keeping a 'tween' young

oldfashionedgirlJuly 7, 2008

My older DD is 7 yrs, her younger sister 5 yrs. As we enter the "tween" years with the 7 yr old, I am wondering if others have had success keeping their kids "young" meaning still interested in toys/books/movies/TV geared toward kids rather than all the "tween-focused" media that seems to me to be aimed at moving kids from acting like 6 year olds to acting like 16 year olds overnight. We do not have cable/satellite, which has helped, since my kids have only the faintest clue about Hannah Montana, High School Musical, Cheetah Girls, etc. I am not a "girly" person, myself so nail polish and makeup aren't around the house for the most part, and I buy all her clothes, and she doesn't care too much what I get. I know that many of her friends are more exposed to the shows/music/etc that I am trying to avoid for a while, at least. It hasn't been a problem, but I want to have some more ideas on how to keep it from being a problem for as long as possible. Especially because once she gets into this stuff, her sister will be into it as well, and I don't need a 5 year old who thinks she is 16! Anyone else worried about this issue or have you dealt with it successfully?

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My DD is 8. We do have DirecTV, so she has access to the shows that encourage girls her age to act older. Hannah Montana and Disney's HS Musical are marketed to girls DD's age, but feature teens. I don't like it. She doesn't watch them.

I skip a lot of birthday parties, only send her to the ones I know the moms and know it won't be a teen-themed party. I've never given her Barbie dolls or Brats, I give her dolls that look like her. So she is not playing with fashion and shopping and accessorizing.

She is a gymnast and takes it seriously. Right now she's in the gym 7 hours a week, it will be more next year. I think having a sport she likes keeps her from making material things a hobby.

From her friends/peers who are acting like young teens already, it doesn't seem to me like it comes from nowhere. The parents encourage it by getting into those older teen things with their daughters. They bond with their daughters over teen-girl things. The common interests DD and I share are books. I take her to the library and bookstore just to hangout with me.

Some of it, though, is just her personality. And I think a little of that is her place in the family line up, the 3rd child and only girl. Her older brothers, especially, keep her tomboyish in order to compete with them on tree climbing and video games. She is not exposed to teen girl things, and sees those things made fun of by her brothers. So she doesn't dare try them! LOL.

I think in a couple years it will get harder with DD. She is only just barely tempted now, so it's hard to say she resists the temptations. 5th and 6th grade will be ever so much harder as the girls start to look like teenagers then, even though they aren't quite there emotionally.

I was talking about this with a friend of mine with young daughters a couple years ago. She cracked me up when she told me her top strategy: Organic milk! She figures it will be easier if she delays puberty as long as possible. Well, I laughed, but I started serving DD organic dairy foods, too. Just in case.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 10:10PM
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Hmmm... my DD is 8 years old and loves Hannah Montana (and likes HSM). It doesn't make her a bad kid! I actually think Miley Cirus is a very talented comedic actress.

Now I do not let her watch Zoey 101 or That's So Raven because they do have sassy teenagers on those shows.

Anyhow, I think the thing to remember is you are the boss -- you decide what your child watches and how they dress. My DD happens to love fashion and make-up -- that is who she is. It does not mean I buy her the clothes she wants or let her wear make-up. She likes to say how she loves the store Limited Too and the only thing she has ever gotten from there is a sweater from the clearance rack!

I do think you posed a great question and will love to hear other answers!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 11:48PM
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I think it really helps if children are involved in some activity like sports, dancing or animals. Something they love that keeps them busy.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 8:54AM
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My daughter is now 16 years old, not an elementary school child anymore, but when she was in the 4th grade her teacher did comment (meant as a compliment) in a conversation that my daughter was not "worldly", meaning she wasn't into music with nasty lyrics, she dressed appropriately, etc.

When she was younger, I didn't have cable tv and I limited the amount of tv time my kids could spend. I explained why to my kids, and emphasized the need to exercise their imaginations and play outside.

I put her in a fair number of activities. Whatever she was interested in within reason that was wholesome, I let her try. Ballet, gymnastics, year round swimming, etc. During the summer I kept my kids busy with chores, reading, math activities, and they spent most of the days at the pool. She loved animals and I let her try all kinds of pets - aquariums, turtles, frogs, snakes, spiders, and of course a cat and dog.

