Recently I started questioning both my blogging abilities and my parenting. So much so, that it put me in a creative funk. I even avoided my computer this week.
I’ve only written a few blog posts for the Detroit News MichMoms Blog, but they were not well received. (If you are curious, you can read the comments here.) So far I have been called a “discipline Nazi”, a “helicopter mom”, a “psycho mom”, and a “control freak”. It was painful to read. What is most bazaar to me though, is this: In the last year and a half, I have written 340 blog posts on My Pajama Days, plus a handful of articles for other bloggers and publications like The Livingston Parent Journal, Blissfully Domestic, and BlogHer. I have received well over 2500 comments and none have been so hurtful as the ones posted at MichMoms. Of course, not every person who has made comments has agreed with my approach or viewpoints on a subject, but everyone who commented did so with respect and professionalism. So, apparently, I just need to grow a thicker skin, or quit writing about parenting experiences.
Ironically, just as I started to question my parenting abilities, two things happened.
- I was complemented on how I parent my youngest child.
- I viewed an eye-opening trailer for a documentary that is airing next week about how media is effecting our children.
Last week I had lunch with The Hare. The lack of respect and amount of general rudeness I witnessed from some of her classmates was overwhelming. They were flippant in their responses when asked questions, talked back to the lunch ladies, purposely left garbage on the tables, and even refused to move out of the way when I was trying to get through the door. When lunch was over, I stopped the lunch lady and said, “Thank you for all of your hard work. Trust me, it does not go unnoticed.”
She put down her rag and gave me a huge smile.
“Thank you for that support but most of all, thank you for parenting such a well-behaved and respectful little girl,” she said.
She then told me she is just as surprised and disappointed at how rude much of “this” generation has become. She has worked for our school nearly twenty years, and can definitely see a difference in the overall attitude of my daughter’s generation. She blames it on the type of shows showing on TV and the movies they are seeing. She suspects video games and internet have also molded their behavior. There seems to be a real lack of respect for authority and desire to help others. It’s all about self-gratification and gaining possessions.
I can’t argue against the fact that certain media has negatively impacted our youth, but I’m not for censorship. I still believe in freedom of speech and creativity because the minute I start fighting against these things, there is a good chance that the things that I value could be squashed because someone else thinks they negatively impact our future generations. We won’t ever all agree on what is appropriate or not appropriate in regards to religion, politics, the arts or media. It is all very subjective.
However, I also believe, that the media sells whatever the majority demands. The media caters to their viewers. So perhaps, what really needs to happen isn’t a greater censorship of our media, but a shift of values and perspectives. If there was no more demand for certain attitudes or behaviors, then wouldn’t what the media presented change too?
This trailer was mesmerizing and totally struck a chord with me as a parent of two girls.
The full length documentary premiered at the 2011 Sun Dance Film Festival and will be airing on the Oprah Winfrey Network this Thursday. I plan on watching it and sharing it with as many parents as possible.
It is clear that yes, the media can and will influence our youth. However, as parents, we have the power to control what they see and hear. We have the choice to limit books, games, television shows, music, movies and magazines that we deem inappropriate. We also have the advantage of providing the tools necessary to rise above the social garbage and media mayhem. There are programs out there that support strong leadership skills and community involvement, we just have to seek them out and participate.
I think the lunch lady was surprised by my response to her comments about “this generation”.
“Unfortunately, ” I said, ” I don’t think we can blame these children. I think the blame lies with my generation, the one that is parenting them.”
Obviously, this demoralizing and overly sexual or violent media content makes our job as parents much harder than our parents. I mean seriously, we watched shows like the A-Team, Family Ties and Full House. There wasn’t anything on like Cougar Town, Pretty Little Liars or MTV’s Teen Mom. One could argue that TV is evolving to match the reality of our youth, but I would argue that our youth is trying to emulate what they are allowed to see in the media. My daughters are aware of those types of shows, but have never viewed them in my home. Some of their friends dress more adult, copies of what they see in advertisements like Abercrombie & Fitch, Victoria’s Secret or Hollister. Again, who buys their clothes? DW and I have gone to great lengths to talk about what type of impression certain clothing choices make.
My goal as a parent is not just to raise adults that finish college, find good jobs and have independent lives. I could easily make that happen with less involvement or censorship. My goal is to also raise adults that have a strong sense of self-respect, respect for others and have a desire to serve their community without prejudice. All things that certain media influences negate, which is why I limit.
So I guess, if being an involved, media-intolerant and rule enforcing parent makes me a “discipline Nazi”, a “helicopter mom”, a “psycho mom”, and a “control freak” then I will wear those badges with honor. I’m going to make mistakes. I’m going to have regrets. But I will continue to parent my children to the best of my ability and hope for the best.
And if later in life, I find out I was wrong, then I’ll pay for their therapy.