The problem with Halloween.

Halloween

11 years ago, I learned the best idea about parenting before I even had kids.

I used to work for Bose, the company that makes amazing stereos and headphones.

One of the markets we would try to sell to is college graduates. We wanted  the 23-year old who got their first real check to buy one of our stereos but we had a problem.

Sony started talking to that 23-year old when they were 6.

Sony sold them a pink stereo in the first grade.

Sony sold them a Playstation 3 at age 13.

Sony sold them headphones at age 15.

So by the time we showed up at 23 to sell them a stereo there was a sense of “Who are you? I’ve never met you before.”

Sony essentially had a 17-year head start on us. If someone took karate for 17 years before you did, they are going to crush you.

The problem with this principle is that a lot of times we parents give pop culture a huge head start with our kids.

We let the world start the conversation, let celebrities drive their dreams, and let society define their values.

Then at age 15 we show up in their life and wonder why they’re lost.

As a dad of two daughters, this cartoon about Halloween bums me out because most of us are too busy to respond with the truth. We miss the “store aisle” conversation with our kids because we think if we don’t have the conversation it won’t happen.

Here’s the truth though:

It’s not whether your kids will have a conversation about the world they live in, it’s whether you’ll have a voice in it.

It’s time to start talking with our kids.

Earlier than we want.

More often than we like.

Don’t give the world a head start with your kids.

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Comments

  1. FracturedNGrace says

    Such a great point!!! As a parent of a 3 year old boy I will definitely keep this in mind as he grows up. I want him to be different. REALLY different. Weird different. Godly different.

    • ASharpsteen says

      As a mother of two young girls, I think it’s equally important to not only have the conversations about gender and beauty stereotypes with the girls, but with the boys too! Eating disorders are growing among boys are quickly starting to catch up to girls. Why? Because *obviously* the MANLY men that all the women want has about 3% body fat and has triceps at least as big as their heads. That being said, boys *also* need to be warned that most depictions of women they see are equally unrealistic. Basically, both males & females need to be warned equally about the dangers of trying to hold themselves and their expectations for future mates to the unrealistic standards set forth by the general world view, and taught that instead they need to strive to see people for their heart situation instead.

      • FracturedNGrace says

        I very much agree! My hope is that I can teach my son to see true beauty, not what the world says it is. Also, that he will know that every person was created perfectly by God exactly the way they are.

        • B says

          I disagree! God does not create people: “the way they are” God generally creates people who are far better than they currently are. Babies are not born overweight (or at least not very often).

          There is no reason children should not be taught to be healthy and to look for a partner who is healthy. Does this mean that they should purge or starve themselves to 3% body fat and thank that is ‘okay’ of course not… but it is equally bad for a kid to end up being at say 25% body fat because their parents tell them that ‘only the inside matters’.

          The bible says: “Your Body is a Temple” and while the quality of worship at a temple reflects the insides the example provided in the bible shows that God expects his temples to glorify him: and this includes physically as well as mentally and spiritually.

          • Margaret says

            25% body fat is quite healthy for a female. I get your point that we shouldn’t let our children be overweight and tell them that it is okay, and maybe you were just guessing with the percentage thing. But we need to be careful to have a accurate view of what a healthy female really looks like, and not the super skinny ideal of our current culture.

          • Suzanne says

            I agree with your idea – I think Americans have gotten set in the idea that any way you look is ok because we should be happy with ourselves. That’s not true, healthy is healthy and that should be the goal. While healthy may be a little heavier than the clothes models in magazines that doesn’t mean one should be ok with being obese. If you are obese you are abusing your body just as much or worse than the people starving themselves to be thin. That said 25% is well within the healthy range for women but it’s overweight for men. Personally, I’ve struggled with disordered eating and it has been a real challenge to try to teach my children that it’s important to eat healthy but I hope that overall they are getting the message.

      • Briggs says

        Yes yes yes! And don’t forget that our own words and deeds serve as examples for all the little ones in our lives.

        When you meet a little girl, don’t tell her how pretty she is. Ask her what books she’s read lately or if she likes to build with legos. When you meet a little boy, don’t ask him what sport he plays. Ask him if he likes to draw, or helps cook dinner.

        As a man, push back when you notice other men objectifying women. As a woman, push back when you notice other women belittling a man for not being tough enough.

        • says

          Briggs, you’ve hit the nail on the head! We can’t keep following the standard if we want it to change. And oh my how it needs to change!

        • says

          Go Briggs!

          We keep it simple in our home. What would you add to that costume that would make it ok to our standards. and lest you think we run the prim and prude tribe, we don’t, but there is a standard of what is shown and how provocatively it is shown. We add clothes underneath oftentimes and make the outfit work that way – or we go in a different direction and really encourage imagination.

          • Briggs says

            I hear you Bridge. I grew up in the NORTH. Halloween was way too cold for skimpy costumes. We went as beggars or gorillas or clowns because those costumes allowed layers. Apparently if you’re female, not only are you expected to be sexy earlier, your going to have to give up on practical weather-appropriate clothing as well.

    • Jon says

      3 yrs. old is the perfect time to start those frequent/brief conversations with your child. Start young… start now.

  2. says

    Brilliant. I have two daughters in college and you are so absolutely correct. We have to be pouring into them “… when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” In other words, just as you said – more often than we want. :) Thanks!