I took a tactic from the government and subsidized the wholesome activities. For example, if they bought a book I paid for half. Many times in middle school they were choosing between something I thought was good for them vs. something neutral, they choose the "good for you" option because mom was paying for half.

My husband and I also didn't watch much tv or listen to regular pop radio, and that helped a lot.

My daughter loved fashion and makeup, and that was fine with me. She preferred to pick her own clothes from the time she was 3 or 4, and we let her. She went through a stage at maybe 5 years old of picking out clothes that looked trashy, but I said no. I used our shopping times together as "teachable moments", explaining why certain choices were inappropriate. If she wanted a particularly vile, unflattering shade of pink instead of a tasteful, little girl pink, fine, I bit my lip and let her buy it. But I said no to hooker styles. My daughter now has beautiful taste. I also let her wear all the makeup she wanted at home, but she couldn't wear it to school until middle school (and then it had to be understated and tasteful). Now she rarely wears makeup, and when she does it's so light I can't tell.

The biggest thing I did with my daughter - I tried to set our lives up so that I could say yes as much as possible, but say no when I needed to. She didn't see me as a "strict" mom (except for grades) because I let her do so many things. She has snow skied, water skied, jet skied, kayaked, sailed, rock climbed, mountain biked, backpacked, played paintball, shot rifles and pistols, danced, been a cheerleader, done gymnastics, has a brown belt in tae kwon do, swims like a fish and plays the violin like an angel.

Now that she is 16, she does listen to popular music, and some of the lyrics are not what I'd like. But she is a very , very good teenager and I'm proud of her.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 9:28AM
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Good tips everyone, thank you! I am expecting a baby girl this fall and am already worrying about raising a girl.

Right now, with my 3-year-old son, we are worrying about his exposure to violence. He doesn't watch tv (although his dad likes to watch CNN, I try to encourage DH to keep the TV off). I'm not interested in getting him involved with various characters (one friend's son is really into "teen titans" at 3 years old, which I personally think is too young -- although this boy is a wonderful kid). My son's cousin, also 3, has an older brother and has already learned phrases like, "I shoot you in the eyeball." The older brother is 8, and plays lots of video games, Halo, etc., as do all his friends. We don't plan on buying any video games or handhelds. Just a personal thing of mine and thankfully, my husband agrees. It's tough when the parents struggle with different opinions.

I'm not saying that if your kid plays video games, he's "bad." I know lots of wonderful kids that do. Just that for our family, that is our feeling of how to raise our child. I just want him to keep his innocence a little longer, even though I know outside friends and family will expose him to various things. Which is all fine. But I think the family should be a safe harbor from the world sometimes.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 1:06PM
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I second everything daisy said.

Encourage a variety of interests and activities and limit television. The easiest way to do that is have only one set in the house, and not let them watch anything you wouldn't sit and watch with them. And whenever you can, volunteer to help; at their school, at their church, at their dance recital, at the 4H meeting, the county fair, the playday arena, and for local charities. It shows them you are interested willing to get involved, and encourages them to get involved and think about others, which goes a long way to holding back the "Princess Me" ego so many young girls develop.

Besides, being there is the best way to enjoy their growing up.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 5:36PM
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Wow - this is an interesting thread.
I love the idea of "subsidizing" good things - I'm going to do that with my sons' books, because they take a big chunk out of their allowance.
And goodness, I see my next-door neighbor doing that bonding thing with her 13-y.o. daughter - basically being her friend and not her parent - one day I stopped by and she was dyeing streaks in her daughter's hair, and you wouldn't believe the amount of makeup she wears. My mom thinks she looks and acts like a college girl and couldn't believe it when I told her that she was 13. All of her friends are the same way, of course.

Anyway, my story:
When my oldest was in 2nd grade, he was invited to a 3rd grader's b-day party because his best friend was a 3rd grader that was going, and he knew the other kids. I knew the parents and we all lived in the same neighborhood and attended the same school and local churches and so I assumed that we all pretty much had about the same values. NOT! He came home and said they stayed up all night playing the 16-y.o. brother's video games - stealing cars and shooting police officers and ladies standing around on the street corners wearing "bathing suits" (oh, the innocent babe) - that's right - Grand Theft Auto. For 8 year olds. Geesh. Fortunately, he was raised where he was comfortable telling us and knowing that we wouldn't approve.

