From Andrea's column, 'What's wrong...???', which was printed last week, one particular image resounded strongly for many of us - that of the young girl, inappropriately dressed, in public.
My opinion on the topic is that short shorts were designed for young, athletic types, period. Same goes for the banana hammocks, a.k.a Speedos.
This summer, I've seen a few too many young girls wearing very little in the shorts department. It's not that they were grotesque in any way, but neither were they athletic. In my modest opinion, they looked far more womanly than what is appropriate for revealing such parts. However, what really bothered me was that these girls were with their mothers.
The first thing that goes through my mind is, 'how can they let their daughters out of the house dressed that way?' (Some of you laugh, like, 'yeah, right, she's going to listen to me?!' but to quote Andrea, "who's the parent?")
Each time, after the shock subsides and I resist the urge to say something inappropriate out loud, I remind myself that many mothers are exercising extreme caution in how they speak to their teenage daughters - knowing they are treading on thin emotional ice at all times. Mothers nowadays don't want to say things like, 'you look like a street walker in those shorts' - which is absolutely what their parents would have said to them! They also don't want to discourage a healthy appetite by asking, 'Should you be eating that?'
But is it wise to say nothing at all?
Being 'politically correct' (or your child's buddy) might spare feelings and offenses, but it also risks parents losing sight of what is ultimately the best decision.
How do we help kids walk the fine line between appropriateness and free expression?
To answer this, we must first ask how we can evolve out of patterns of insult and degradation into uplifting affirmation. For example, we cannot teach young people that they are loved and accepted if we are belittling their every action, second-guessing their decisions and laughing at their hopes and aspirations. How can we be the wind beneath our children's wings if we are always pouring water on their fire?
We must communicate with the young ones, whether they're our own flesh and blood or not, that we see our future in them, our very own dreams realized. Like it or not, they'll outlive us all. How do we want to be remembered?
How do we ensure they see us as authority figures? I don't think we can. Let's face it, once they learn how to take care of themselves, the only influence we have as elders is guidance and support.
After all, we are raising adults, not children! If we want them to grow up to be responsible, we have to be responsible and not shy away from our duty to protect our children from stupid decisions. Explaining our actions helps kids to consciously understand our higher reasoning.
We can't influence them 24/7, but we can nurture in good humour, steering clear of contention and strife, and we can encourage our children to talk to us about their own self-image and self-worth. For if we don't tell them they are worthy, who will? Actions also speak louder than words. Listening is a verb as subtle as quiet observation but as powerful as loving adoration!
Think about all the young people in your life - the impressionable under-25, still forming conclusions about life. They are not stupid, in spite of some of the decisions they make (and we have all made stupid decisions at every age!), so don't look down on them and don't talk down to them. You don't know how you might be affecting their entire world.
Remember, we tough, busy adults tend to forget the fragility of youth. Teenagers and young adults may have grown into these larger bodies, but they are still babies, relatively speaking, and they need to be handled with care.
These young folks look up to us, so let's not let them down.
Worriers, be careful of your thoughts. Prayer is the most powerful thing one human can do for another, whether you believe it or not. Worry is asking for what you don't want, so stop worrying about the kids. Lift them up every day in your heart and you won't be able to help but lift them up with your words!