  3. Nancy Munce says

    This article is exactly why I follow you on Facebook and read your blog. You say the important things that we all need to be told in a way that makes sense with a little touch of urgency thrown in for good measure. Thank you!

  4. Krystal says

    As a mom of 6yr old and 3yr old boys and 1yr old daughter, I’m just entering this territory and I’m so scared! I think the hardest part is that “earlier than we want” thing…

  5. says

    Here’s a probing question: apart from the mere economic utility of it all, how does it strike you ethically that Sony’s marketing strategy (and many other companies) is to appeal to –tempt?– children in order to sell stuff to them?

    • says

      I don’t know about the ethics of it, but I do know that I am already trying to teach my 5 year old how marketing works. It’s scary to see how easily they buy into “needing” something just because of a commercial they see.

      • says

        I have a conversation at least once a week with my daughters about products they see on TV. Do you really need it? Does it really work that way? Is it really as important as you’ve been told? We talk about marketing all the time. It’s a great way to start the conversation about body image and stereotypes if they understand that what they’re being sold on TV is not necessarily reality.

      • NAGS says

        My kids had a unit on advertising in elementary school (public). They learned about marketing strategies that influenced their decisions in ways they did not even realize.

    • Clinton says

      Well, all that marketing and tempting that 6 year old to buy a pink stereo is really this: children and teens INFLUENCE the spending of millions of dollars…but it’s their parents’ dollars. We’re the ones spending that money

    • says

      Amazing that this post simultaneously demonstrates that your girls found a great alternative to the sexually driven female Halloween costumes we always see…and how powerful the effect of brand marketing is on young people that at 11 and 13 years old they want to spend Halloween as an Apple advertisement.

      Purity is certainly the better choice, and I’m not knocking their ideas – or Apple, loyal customer here. Still, I think you just illustrated Jon’s point about the culture coming for our kids better than he did.

    • ThoutfullyConservative says

      Derek, Please don’t let what Troy had to say put you off.

      While I’m sure he is well intentioned, I don’t think that it really applies to what your girls did.

      Our overconsumerized culture says buy it now, not make it yourself and take pride in your work. It says that products can do for you what you cannot do for yourself.

      Your girls defied this consumerism, even if they chose to go as gadgets. Now what would have been funny would have been if they had been gadgets in pink two-pieces with brown pigtails and surfboards, but something tells me the joke may be lost on anyone younger than 35, and probably most of them, too.

      • Tyler says

        Well said! While I do agree that marketing is having a massive effect on not only young people, but culture in general, the mere fact that they are making their own costumes is an opposition to our consumer driven society.

  6. Alex MacArthur says

    This makes me eager & slightly terrified to have kids at the same time. So many messages out there to coerce and manipulate them; I hope & plan my voice to be there first. Awesome message.

  7. Colette says

    Right on! We live in a world where parents don’t like to parent. My daughter thinks I’m a mean, unreasonable, super killjoy because I care what she wears, who she’s with and what she’s doing. Oh and, GASP, she has a curfew, too.

    • Shantel says

      Thank goodness for all the parents like you! My daughter has told me she hates me because I won’t buy her what “everyone else has”, but “everyone else “doesn’t pay the bills and doesn’t live in my house…

    • rebecca says

      Curfew…not a word thrown around often these days…its all about compromise and talking it thru.
      Im of older school values…kids have the right to be kids to enjoy they time they have as children.
      They also have expectactions as what is expected in way f helping out at home and how to conduct themselves when out. Curfew is something to stick to…or dont ask to go somewhere alone for a bit.
      Many of my friends told me I am far too strict on my kids…I chucked out the tv for 4yrs when my eldest went to an alternative school and I must say hs attitude was all the more better for it.
      No back chatting…we spent FAR more time being together…whether it be talking doing dinner or household chores or even both of us engrossed in lego for hours…but our favourite activity of all was going for long bike rides with a picnic lunch or dinner in back packs.
      Now my daughter is now 5…time for the tv to go to the shed for a cpl yrs at least…that way I am able to have far ml re infpinfluence and voice to kmy child.
      My eldest now 19 is buying his first home works full time and studying…so hasn’t been in detriment to him in any way…he picks ip his sister once a week for a few hours at his house and dinner and has dinner with us at least once a week. So I did something right.

  8. says

    Jon, you are dead on. We raised two boys who grew up to marry great gals and we are very proud of them today. But it is because we took the time to invest in those “many” conversations throughout the years. So important! Thanks for all you sharing.

  9. says

    Amen Jon. As a dad with two daughters as well, this hits near and dear to my heart. I read through Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters after reading your recommendation about it. Wow. It changed the way I think about my interactions and influences on them. They’re only 6 and 4 right now, but already I can see pop culture creeping into their brains. I don’t want Sony or Apple or Mattel or any company to have a bigger influence on them than myself, my wife, and God.

    It’s good to know there are other dads fighting that same fight with me.

  10. says

    It’s especially hard trying to “undo” the influences of a life led before us. As a parent to two girls adopted in their early teens, we’ve had to open a lot of frank conversations about the influence of culture and how we become what we are surrounded by. Great lesson.

