What is with this “tween” thing? Who says these kids are controlling our culture? Who are the ones giving them the control?
This morning I was reading the USA Weekend magazine from the Sunday Free Press (okay, yes, I know it’s already Tuesday but this is how long it takes me) and usually I don’t read that kind of garbage, but the front page article caught my attention. It mentioned how “Tweens” are spending millions on “pop culture products.” Where are these tweens getting the money to spend on the pop culture products, if tween ages are from 8-14 and the legal working age is 15 or 16?
Now, I am feeling a little cautious about preaching on this issue, because this could be one of those instances (and probably is although I really hope not) where I am just standing on my soapbox shouting “wah, wah, wah” with no kids of my own to speak of my experience, and then when the time comes for my little tween to be begging and begging for the pop culture products of his or her generation, I’ll give in and just say okay. I have no tween, I don’t even have a pre-teen nor do I even have an infant (yet), so where do I get the right to spout off about this issue?
I would hope that by the time my baby in the womb is old enough to walk and talk and request this or that doll or remote control car or fashion accessory, I should hope that I still rule by the same moral compass that rules me now. I strongly feel that it is simply a matter of saying “no” to our kids. In the past, I have worked with young kids of this age group in a treatment facility for childen with behavior and emotional problems. Often they would make demands that were unreasonable, demanding to go off by themselves (truancy risk) or demanding to sit by their “dates” (other boys or girls in the program) at the movies, demanding dessert at the fast food place we took them to on our already limited budget. Yet they felt they had a “right” to these things, as many of them had never learned the word “no.”
I can hear my own voice preaching this, and it sounds too eerily familiar as being the statement of a non-Mom commenting on the behaviors and attitudes of “other” moms – so feel free to set me straight if I am wrong (or if this is totally not how parenting goes), cause I do admit my own inexperience in raising children. But after working with these pre-teens at a behavior management treatment facility, I feel I have some knowledge about setting boundaries and limits and all that good stuff, and I also became increasingly good at using the “no” word and facing the music. Sure they whined, sure they screamed, they threw fits in public and called me names, but at the end of it all, I felt proud to have taken a stand for what I knew was better for them in the long run.
With my own kids, I should hope that “no” also comes along with a patient, one-on-one, eye-level explanation from Mom about why this product or that toy is not a healthy choice or doesn’t fit into the Islamic paradigm, but come on, let’s be real. In the middle of a busy store with a cart full of groceries and two wailing children, I doubt I’m going to have the time or the patience to say more than just a simple “no” and hope the matter is done with. But I feel as long as I am consistent, my kids will know what to expect from me, and know that Mom is not likely to say okay to the thigh-high Miley Cyrus boots or the Jonas Bros baseball hat.
I’ve sat and watched the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon and as a Muslim Insha’allah-Soon-To-Be Mother, I whole-heartedly disapprove. I also am aware of the fact that my kids are SURELY going to watch way more TV than I would like them to, and probably play more video games than I would hope. I think we all have the ideal versions of our parenting in our heads before they are born, and I know for one that mine is over-bloated with rules carried out to perfection and happy smiles and understanding moments of mutual agreements. This is all a joke, I know. But on the very basic level, I hope that I can still stand for the morals and beliefs that our Islam provides for us, and if my children can gain a knowledge of their religion, I would hope that this saves them in the long run from the evils of marketing and advertisements, Western pop culture and Miley Cyrus boots.
So be real with me, Moms…tell it like it is and let me know – is this too much to hope for?