Parental Pet Peeves--God Help our Children!

9:10 AMHeather

After I recently read this blog post by Jen Hatmaker, I decided we must be BFF's for real, not just in my imagination.  Because how else can you explain that she and I feel the same way about so many things?!  And, her little light-hearted post that day had me thinking. (side note:  Along with the incredibly uplifting and heavy posts that followed about her trip to Haiti...hitting my nerve on reaching the poor). 

I am a pessimist by nature.  Opposites attract after all because my husband plays the optimistic role for us both, while I painfully split hairs about every potential negative in a situation.  So, thinking about what annoys me isn't that much of a stretch.  It's more of a challenge to actually narrow some parenting pet peeves into one little blog post.  Maybe you, too, will read this and decide we are truly BFFs because we share a brain?

1.  American consumer's bias toward girls.   That's an understatement--"bias towards girls."  As a mom of two boys (before baby girl came on the scene), I cannot even begin to tell you the angst and anguish of shopping for Easter clothes or Christmas outfits for my guys.  Even my good-natured husband opted out of those shopping endeavors.  Because he knew it would not end well.  I'd scour store after store after store.  There would be racks and racks of darling things for baby and toddler and preschool girls.  And one tiny rack of things for boys.  Excuse me?!  Am I the only mother of boys who wants to dress them up for special occasions?  I know I'm not alone because I, of course, polled all my other boy mom friends.  And, we all felt the same way.  WHERE have all the good clothes for boys gone?!  Even now that I have a reason to shop the girl selection, I am still baffled.  Because even back to school shopping for school supplies shows that the consumer bias toward girls is RIDICULOUS!  At Target, I found an entire wall of backpacks.  And, about two pegs-worth were for boys.  And on the shelves and shelves of lunch bags, I found precisely two for boys.  TWO!  Don't even get me started on the whole binder issue at Staples.  Every. Single. One. was pink stripes or girly designs.  Literally.  I let my boy mom opinion be heard by the manager and then had to order online.  Ugh.  Listen here, American marketplace...there are boy moms all over this country who have money to spend.  Help a mom out here!

2.  Inappropriate girl clothes.  #1 actually leads me right into #2, which really is inappropriate clothes for boys, too.  Because my guys don't really need to be sporting t-shirts with cocky or rude sayings on them.  REALLY!  And, let me tell you this.  My little girl is just that.  A little girl.  Okay, well sorta.  Yes, my girl is tall for her age and we've always had to shop up a size or two or more for her.  But, she should STILL be able to dress like a little girl in size 10 or 12.  For the love!  There are years of adulthood to come.  Our little girls do not need to look just like grown-up girls.  Plenty of time for that.  Can we please all settle down and give our girls their childhood back?!

3.  Creep factor in all things geared toward kids.   Listen, I ain't judging you if you are all into Twilight.  No problem there.  But, in my mind it seems to have started a growing trend of all things creepy being geared toward our children.  Those nasty Bratz dolls that now look like monsters.  Or sitting in the Ice Age movie and watching three trailers of kids' movies--which were Frankenweenie, Hotel Transalvania, and Para-Norman.  Please hear me, I'm really not judging you if you took your kids to those movies.  It's not that I have a beef with every one of those movies.  It's the fact that this trend is taking over and I find it harder and harder to find happy, upbeat, uplifting movies and toys and merchandise for my kids.  It's out of control, people.  What ever happened to Strawberry Shortcake, Holly Hobby and Care Bears?  (I know I totally just dated myself).  Can our kids PLEASE have some good-natured and positive things to choose from?  Cause my kids don't need to watch a show about their babysitter being a vampire.  Really.

4.  Breastarants.  You may love their wings, and that's okay.  I'm not judging.  But, I don't need to drive to church on a Sunday and pass literally 3 breastarants on that short trip.  I think the nail in the coffin on this pet peeve was driving by a billboard on the highway for Twin Peaks--where Ruby Tuesdays used to be.  The neon sign proudly announced that kids eat free.  Excuse me?  That is your target audience?   I think my disdain for these establishments has grown for two reasons.  First of all, I am the mom of two boys.  Who are now 13 and 11.  Boys.  Who face a world of temptation every day.  Just a walk through the mall now requires a frequent--"Look away boys," as we walk by store after store with scantily clad girls on their huge signs.  I know, boys will be boys and all.  Please hear me out.  This leads me to reason #2.  Someone I know and love dearly started a rather benign and innocent step that led to a slippery slope.  And his descent quickly led to an addiction to pornography.  An addiction for which he has paid dearly.  DEARLY.  Trust me.  So, I've become a fierce mama bear about being ever so careful and discerning.  And, I guess lucky for me, my boys get LOTS of practice with being careful and discerning as temptations bombard them.  (looky there--that kinda sounded like looking on the bright side?! Who am I?)  

5.  Coupling up in kindergarten.  If I haven't already stepped on your toes, I'm bound to here.  I have sat and watched TV shows with my kids, geared to kids, where the plot is a rather complex and heartbreaking love gone wrong.  And the main characters haven't hit puberty yet.   In our oversexualized culture, we have begun to promote the idea of coupling up long before our kids are ready for such drama and emotional upheaval.  Of course, I "went" with a boy in fourth grade.  But being my boyfriend meant he bought me lip gloss for Christmas.  Literally.  That was about it.  We didn't even hold hands and our parents didn't host family dinners for all of us on the holidays.  We didn't go on dates or anything like that.  Maybe I'm throwing the baby out with the bath water?  Because what really is a rather innocent part of childhood and adolescence is trending toward something that invites not-so-innocent consequences.  At young, YOUNG ages, they should have fun and laugh and enjoy each other.  Not be coupling up so seriously and exclusively and PHYSICALLY that much bigger issues can arise.  Don't mishear me.  I have many friends whom I greatly respect--as people, followers of Christ, and parents.  And, they have set firm perimeters for their kids on this issue while allowing some form of coupling. That is not really what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about being careful to help our children guard their hearts so that a deep wound isn't inflicted by a coupling that became too serious at too young of an age.  I know, I know.  Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet were really young.  But, hey--that didn't end so well, did it?

I'm showing such self-restraint by stopping here.  Because there is much more I can say on many more topics.  When it comes to my kids, I can get pretty fired up.  I love them beyond words and may be a bit irrational when it comes to them.  But, I would rather err on the side of caution.  On the other hand, I am also adament about empowering my children to have the tools they need to live in the world--but not of it.  Chris and I are passionate in our parenting that our kids know how to deal with the realities of life while living out a faith that is genuine, authentic, and full of grace and love toward others.  Even others who wear inappropriate clothes on the way to some creepy movie with their significant other at age 7 after dinner at a breastarant.  Listen, none of us are perfect.  NONE.  And, this world certainly isn't.  My intent is not to bash any person.  My intent is merely to express my feelings about cultural trends which I think all parents must be careful and wise and discerning about.  For the sake of our children.  Oh, God--please help our children!  They need you so desperately.  And, can you please give MY children their daddy's optimism?  I do enough nay-saying for the whole family.

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