  11. says

    I have four children, my oldest is 9. She wants to be a vampire this year. We looked at the costumes and picked the least.. inappropriate one. Thankfully, she is the biggest prude all on her own. Not that I am not encouraging her to be modest, but she is extremely concerned with what is and is not acceptable. I love it.

    My silly 6 year old daughter is going to be Darth Princess. And she is going to ROCK it. She is such an unusual and fun kid.

    My 4 year old is easy, he wants to be spiderman, he even voluntarily went for the cheaper costume. Score for Momma!!

    The baby is only 1, he is wearing a BEWARE I BITE shirt. It’s true. I am simply advertising facts.

    As a parent, I hope that even if we weren’t spiritual we would be annoyed by the “sexy” costumes. As a larger woman, I gotta say, knowing my only options are monk and buxom peasant is frustrating at best.

    Thankfully, I’m raising some precious little Jesus Geeks and am likely to get many more years of Star Wars Star Trek, craziness out of them. (Praying!!)

    • Jodi says

      Oh, Dawn! You made me laugh. I have four kids (three girls, one boy) and we are total, convention-attending nerds. My two oldest daughters’ first costumes were jedi. This year, my oldest is out of the house so who knows? My second-oldest will be wearing a formal gown over a morph suit just because. My son and youngest daughters are cosplaying from their favorite webcomic. I have never had to deal with the “sexy” outfits, because dress-up and accuracy are a wonderful thing about geekery. (Oh and I hear ya on the monk/buxom peasant thing.)

  12. says

    My siblings and I joke about our parents parsing every television show, book, song, toy, and advertisement that came our way and making us analyze the world view it was coming from.

    We tease them that we couldn’t even watch an episode of Star Trek without having a discussion on humanism – it probably wasn’t EVERY episode, but we do all remember those discussions.

    It annoyed the snot out of us and it embarrassed us in front of our friends, but our parents never let the world control the conversation. They never let us mindlessly consume culture. And now they have adult kids who are as obnoxiously thoughtful about the world around them as their parents always meant them to be.

  13. says

    My son is in second grade. Last night at bed time he told me his counselor said to their class that at age 18 is when you can choose to smoke cigarettes and at age 21 is when you can choose to drink alcohol or wine. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard my son say the words alcohol and wine! He’s only 8!!

    I asked him if the counselor mentioned that they shouldn’t do these things even though they have the choice to do so. He told me she was just telling them that this is the age where they can make these choices. Eventually in the conversation he said she told them she was sure no one in their class would take up those habits. So fortunately I had the opportunity to have a voice at that very moment and explain our values to him.

    I saw a piece of his innocence disappear last night. He’s only 8.

  14. Kate says

    Amen! As a physical therapist, I have seen too many young girls, whether in school or in clinic, with body issues from our social pressure to be perfect and beautiful. Psalm 139 is clear that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and that is what we celebrate in my house! Healthy choices are what we stress while we keep social pressure filled magazines out of our home. Our four year old daughter is active in gymnastics and lacrosse and has chosen to be Spider-Man for Halloween. She can be and do anything!

  15. says

    YES! YES! YES! YES!

    People think my husband & I are crazy for not watching TV or letting our girls play with Monster High dolls. But we are actively guarding our daughters’ minds & innocence today, because while a 2-year old in a bikini is kind of cute, she’s going to grow up & won’t understand why at the age of 13, it’s suddenly not appropriate for her to wear one.

    We don’t think big picture. And we must.

    • says

      Yes, yes, Lori Danielle! It seems that many parents miss that we are raising children to become adults – hopefully kind, respectful, hard-working, and more – not simply raising {cute} children. Irrelevant to you, but I am proud of your against-the-grain, intentional choices!

    • says

      I too am careful with the types of toys as well as shows I allow my children to interact with. I don’t like Monster High or Bratz dolls because of the provocative clothing and the overtly done up makeup.
      Even Disney channel has left me disappointed in the way they portray children’s behavior towards their parents and teachers. I have to make sure to explain why that behavior isn’t appropriate and it disturbs me as I know it leads to so many kids acting disrespectfully to their elders. Not to mention the way the dress and how early on they think they need boyfriends and girlfriends. Why on earth does any child under the age of say 15 NEED a boyfriend/girlfirend?
      It seems cliche to blame the media, but as Jon said, we need to have a voice from the beginning otherwise someone else with less morals and standards will speak for us.

  16. catherine says

    Amen. Deuteronomy 6! As a preschool minstry director my goal was to reach them there so that when they were youth their parents weren’t throwing up their hands in defeat. Unfortunately I found it tough to get some parents to recognize that they, not the church, were the primary spiritual leaders for their kids. Modesty discussions need to start at 4–not 14.

  17. says

    So true…not only the cartoon, but the larger problems it represents. Fish don’t think they’re wet, and I think our culture is like that too, we become unaware of it’s presence sometimes. Our kids need protecting & guidance because we know FOR CERTAIN that our culture isn’t going to do it for us.

    That and we stay out of the costume aisle.

