot like mini versions of what adult women wear. Hell, it can actually take some serious effort to find clothes that looks like something a little girl should be wearing. Just a couple of weekends ago, I went to get the kidlet some sandals, a pretty easy one stop shopping trip I figured. Oh no, turns out Famous Footwear has all sorts of thong sandals and heeled sandals but no good sturdy play sandals. Mind you the kidlet is in preschool!! Why would a child between 4-6 need a pair of one inch heeled sandals?

Yet at the kidlet’s preschool and dance class which has a fair share of middle income Americans these are the clothes her peers wear. People have commented that my kidlet dresses more old fashioned with an emphasis on dresses that fall below the knee. Um…maybe it’s because I think a kid should be dressed age appropriate and not merely in what is cool.

Which brings me to this video, take a minute and watch it. In case you can’t watch it, you basically have 6-7 year old girls dressed provocatively while dancing to a Beyonce song. Six and Seven year old girls!! One question, where are the parents? I lied I have another question, why didn’t anyone say hell no to this idea? My girl takes dance class and you can best believe that if provocative dances were being taught she would be pulled out and next I would be making others aware of what the dance school was teaching.

It’s easy to lay blame about the sexualization of girls at the feet of the media, but the fact is as parents we are the folks in charge and responsible for our kids. Turn off the TV, don’t buy the clothes, and say no you will not be in the dance recital. At times it feels as if my generation is so stuck on being cool and hip that we have carried that attitude and view into our parenting. I figure while I want my kids to like me, it’s my job to raise em and hopefully do so in a way that they will be dynamic adults. What kind of messages do we send our kids when we cannot be parents instead choosing to be their pal? Truthfully there are times in parenting when you may have to play the heavy, it sucks but parenting like any other relationship has those moments. What are we saying when we cannot bear to stand for something? Instead allowing our kids to be shaped by forces beyond us.

Seriously there are times when as painful as it is you just have to say no.