Straight Talk Advice

Feb 18, 2009

Young mother worries about raising kids in “raunch” culture

DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: I am 20, engaged to be married, and pregnant with our first child. The problem is I’m worried about raising children in today’s “raunch” culture. My fiancé’s nephews (ages 6 to 13) are constantly pointing at girls on the street, calling them fat or prostitutes, and accusing each other of having sex with them. A 12-year-old in the nearby school is pregnant by an 11-year-old boy. Everywhere I look, I am appalled at how children are acting. Do I risk putting my children in school only to have them corrupted by this influence? A parent can only do so much at home teaching manners and right from wrong. I want them to have sports, band, dances, friends, but is public school worth the price, or should I home school? — Lori, Rocklin CA

Liva 20, Hudson, NY Ask me a question

A wise friend gave me this basic tenet of parenting: If you want children to behave a certain way, set clear expectations and never stray from enforcing those expectations. In addition, seriously limiting TV and Internet is an easy way to protect them from premature violence and sex. Babies and young children pick up everything — including your language. Give them natural toys, read lots of books, don’t use TV as a babysitter. Can you afford private school? Is a charter school nearby? I was home schooled awhile and it’s very socially limiting. 

Katie 15, Auburn, CA Ask me a question

If you instill good values in children at an early age, there is no need to shelter them from the “evil world”. Your kids will be exposed no matter what. It’s your job to make what they encounter a learning experience.

Graham 15, Fair Oaks, CA Ask me a question

The fact that you are concerned now puts you ahead of the game. Teach your children good manners. Never allow them to say anything at home that you wouldn’t want them saying elsewhere. I advise against isolating them socially. Home school often teaches immaturity, as children don’t learn what is acceptable in a real social environment. Let them play sports, make friends, play music.

Lennon 22, Fair Oaks, CA Ask me a question

Look into private school. They tend to be more sheltered. Many offer financial aid.

Johannes 21, Springfield, MO Ask me a question

Springfield MO: You can never truly protect your child from bad influences. But you can be lovingly present for your child and be the one he comes to for advice. By answering questions honestly, your child will learn to depend on you and his values will be shaped through your answers. By withholding information, or not accepting your child and trying to force him to be someone else, he will look to his peers for help and possibly be pointed in a poor direction. I don’t recommend home schooling. Let your child have the life his friends will have.

DEAR LORI: The panel is sour on home school, but excellent programs do exist with social opportunities. Check with your state department of education for availability in your area. To add to the panel’s wisdom, I observe that humans have largely lost the instinct to shelter their young. Babies, tots, and small children are parked in front of TV sets, encouraged to use computers, and conditioned to be consumers from day one. As you’ve lamented, the latest commodity in consumer culture is “raunch.” The best defense is to shelter children from commercial media and consumer environments until they are old enough to not absorb things like a sponge — that being their first 7 to 10 years. (Like musician, Jack Johnson, says, “Turn that thing off.”) At the same time, be a role model, get them in nature, find them playmates with like-minded parents, continually present your values on how to be in life. This moral foundation will last a lifetime. It’s a fact that kids sheltered from commercialism in infancy and early childhood make better decisions later on.

  1. By Brian, age , from Yuba City, CA on 08/17/2009

    I agree with Lauren that all efforts should be made to avoid environments for children which expose them to bad behavior, I am disappointed that no one addressed the issue that Lori is pregnant and unmarried. While I appreciate that she has plans to get married, some of the ”raunchy” behavior that she complains of is due to young people engaging in sexual behavior before marriage. Her child will someday figure out that his/her mother is one of those ”do as I say, not as I do” parents. The true way to raise decent children is to be a decent person yourself.

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  2. By Mary Kay, age , from Yuba City, CA on 08/17/2009

    Lauren’s response about sheltering our children when they are sponges was right on. That does need to happen. However, in response to the letter from Lori in Rocklin, I think you all missed the boat. Her lifestyle is the most powerful message that she will be sending to her child. She is worried about raising a child in our “raunchy” culture, yet here she is publicly stating that she is pregnant and unmarried. Her child will be able to figure out that he/she was conceived outside of marriage. I’m curious why all the responses ignored that huge elephant in the room. Is it just so commonplace and acceptable any more to be pregnant and not married? She could be one of the people her fiance’s nephews could be pointing at with rude remarks.

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