  18. Damon says

    So Good! I’m a father of 3, 2 Boys and Girl. They are amazing! With my daughter, everyday is a new adventure, she is in middle school and each day she has some many questions about things she has heard at school. My wife and I want to be the one who shares with our children, not a stranger. We have had to have many more conversations at 11 then we ever thought! We have cut Internet and Cable off at our house, so we are not tempted and can have conversation! God Bless

  19. Julie says

    Yes! This is exactly why I never allowed a television in the car. You have a captive audience to talk, laugh, debate or just listen to,what they say to each other. My kids are now 20, 18 & 16 when we are all at the dinner table there are no phones, no TV, just us and we will sit there for hours talking and laughing. Don’t miss the opportunity!

  20. Kari says

    My late Uncle Doug used to always ask his little girls one question, “What makes a girl pretty?” And he taught them the answer, “Jesus in her heart.”

    • 25 years old says

      Kids are smarter than people think. At the age of one they already know how you’ll react to their actions… At the age of two they know how to control you… at the age of three they know exactly what is right, what is wrong, what is bad and what is good. Because they’ve been testing you and observing what they can and can not get away with. What is allowed and what is not.

      Kids still keep observing as they get older but your voice, actions, approval, disapproval, and your authority plays a big roll when they are young. Parents are the ones that they look to for approval. Little ones are not clueless.

      If they respect you at the age of three I don’t think they will disrespect you or want to disapoint you when they become a teen or adult.

      You shouldn’t shelter your children from the world. You should do your job as parents and teach them morals, manners and respect… then they will make right decisions because they’ve been taught not sheltered. So yes speak to them early!

      Sheltering your children is never a good idea…then they don’t know how to processes all this new shit they’ve never heard of before or seen before.

      • Christie says

        The problem with the term “sheltering” is that it is often confused with “protecting”. Children are always to be protected. That means that they should not have to deal with or see or process things that are beyond their years and ability to understand. The goal is the protection of innocence. No child looks at death or injury or even shoving on the playground and is confused as to whether or not it is good or bad. Raise children with the good the true and the beautiful and they will recognize the bad the false and the ugly every time. Raise them with all of that and it gets confusing.

        I am fighting this culture tooth and nail, even in my own house. (My husband sees no issue with our daughters and a bikini etc). Six children are six souls. My job is to get them to heaven. Please God, give me the grace to get them started on the right path and not confuse them with what is not of Your making.

  21. says

    It’s a tight corner we’re pushed into. We must talk about respect and honor for our bodies which happens by covering them up without telling our kids that their bodies are shameful. We spend a ridiculous amount of time talking about this with our girls because the messages to be sexy are so pervasive. An important battle line as well is Mom. I can do a lot of talking, but if I’m not choosing to be not only modest but also attractively dressed, I will lose a lot of battle ground. If the only talking I do about my body is how much I don’t like this part or that part, my daughters will also grow up to hate their bodies. Our relationship with our kids is so important.

  22. says

    My kids are 19 and 15. Whatever success we have had as parents is because we have talked with out kids from an early age about hard and difficult things. It has made all the difference in the world.

  23. says

    I have seven amazing adult children and hey all laugh at this phenomenon. As teenagers, they noticed it before I did. I have learned never to judge other parents. However, I do wonder what is going through their heads as they promote this kind of thing? This “parenting by suggestion” phenomenon is concerning to me.
    Many polls have determined that the person(s) most influential in a child’s life is mom and/or dad. Even though it doesn’t seem like it , but is true even into the teen years.

  24. Aaron Patton says

    As a youth minister, this also bums me out over Halloween. Even the most conservative girls are tempted to be risqué for a Halloween party. As unnoticed as they may go the rest of the year, that boy they’re interested in is definitely not going to notice them at the party among all the other “festively” dressed girls.
    Standards. Self worth.

  25. alexis says

    As a 17 year old teenage girl, graduated and about to begin life on my own, I agree with this post. I was blessed to be raised by involved Godly parents who set very open with me on right and wrong and did not miss out on teaching oppertunities. Parents, do not let the world mold your child. Be involved in your CHILD’S life. And your TEEN, will look to you for guidance and will respect you. And lastly, point them to God. Because let’s face it, you don’t have it all figured out anymore then I do. God bless.

  26. Tony says

    This is great. I want my daughter to know as well where true self worth and love is found. If we don’t love our children the right way, someone else will love them the wrong way.

  27. Linda says

    It is true, one of the top truths I tried to instill in my granddaughters is that you don’t advertise what you don’t what to sell (offer)…my girls love to dress up for Halloween (now 13 & 16 years of age) but are careful of what their costumes are showing, saying etc, and my girls are now free to choose/design their costumes and they still involve me in how they look

  28. Katy says

    I have two girls. Twice as important as what I say – as a mom…is what my husband says – as a dad.

    The way dad treats them shows them how a respectful, loving man behaves.

    When my 6 year old came home with a mummy costume last night – dad gushed and told her how scarey she’s going to be (which is what she wanted). When my 9 year old layered her Cat costume over leggings and long-sleeved t-shirt with patent leather boots – he told her how “cool” she looked – (which was exactly what she wanted).

    It matters. Dad’s matter. A lot.

    • says

      Katy, this touches my heart! The significance of how dads intentionally love their daughters just cannot be conveyed enough. Kudos to you both for parenting intentionally!

