I've learned about some really good books lately, in part, from following the blog Reading for Sanity. Oh, what a cool blog! I subscribe to it by email, and it's like getting a piece of my favorite raspberry flavored hard candy when the new posts land in my in-box. One book that especially got my attention is So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can do to Protect Their Kids by Diane E. Levin, Ph.D. and Jeanne Kilbourne, Ed.D
Here is the jacket copy for So Sexy So Soon:
Summary: Thong panties, padded bras, and risque Halloween costumes for young girls. T-shirts that boast "Chick Magnet" for toddler boys. Sexy content on almost every television channel, as well as in books, movies, video games, and even cartoons. Hot young female pop stars wearing provocative clothing and dancing suggestively while singing songs with sexual and sometimes violent lyrics. These products are marketed aggressively to our children; these stars are held up for our young daughter to emulate--and for our sons to see as objects of desire.
Popular culture and technology inundate our children with an onslaught of mixed messages at earlier ages than ever before. Corporations capitalize on this disturbing trend, and without the emotional sophistication to understand what they are doing and seeing, kids are getting into increasing trouble emotionally and socially; some may even engage in precocious sexual behavior. Parents are left shaking their heads wondering: How did this happen? What can we do?
So Sexy So Soon is an invaluable and practical guide for parents who are fed up, confused, and even scared by what their kids--or their kids' friends--do and say. Diane E. Levin, Ph.D., and Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D., internationally recognized experts on early childhood development and the impact of the media on children and teens, understand that saying no to commercial culture -- TV, movies, toys, Internet access, and video games -- isn't a realistic or viable option for most families. Instead, they offer parents essential, age-appropriate strategies to counter the assault.
Filled with savvy suggestions, helpful sample dialogues, and poignant true stories from families dealing with these issues, So Sexy So Soon provides parents with the information, skills, and confidence they need to discuss sensitive topics openly and effectively so their kids can just be kids.
The book review brought back memories for me. My siblings and I were raised with clear boundaries. No high heels until high school, no dating until age 15. It sounds strict now, perhaps, but it was liberating. It kept my true childhood safe. We now live in an environment so overly sexualized, though, that it's hard to know when or where or how to set limits. What good do those limits do when your child walks out your front door? Or watches television? Or listens to the wrong kind of over-sexualized, violent music?
If you're a parent, an aunt, an uncle, a grandparent, or an older cousin ..... reading this book might be the best thing you could do to keep someone else's childhood safe, sacred, and memorable.