Lesson learned for us. My boys are 10 and 13 now. I'm very clear now about video games - they don't have any gaming systems (just a few PC games that were given to us by a friend that worked at Lucas) and no games where they are bad guys and/or shooting at people.

Two years ago, my oldest went a friend's house for an overnighter and they all brought their Gameboys (DS, or whatever they're called) and he didn't have one, so he felt sad and left out. But he didn't feel bad because he didn't have one - it was that the other kids were so lame that they couldn't have fun together without a gameboy.

So what do my boys do without a gaming system to occupy their time? They read like maniacs. We spend a lot of time at the library and book fairs and the bookstores and the house is full of books. The kids books are arranged two and three deep on their bookshelves. They play with Legos. They have probably a hundred thousand Legos. They make stop-motion movies with clay (claymation) and Legos. They write computer programs with Alice. They do science & electronics experiments. One is doing a year's Spanish over the summer while the other is doing remedial writing and spelling (nothing like a little summer homeschooling to eat up the day). This is when they're not biking, sailing, swimming, walking the dog, chores, scouts, etc.

They're not allowed to watch even PG-13 movies without my advanced approval, unlike the vast majority of their friends. I've only allowed Star Wars, Harry Potter, the Pirates movies, Transformers and Spiderman. My DH doesn't like any movies where the audience roots for the bad guys (such as Ocean's Eleven, etc). Something to think about.

TV is mostly Animal Planet, Nat'l Geo Channel and Discovery networks. Mythbusters and science shows are their favorites. They watch the national news with us and we talk about what's going on and learn geography and politics and how the world turns. The local news is tough because they emphasize the nearby rapes and murders and such and man, I hate even listening to that stuff.

Anyway, I think both of my boys are pretty "young" for their ages. They are exposed to a lot at school, but they know how the "rough" kids are going to turn out and that they have bigger expectations for their lives. They think the girlie girls are silly and shallow, but they like the tomboy girls that they sail with.

If you've read down this far in my ramblings, I think the one thing that ties it all together is our family dinners. Ever since the boys were weeks old and could sit in one of those reclined bouncy seats, we've had dinner together every night. Our friends introduced us to "Good thing, bad thing" where we take turns telling the best thing and the worst thing that happened that day. Sometimes we modify with "funniest thing" and "embarrassing thing" but bottom line is that it's a starting point for discussions. Although you just can't control everything your kids will be exposed to, I think it's important to be able to talk to them about it and that they feel comfortable talking to you about anything.