  29. Jill says

    As a mom of 5 kids from 20 to 6 years old, I think it is also important to remember to not overreact out loud with our kids to the conversations society is starting. If our kids tell us something that they heard and we jump right on how wrong it is before we show them respect by listening to their viewpoint, we run the risk of turning them off as fringe lunatics. If we TELL them what to think about these things (I am speaking about when they are pre/teen years) instead of showing them that we trust them with the values we have raised them with, they will resent it and we will lose credibility….and worse…we will our invitation to be in the conversation. BUT….if we ask their opinions and keep the conversation going with genuine interest, we maintain the privilege of being able to speak into their lives. We have found with our kids, when they have brought controversial conversations to the table (sometimes, quite literally, the dinner table!), if we give them the time and respect to voice their thoughts, we find out they really do believe what we have taught them, they are just looking for a safe place to talk out the questions they have. Great article! Kids are never too young for us to have discussions with or for us to LISTEN to them!

  30. BW says

    When should I have this conversation? I have a 6 year old daughter. My wife and I have done a pretty good job protecting her from the identity this world would try to give her but I know that it’s a matter of time before the veil comes off and we have to show her what this world would have her be so that she can recognize it make the right choice. How do I prepare her for that without introducing it to her to early?

    • 25 years old says

      What would the world have her be? What ever it is your worried about in this world that has such an influential pull on your daughter don’t let it influence you into believing that that is how she’ll turn out.

      If she has loving parents she respects and looks up to and can talk to about her thoughts, issue’s, concerns, and any queations(with out getting judged, yelled at, or just told that its wrong, bad, etc.) then she’ll talk and let you in on who she is.
      This allows her to be opinionated… if you don’t like her opinion… give her OTHER opinions and THEN mention your opinion. (don’t force it on her to think your way)
      She will change her mind on stuff because she would rather have your approval.  

      To answer you question. Its not to early if she already know things. Ask her what her opinion is on matter that your concerned about… if nothing and is all still sugar and rainbows… she’s not ready for the talk

    • Mrs.Princess says

      My approach with all 4 of my children has been to ask A Lot of open and honest questions with the intent to listen and seep in condemnation. Take for example Halloween. ‘What do your friends want to be for Halloween?’ ‘What do you think about that?’ ‘I love so and so’s costume from last year. It was so fun, and clever. I love that it was modest and not distracting.’ I point out what I liked about something or someone and don’t focus on the parts I didn’t like or don’t like.
      We talk about their friends choices and how things could’ve worked out based on different circumstances. I always approach with out criticism to the other people but do offer up a dialogue and my opinions in a general way. I want to be the voice in my child’s head that pop’s in and helps with their ability to reason through a situation. Of course I’d like for them to feels the Lord’s guidance, but sometimes, while they are young, they can associate my voice with that positive Godly direction.

  31. says

    “It’s not whether your kids will have a conversation about the world they live in, it’s whether you’ll have a voice in it.”

    I totally agree. I work with young people and I see all too often that parents are not talking to their kids about things. And then when we do, they get upset.

  32. Tim Shea says

    This SO true, I also have daughters 18,16 &12 and thanks to ther mom’s and I’s work and of course the leading of GOD they have a very good sence of modesty.

  33. Robin Malcolm says

    Great word today. Thanks!
    As a children’s pastor and foreign missionary, we are often asked by parents for advice on talking to their kids about sex. In a cross-cultural context this is a tough question to answer, but the basic principle is the same; talk to your kids before the world starts talking to them.

  34. says

    My son was a tiger and other animals as a little little boy. He quickly determined that he knew his seasons by sports in addition to sun, temperature, buds, leaf color – so he chose to be a baseball player, German soccer player. When he was 6 he sewed the straight seams of his Luke Skywalker costume on a sewing machine. He wore his hair long, so he looked authentic as a hippie. He was a colonial boy after reading Felicity books, and Harry Potter before most of his peers knew who Harry Potter was. All his costumes were homemade. He’s 26 now, goes to consignment stores for his “costumes”, and is too busy to sew anything (although he knows how:). His strengths have always been character, sportsmanship, humor, and he was chosen captain of three of his teams. He is now a tutor/ mentor/ coach in a national urban youth squash program.

  35. Jay says

    Easy way to NOT see those options in stores anymore – STOP buying them. The stores will get the point and stop making them. It is all about supply and demand.

    DEMAND other options – more appropriate options for your kids. And set an example… by not wearing them yourself.

  36. Mrs. Rod says

    Having that conversation doesn’t always need to be verbal. I’m the mother of two, both now adults. One son and one daughter.

    I am, and have been their entire lives, obese. Healthy – no high blood pressure, no diabetes, mobile, etc., – but obese. While I dress respectfully when going out in public, and make sure my hair is combed, and I wash my face, exfoliate, and moisturize, I don’t wear make-up. Obscenities escape my mouth only when I’m extremely angry – and never directed at my children, husband, or friends. Really, that kind of anger is reserved for uncooperative computers and idiot drivers. Even at the current ages of my children, we are very picky about what movies and tv shows we will watch/allow. Our children have never seen us drunk, my husband has never lifted a hand against me, we don’t call each other names. The list could go on. Believe me, we are far from perfect parents, but here’s a quick look at how our children have turned out:

    Man-boy has an incredible work ethic, but understands the importance of relaxing and playing. He does not take relationships lightly so will not date a girl until he’s gotten to know her, and feels there is the potential for a lasting relationship. While, like any guy, he likes to look at pictures of girls in skimpy bikinis, he wouldn’t date a girl based on her body or looks, but on her mind and soul. He does not like women who use a lot of make-up.

