With Little L fast approaching 3 years of age, we've entered a new phase of parenting. The part where society really starts to enter the picture.
For example, this weekend a neighbor and I took our girls to a local elementary school fall festival. So local, in fact, we just piled the girls in to the wagon and walked. As we were walking through the booths and bounce houses, I sorta noticed loud music blaring and a karaoke tent behind us but didn't give it too much thought... until I realized I was tapping my foot along to "Last.Friday.Night" by Katy-Perry. Are you familiar with the lyrics?
As a child, I remember my mom making a HUGE deal over pop music and culture and banning me from regular radio stations and only allowing me Christian music tapes. (yea, that's right, I'm old enough that I got audio cassettes at some point in my life) I also remember hitting a point when I thought she was totally overbearing and I really resented her for trying to shelter me so much.
Funny how life has a way of turning full circle, right?
I paused at the festival and looked around at the HOARDS of small children. The lyrics to that song are AWFUL and completely child inappropriate. Yet no one else seemed remotely phased. And I know people who think it is hilarious when their toddlers are singing Lady.Ga.Ga or Brit.ney S.pears songs word for word, but I don't find it to be funny at all. When I think back to what was considered to be cutting edge pop culture when I was young and realize just how far we've come in society on the raunch-o-meter in the last 25 years, I'm kinda terrified. Because while I remember a time when certain curse words were NOT allowed on prime time TV or when the standard of normal didn't include little girls wearing stuff written on the backside of their sweat pants or baring enough skin to make a grown man blush, in this day and age many people seem to be completely comfortable with their children growing up WAY TOO FAST. Especially their little girls.
I try to do all the right things here. She's in church several times a week. We stress the importance of acting like a lady. I do my best to keep the radio tuned to safe stations or just use the ipod with a play list for her. I keep the TV to child-approved stations or DVDs only when she's awake and I do my best to keep her from being bombarded by images of what modern day society believes to be the standards in beauty and behavior.
At some point, though, this will be a losing battle for me. Especially when she heads off to school and is surrounded by children whose parents don't have the same standards as I do. I don't want her to be the unpopular kid at school who is deemed meekly and cast out for being a "Jesus-freak," because I remember those days. They were TOUGH and it was ultimately a war that led me to a lot of self destruction and confusion as a young adult. And the worst part for me was that my parents were SO hot and cold with our lifestyle. One year was church every Sunday, no music, no TV, nothing and then the next year they would do an absolute 180. No, I do NOT want to be that parent that cannot make up her mind about what is and isn't acceptable in my household.
So I feel like each decision I make right now is so crucial. She is totally aware of things like Hallow.een and Santa Claus. 2 major hot spots in most Christian households, I think. And while part of me thinks these things are innocent and should just be approached and handled as such, another part of me feels something wrong inside about them. How do I explain to her as a teenager and young adult that she shouldn't participate in a holiday that was originally intended for Pagans to connect with spirits and worship Satan by dressing up as a witch or something else scary (or in an embarrassingly skanky costume as a young adult) when I paraded her up and down our street in innocent costumes as a young child? How do you deal with the true importance of Christmas after you've placed a truck load of emphasis on an imaginary fat guy in a red suit bringing a ton of presents? Because let's face it, the secular part of Christmas is VASTLY more appealing to a child than the biblical part (which, really, should be the only part).
I think maybe I am having such a hard time knowing how to handle all of these things because my parents never figured it out either and it really did a number on me as a kid. I just don't want it to be the same way for my kids. Now that L is getting to a place where she is understanding things so much more, I really want to determine the best approach and start as we intend to go on. Because confusion and inconsistency is so unfair to children and while I know they will be old enough at some point to figure out what they believe to be true and best for themselves, it is MY job to set their feet on the proper path.
"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Prov 22:6)