Last week’s post about attire and the male versus female mind has drawn a lot of comments. (I love hearing what you have to say, so keep the thoughts coming.) All the discussion got me thinking about where the solution can be found. I was toying with the role parents’ play when Carlos hit the nail on the head; saying girls “need strong fathers to say NO and strong mothers to explain why!!”
While the fault cannot entirely rest on the parents I do find that a large amount of the trouble teens and young adults get into, especially in the areas of attire and sexual relations, could be repaired or avoided if the parents played a larger role in the discussion.
Today it is not enough to have a single ‘sex’ talk with a young girl (or boy for that matter). It isn’t enough to tell them once what is appropriate to wear and what isn’t. They need more. Teens are hearing, seeing and reading about this from the time they are young. They see advertisements that objectify women. They listen to suggestive music and learn how to dance from the accompanying music videos. Even literature is filled with scenes that normalize teenage drinking, drugs and sex.
It’s with these images, thoughts and words that a teen enters the modern world. As a result they need parents who can talk openly with them about these topics. They need parents who are going to ask them the appropriate questions and be open to hearing the answer no matter what it will be. Teens can’t be afraid to turn to their father or mother when they hit a difficult patch.
Likewise, parents can’t be naïve, by assuming their daughter or son would never be drunk at a party or sleep with someone. Many times parents think I’ve taught him/her to be better than this. All the right training in the world doesn’t negate the child’s free will and ability to choose wrongly.
When I was in high school my dad pulled me aside one night and told me that I could always tell him or my mother anything. He assured me that if I approached him with the truth no matter what it was and no matter how badly I messed up, he would never yell and he would always love me. I promptly told him I’d been pulled over on my way home from school and gotten my first speeding ticket. Oops. But kidding aside, it was one of the best lessons he could have taught me.
There needs to be open communication between parents and children. And sometimes, for the parents that means opening their eyes and asking the hard questions.