    Both kids have healthy body images. Daughter was chunky during early adolescence, but has since lost that ‘baby fat.’ She did that through healthy eating and exercise, not starvation or fad diets. She also avoids superficial relationships. She does where some make-up, but very little, only enough to highlight her features. I wish her clothes were not so skimpy, but she chooses clothes which give her freedom of movement, not how sexy they make her look (though skimpy, they are never tight or form fitting).

    Please note, I am not criticizing anyone who wears make-up. If you can apply it with an even hand, and not look like a clown, I envy you. I can’t, which is the only reason I don’t wear it. My point is only that the unintentional result of my ineptitude in that area, as well as being overweight, was for both my kids to be able to look past the physical, and care more about getting to know the person.

  37. says

    That cartoon is so accurate. I went into party city with my 15 year old brother (I hadn’t been into one of those in probably 10 years) and that’s exactly what the costume wall looked like. I asked his girlfriend if the only options for us were sexy costumes, and then she pointed to one that was gender neutral… I guess? It was a giant gorilla suit. That’s our option. Slutty Nurse or Giant Monkey.

  38. says

    We have a son and a daughter. I think the key here is to teach our SON that the girls who are only concerned with looks and being “sexy” are not the girls to go after and to teach our DAUGHTER that the costumes on the left side of the cartoon are for her, too!

    Or, my husband can dress in HIS “sexy” beer keg costume, as he’s threatened to do!

  39. Lindsay says

    I have 2 girls (7 &1) and 1 boy (3) and one unknown on the way. We have chosen to homeschool for this exact reason. My husband and I were raised in church, but had to find God when we got married (or rather, He grabbed hold of us and shook us until we acknowledged Him!). Why would I do that to my kids? Why would I allow schools to give the world a head start when I can be training them at home the whole time? Why does teaching our kids truth get marginalized to Sundays and dinner time? Who do you think will win when you only teach truth a few hours a week and the schools and peers teach ‘the world’ the rest of the time? No head start. No foothold.

  40. Bruce says

    I can still remember the jingle for the “My First Sony” line of children’s devices from when I was between 5 and 7 years old, twenty two plus years ago. And with that, I remember all kinds of odd advice my mother told me at that age, though it was completely irrelevant and confusing at the time. Children are incredibly impressionable, and its never too early to start the conversations.

  41. M N says

    What does anyone expect when they farm out every last thing to corporations? My mom didn’t need to worry about what xyz-mart was telling my sister about her body at a young age because we didn’t have a store-bought costume until we were almost too old to trick-or-treat.

    The bottom line is that firms produce what people buy. This is not a dichotomy between what message we’re giving our kids and what message they’re giving our kids; clearly thousands of people buy the sexy costume.

  42. JJ says

    This is why I am glad that your blog is back. Thank you for giving us wisdom to consider, in a package that is understandable by anyone.

    While I don’t have kids yet, I can see this in my own life. Ignoring the obvious doesn’t hide the obvious.

    Welcome back!

  43. says

    No doubt the early objectification of girls/women is a legitimate problem with Halloween – but let’s be honest the REAL problem with Halloween continues to be the unyielding persistence of bad candy giving.

    Necco wafers, black licorice, Mallo cups, any old timey candy wrapped in wax paper…these are the true bane of Halloween….

  44. Brandon says

    I agree. I had a boss a few hears back who had raised two great daughters. He said the key was date nights. He went on date nights with them of them every month. Listen to what their troubles were and gave them advice. He said that 30 years later his daughters will call him up and ask for a date night. I have three daughters and I love my date nights. This is one of my first steps to being awesome.

  45. says

    Thanks for this. I wish more parents realized exactly what you expressed. It’s not about “sheltering” our kids; it’s about being the most important voice in the sea of voices around them.

    I needed this reminder.

  46. says

    Thanks Jon. The comic strikes me as slightly humerous, and then I’m immediately struck with the sad truth of it. Our culture sexualizes our daughters so early, and often the church just plays along. It’s so hard to be different, but so very important.

  47. says

    Good post. Hopefully I’m not too late on this one but I’m aggressively teaching my 2 boys how to be über respectful of both their mother and their sisters. Nothing irks me more than disrespectful guys towards women!

  48. Tammie T says

    As a parent who lived the “communicate through every visual, every movie, song, conversation” philosophy, from the time they started crawling, it’s interesting to see this. There is no evidence that I communicate “too much, too early”.
    I am very proud of my sons, I think they are fantastic, independent, smart, focused, successful men. And the decisions they make today started with the information discussed when they were small.
    Did they always agree with me….thank goodness NO, but the information Their father and I anted to them to have was there, generally, before the information of others. Input is critical.
    I learned it from my own family, where the dinner table as a family, was a safe place to ask anything. And I mean anything. Give your children input even before they ask. But TALK to them. Interact WITH them. No lectures! Listen to them as open and honestly as you want them to listen to you.
    My opinion: if you shield them, you make them vulnerable to others opinions before we as parents set the ground floor.
    Thanks Jon Acuff !!

