This reaction bothered me so much that I had to write about it in this entry. 'Was she serious?' I wondered. Maybe she was exaggerating as a way to blow off steam. I hoped she was exaggerating, because I didn't understand. What about expressing a belief that society begins its changes within the family--and that mothers are important to this change--was offensive to her? I assume that something about it was anti-feminist to her, but I couldn't see it myself. What really got me, though, is that she would rather her teenage daughter go read very adult books like Wifey and Scruples than a book that extolled the importance of mothers and homemaking. Even if she disagreed with what was said in Laurel's Kitchen, how was it that bad?
I have to wonder if there is a clue in this situation that points to why so many parents refrain from protecting their teens today from mature content in today's music, movies, books, and television shows. Sex of all stripes, indecent language and behavior, alternative lifestyles, adult themes, and immodest clothing are everywhere in today's American culture. Some of it is unavoidable, such as the soft-porn magazine, Cosmopolitan, that grocery stores put at children's eye-level without protective shields in front of them. Most of it is not, however. The last time I checked and putting aside the fact that some kids will always find ways to sneak around their rules, parents still had the final say over what their kids watch, wear, listen to, and read. Yet, I am constantly amazed at what parents allow their teens to do and enjoy, from wearing teeny-tiny short shorts to listening to smutty music and watching trashy T.V. shows. What happened to protecting our teens from trash and promoting modesty? Why is sheltering them from that which can harm them so ridiculed today? Why do we allow them to buy into the sex being sold at stores like Abercrombie and Fitch and open up the internet to them without filters?
To be sure, a lot of parents are cautious and protective. Some are much more so than I am, in fact, and I consider myself protective. Perhaps it all boils down to one's religious and moral convictions. Perhaps what is shocking to me--such as allowing teen girls to reveal their cleavage and wear shorts that might as well be underwear--is honestly nothing worth raising an eyebrow over to another parent. 'So they are showing their assets?' I imagine them saying. 'Let them enjoy being young! Varicose veins, sagging, and cellulite will settle in soon enough.' I don't understand this point of view, but maybe that's what it's all about--point of view.
It is true that today's teens are more sophisticated than in those of the past few decades. Personally, I hold the parents accountable for that, and I don't think it's a good thing. We adults haven't promoted the sense of responsibility to go along with that sophistication. Teens are allowed to act like kids while absorbing ideas and images that belong to the world of adults. To me, this is a dangerous mix that begs for trouble--which we have in abundance with drinking, drugs, premarital sex, and all sorts of other issues. And we wonder why. Could it be that if we--as a culture--protected our young people en masse from adult matters like we used to (something I am old enough to personally remember), they might find growing up a little easier, a little less fraught with confusion and pain?