Raising healthy and responsible children in this online, in-your-face world has never been more challenging or more important. We are all witnessing the increased influence of the media and peers on how our children think and feel about themselves and the world around them. Too often it is the media that is defining what is funny; what is attractive, what it means to be successful, and most importantly, what is right. The effect on our children is profound:
- Young girls and boys becoming “sexualized” in their language, dress, and behavior before developing even the first signs of puberty. Read APA Article
- Internet “friends” and online “anything goes” chat rooms replacing a healthy understanding of relationship and friendship.
- Pre-teens developing an obsessive interest in body image, starting no-eating clubs, taking steroids.
- Teens and young adults viewing sex as a “benefit” or product to be acquired rather than an act of intimacy.
- Kids growing up thinking it’s their “right” to have it all right now, unable to exercise self-discipline or delay gratification.
Whether we are parents, educators, or health professionals, helping our children develop the skills they will need to become responsible men and women can feel like swimming upstream against a cultural current that often has more time with our kids and many more resources than we do. We see the price our kids are paying in a world where their self-worth is assessed by how much stuff they have and how fast they can get their desires met. But what can we do? How do we create a family culture that supports our values and gives children the tools they need to grow into responsible adults? How do we prepare our kids to access the benefits of all our technology without becoming enslaved by it?
We learn to become proactive. We get there first and we keep the conversation going. We develop a way of parenting that imparts our values and gives our kids a structure that supports responsible behavior.
I invite you to take the time to explore my website. I have developed:
- Presentations, and community based workshops that give parents, educators and health professionals the tools they need to proactively address challenging issues and sustain a dialogue throughout a child’s development.
- Programs designed in conjunction with religious educators that address sexual behavior and the impact of the media on family life.
- A Curriculum for Sexual Health and Responsibility that includes parents, respects community sensibilities, and addresses all aspects of sexuality including the importance of self-discipline and the role of the media in influencing sexual norms.
- Workshops for teens that address the challenges of adolescence and engage them in discovering the values they want to make part of their lives.
- The Talk: What Your Kids Need to Hear From YOU About Sex, a guidebook for raising a sexually healthy and responsible adult in an oversexualized, online, in-your-face world.
Too often I see parents give up their common sense attempting to try something some “expert” says is the right thing to do. Don’t use my work this way! Each of you knows more about parenting than I could ever tell you. Trust, that the amazing love you have for your child, will guide you to say the right thing, at the right time. Explore my website. Let it stir up your thinking about your values, our culture, sexuality, and what you want for your child. Discuss these ideas with your family and friends. Form a parenting group at your child’s school, church, or synagogue. Let me know how it goes. I would love to hear from you and know what works and what doesn’t.
With great respect,
Sharon Maxwell, Ph.D.