  49. Lisa says

    So true! It amazes me how people don’t see this as truth. Your infant might look cute in a little baby bikini, but unless you don’t mind your 16 year old traipsing around the water park in one, don’t do it! We as parents set the tone at a very early age. Set a standard for modesty and puritity, and pray it gets deep in their souls and sticks for life. Dana Gresh is a great resource for parents of girls!

    • Lisa says

      I should also probably mention that this will be the first time my girls 19,17, & 14 ever go out on Halloween. We sat under some very strict beliefs for all of their growing up years till we realized we can be more of a witness of God’s gracious goodness to our neighbors being out and about than hiding in our home with the lights out! They’ve never even asked to go trick or treating until this year.

  50. Nikki Moore says

    Thanks for the reminder. I have 5 wonderful kids that I try so hard to train, but I know I often skip over the awkward conversations in the store aisles because I am naively hoping that they don’t really know what they are seeing. This was a good wake up call though. I don’t want the world telling my kids what to think, feel, or believe.

  51. says

    Do they really make “sexy” Halloween costumes for kids? Wow. Not having kids means I’m out of the loop on stuff like that. What a sick society we’ve become, if so. Well, even if not so – I’m not that far out of the loop. You keep inspiring us, Jon and we’ll keep reading. And then some. God bless you on whatever this new direction brings!

    • Nikki says

      They really do. They may not be labeled as sexy, but they make midriff-revealing belly dancer costumes (ala Princess Jasmine) and costumes with super short skirts or tutus that would definitely be considered sexy on someone 10 years older.

  52. Amanda says

    I’m 27, no kids. I hated having all these convos with my parents. “Seriously mom, I just don’t care.” is something I said all too often. To this day I still hear the words of my parents loud and clear. Almost everything they have ever taught me, I remember. It’s weird how you wake up one day and realize this.

  53. says

    I love this!! Just this morning God impressed upon my heart the need to debunk cultural myths that our children/teens stumble over and help parents know how to dispel them and nurture their hearts with scripture. Which fits in with my platform to help parents cultivate a legacy of faith. I hadn’t considered the cultural cultivating that happens!! Thank you for sharing this.

  54. Larry Youngren says

    I am submitting this post as an empty nester that someday will have grandchildren (yikes). The world view seems so intrusive and persuasive compared to when I was a child in the 50’s and 60’s. gone are the days when a bible study could use current TV shows like Andy Griffith to teach biblical principles. Today’s parents face so many challenges and obstacles even from what appears to be innocent beginnings – children books, TV programming, toys, etc. My wife and I needed to undo what was learned at daycare, preschool or regular school – whether is was taught by well meaning adults or the kid’s peers. We had to be aware that we walked the talk and talked the walk. Halloween is the beginning of this difficult season but does it really end with Christmas? Parents is a 365/24/7 job that needs age appropriate and loving conversation and action plan.

    Proverbs. 22:6 – 6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

  55. Ray says

    My wife and I have made some interesting decisions on how our family will live on the premise that if you raise up a child in the way they should go they hopefully will not depart from it even in this over whelming world of today, It is not what everybody can or will do, it does work for us.

    We gave up television programming in our home many years ago. If there is a show or movie we wish to see, it shows up in the library within a few months of its release. Yes we watch NCIS and and even just watched the first two seasons of Duck Dynasty. However, there are no nasty or heavy sales pitch commercials, We save at least twelve hundred dollars a year. We are not tempted to watch things which are not appropriate for our hearts and minds. And we are not worshipping the one-eyed god at a set time every week. We choose when we wish to watch something, and do it as a family.

    Now I know that some who read this are going to jump on a high horse about how we are horrible parents because we do not conform to whatever criteria they believe in. Yet hopefully it can help some see other ways.

    My son at thirteen and my daughter was twelve helped me do a home remodel. We took a good portion of the earnings and purchased computer components including 32 inch monitors and they built their own computers and installed Linux on them. There was one slight caveat to this. They learned to build a computer and load software, but then they had much nicer computers to do their school work on.

    We do homeschool. My oldest son at twelve was doing college math. My children as they are able help in our business and understand cottage industry in a info tech world.

    Our Internet service is at our shop, not in our home. We have time to play games with our children of an evening at the kitchen table.

    We are blessed that our church is only a few blocks away. We walk to church as a family.

    There is one thread here to my narrative. As a family we do most things together. Oh yes, some will say that we are stifling our children. Actually they have active social lives outside the family. We do expect to know where they are and who they are with because we are responsible for them, however part of growing up is growing out too.

    Not everyday is peachy keen, life is sometimes difficult. Most days though are very good.

  56. Shantel says

    It’s not only Halloween. It is sad day when I have to go to 8 different stores to find shorts that aren’t too short for my 9 year old daughter to wear to school…and I feel that they are still too short. What are we as a society teaching our children when they wear scantily clad clothing beginning in 2nd grade? It’s absolutely disgusting.

  57. Kristen says

    As a freshman in college 12 years ago (wow, that kind of makes me feel old), I attended a huge on-campus Halloween party. Being a poor college student, I searched the thrift stores and came up with an original and cheap costume idea – an oompa loompa. I was excited to attend the party and show off my cool costume. You can imagine my surprise as I found myself surrounded by Victoria Secrets “angels.” I was shocked and appalled by what I saw. . .young college girls parading around in next to nothing with boys drooling over them. It was sad to me then and still now, that these young women felt that had to show all to get attention (the wrong kind of attention).didn’t stay long.

