Claiming to have walked uphill in a snowstorm to school just doesn’t cut it anymore for parents trying to explain to their kids just how fortunate they are. Seriously! We didn’t have the internet when we were kids! No Google! No YouTube! No e-mail! No texting! When today’s teens’ parents were growing up, times were definitely DIFFERENT.
While the need to have “the talk” – whether it’s the “puberty talk,” the “taking care of your body” talk or THE “sex talk” – hasn’t changed, the environment around us has changed dramatically. As a mom of an almost 8-year-old girl, I’ve been fast-tracked in recent years on the art of protecting my daughter from learning or experiencing things too soon or too informally.
When she first explored YouTube at about 6, all she sought was Frozen sing-a-longs and videos of Beanie Boo stuffed animals. But what scared me was that she could innocently Google “Frozen songs together” and find porn, in an igloo, set to the tune of Let it Go. We had the “You Might Accidentally Find Inappropriate Things” talk long before I considered tackling puberty.
But here I am with an almost-8, and the time has come. I want to be certain her body knowledge doesn’t come from a search engine. It’s time to start talking and to be sure she gets the right information in a comfortable, informative and empowering manner. She needs to hear about how special she is, how unique her body is and what it does – she does not need to see it on her iTouch, delivered by some tween who just posted a “Shopkins Blind Basket” video. (Such videos are painful-to-watch snippets of a cheesy teen actually opening a package of tiny toys – “OMG, I got Wendy Wedding Cake!”)
We are participating in TurningTeen, a program set to start – and change – the conversation, but I’ll save my pitch for another time and just encourage you (mom and daughter) to initiate the “Let’s Talk to Each Other and Not YouTube About Our Bodies” talk.
Jill Rivkin is a freelance writer and author. She’s on a mission to create confident, empowered, smart kids, starting with her own and attempting to reach many with her first kids’ book Crazy Hair, which teaches kids to recognize differences and love their uniqueness. Her second book, It’s Just a Potato, set to launch in late fall 2015 encourages bravery in trying new foods. Find her on Amazon, Twitter @JillMRivkin or www.facebook.com/crazyhairBook