  58. Brenda says

    My mom always said that you should answer any question your children ask about ‘sex’ when they ask them—on their level. Example when your little one wants to know what a ‘penis’ is tell them. Don’t tell them we don’t use that word. It only makes them think it must be something really interesting and they need to ask someone else. It has worked with both my children.

  59. says

    Great post! I was just thinking some of these same things as I watched my 3-year-old daughter and her excitement over her Tinkerbell costume. I’m pretty sure, the “sexy fairy” variety seen on college campuses contains the same amount of fabric.

    It’s a great reminder for me as a father to repeatedly tell my daughter her “worth is far above jewels.” (Proverbs 31:10). We need to raise daughters who show themselves the respect they deserve and sons who don’t fit the worldly caricature. Having one of each, I’ve got my work cut out for me. Parenting is not easy. In fact, it’s probably the toughest thing we’ll ever do. And, that’s why we need our Heavenly Father to help us. Thanks for your inspiration, Jon.

  60. Donna Enskaitis says

    Many ways of loving your kids. One, giving them what they want; second giving what they need; and third explaining the difference. Loving them and telling them that they’re the best, is a must. Remember too, that to your little one, you’re one of a kind and irreplaceable.
    Myliu

  61. Mrs.Princess says

    Realizing there are many comments to wade through here, but I believe their is an element so many people neglect to associate with this very common trend in our society.
    How many women do you know that have gotten augment surgery? How many women do you know are on a diet or workout at the gym religiously? How many women do you know talk about how they look, spend a lot of money on clothing, and spend a lot of time/money or beauty regimens or products?
    There’s a reason the media, retail stores, and online outlets target women. Most, if not all of us, are or have been vain or guilty of vanity.
    If people want their daughters and sons to not be affected by this trend, then women/mothers need to step forward and guide the movement.
    Appropriate exercise and nutrition affect the health and beauty that all women are striving for.
    If we want women and families less affected by the various ‘influences’, then it necessary to stop the vanity addiction.

  62. Rocksana says

    I always wonder, when everybody agrees, why does nothing change? why does everyone stil buy the stereotype pink toy for girls (obvious dolls) and all stereo-type blue toys for boys.

    I remember a situation parents buying a new school-bag for a little girl. sche was standing in front of some backs, which were NOT pink with fairys en disney princess. And what did the parents do? They pushed her away and told her. no not these one. They are for boys. Look here are the ones for girls. My inner me was screaming!

    I have a little girl too. She loves loves loves blue. And she likes playing with dolls AND with cars. And i really hope it will stay like that. But everytime she gets a present from s.o. else, – s.o. who doesn’t really think about who she really is – i see shes loosing i bit ofit….

  63. says

    Absolutely correct. Just yesterday I scoured store aisles looking for a costume my 5-year-old daughter really wants. She wants to be Rapunzel and the price tag was $40. I was truly shocked, as many parents are at the sex-focused approach to toddler and young kid costumes. “Naughty Alice in Wonderland” is not what I have in mind for my kid. I purchased a 6 dollar wig, and I went to the resale shop and got her a beautiful dress for 4.75. She cried because it’s not the “official” Disney one. I explained to her that she has to be her own kind of princess and that no one else in the world will have a costume like hers. She is now a happy camper. Little kids these days and their parents are experiencing a whole lot of pressure. We also have the power to stop it.

  64. says

    Thanks so much, Jon. Wonderful reminder. The movie “Miss Representation” is a documentary on the way our culture speaks to girls. It’s difficult to watch, but I was glad I saw it. I went into the movie thinking I already knew about the problem … but the movie showed me areas where I needed to have conversations I hadn’t thought of yet.
    I have 3 girls and a boy. Grateful for your reminder today. Thank you!

  65. says

    My kids are 18, 16, and 14. Because I’ve been able to home school them, it’s been a lot easier to discuss the world often, from a Biblical perspective. Even though their dad rejected his faith and left when they were 4, 2, and 6 months, my children have retained a strong faith. We’ve always watched movies together, read, listened to sermons and the radio, and discussed things. Focusing on the heart, rather than trying to control the external surroundings, is the key.
    And I pray like crazy.

  66. Roberts says

    Children are indoctrinated with all forms of poison from the public School system. Peer pressure, Government manifesto’s being propagated to the youth “big Government control = good, individualism = bad” and anything prayer based is strictly forbidden, laughed at and ridiculed. Proper parenting time and Spiritual studies have taken a long far back seat to commercialization of products, social gadgets and more “education” posing as the cool and in thing to do which is diametrically inverse to spiritual guidance. Even Disney is in on the game. (Look at the adults coming out of the Disney empire as entertainers) Parents are required to work more hours to pay for all of this Government control therefore taking time away from parenting and proper guidance. The planned quagmire is full on. Do a search for Common Core lessons for third graders. Wake up people.

  67. patrick says

    the original post was a bucket of awesome. the comments, not so much. Thank you Jon for this very important reminder/wakeup call for parents….especially parents of young girls.

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