(P.S. If I had girls, and thank goodness I don't, the only thing that I would definitely do is ban glamour and celebrity magazines. I don't look at them myself because I know that they make me self-conscious and lower my self-esteem. And they have ever since I read "Seventeen" as a tween myself. I finally went cold turkey after reading "The Beauty Myth".)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 5:47PM
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Thanks for all the responses...I feel like I am on the right track here. We limit TV and I think that is how most younger kids get introduced to the ideas I'm trying to postpone. When we do watch, it's mostly PBS (the only kids shows around if you don't have cable)--when we do watch other channels, they are very irritated by commercials--I try to use that to teach them how commercials are trying to trick you into buying something you may not need--I hope that lesson sticks. My girls are involved in sports, Brownies, church, lots of family outings and always family dinners. We read tons and try to choose books that don't introduce things they are not ready for--our current faves are the Little House books and books about fairies geared for 6-7 year olds. I do like the idea of subsidizing "good" choices...when they start spending their own money, I will do this. I hadn't thought of the magazine issue--I was never big into those mags when I was young, but it is a good point (right now, we get "Highlights" and "Ranger Rick"--we'll try to stick with those as long as we can!) I have sent her to a few birthday parties that I was slightly uncomfortable with (a party at Libby Lu being the worst) but all she has seemed to take away from them is having fun with her friends--as she gets older though, I may need to choose more carefully--especially after that Grand Theft Auto story--I can't believe that! I am also glad to hear that I am not the only parent out there worrying about this--I think a lot of folks just assume that if it's made for kids then it is fine. This may have been true in the past, but, to the media, now our kids are a consumer group to be sold, rather than innocents to be protected. I guess the protection part is up to me now--thanks for all the ideas on how to do it.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 9:29PM
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The worst child's birthday party experience I have ever heard of was a friend's 7 year old daughter (who got sick and was unable to go with the rest of her friends) was invited to a sleepover birthday party that was being held at a very nice hotel. The birthday girl's mom and her sister were hosting/supervising the little girls birthday party, and they got adjoining rooms. The mom and her sister slept in one room and the girls all slept in the adjoining room for some reason. At some point during the evening, somehow the little girls got onto an adult only channel on the hotel room television. The mom and her sister did not realize it until the following morning. My friend was horrified and so relieved that her daughter had missed the party, but she was still very disturbed because all of her daughters friends had been at the birthday party. Another friend had a sleepover birthday party for her son (13ish) after every one had gone to bed, the parents heard a TV going in the middle of the night. When they got up to go turn it off, they were upset to learn that one of the boy's had brought a video from his own house that they would have never approved of. R rated, lots of really bad language, and very inappropriate for 13 year olds. My friend felt really bad for a few weeks, because it happened at her house, even though she had no idea this kid even brought it into their home. He waited until the parents were asleep to bring it out. When she called the kids mom about it, she said that the kids dad watches all that stuff, and he must have taken one of his dad's videos.

Anyway, you are all on the right track. Also I would recommend the American Girl stories, as they really are good books.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 8:53AM
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I think the most important thing is to keep the lines of communication OPEN. I know many mothers who are strict and limit exposure to certain activities whose children are involved in things that the parents don't know about. You have to be open to hearing the worst because you'll hear some pretty bad stuff but probably not the things you expected. DD13 has a friend whose parents are home to "supervise" but basically don't. She's never been allowed to be there even if parents are home and recently she told me that some of the kids swimming there took showers together afterwards boys/girls naked.... and she ended by saying..."and I knowwwww- that's why I'm not allowed to be there"......she makes her own case because we talk about everything.... there are a couple of girls always hanging on boys after school and behaving poorly in public and I tell her- that's why I don't want you hanging around after school--every parent is thinking if those girls behave like that in public what are they doing in private--and those aren't the kind of girls you want to be friends with because people assume you are just like them...when they got thrown out of the dance for drinking DD said" Guess who got kicked out of the dance for drinking...those girls that you always say are going to end up in trouble."

I know it's judgemental but if we teach by example (living well) and see the examples of kids behaving badly I think instead of hiding kids from it we should call attention to it and talk about it. They know more than we think despite our best efforts.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 10:14AM
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Okay, reading this thread is getting me scared (the Grand theft auto and hotel party--- GAH!!!), but like many of you, I feel like I am on the right track. My DD is almost six, and although she is smart as a whip, she is still into age appropriate activities. My next door neighbor on the other hand, has a mini teenager on her hands at the age of 7. This child is obsessed with High School Musical and Hannah Montana. (My DD doesn't even know what those are, and I want to keep it that way!!!) Of course, her mother has no problem with this, and indulges her daughter. Her entire room is HSM themed, and she plays the music all the time. Since we are neighbors, the girls do play together, but usually at my house, or only for a short time at their house. I absolutely limit ALL TV. DD only watches a half hour or so a day, and usually it's something her and her two year old brother can watch together, usually a PBS show while I make dinner. I try to keep the kids busy, and playing outside in our yard, where I am watching them the entire time. Time and time again, I see the neighbor's kids outside, in the street by themselves. My kids know they are not EVER allowed out of our fenced in yard. I'm a bit scared because next year DD will be in first grade, and since she is one of the youngest in her class, I worry. Anyway, interesting topic, and great advice from all.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 11:49AM
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It's so refreshing to hear I'm not the only mom of 5 and 6 year old girls that doesn't allow Hannah Montana or High School Musical in our home! I was beginning to think I was the only one!

But this brings up a point about music -- what do you let your 5-8 year old listen to, if not Hannah or HSM? My girls listen to Elizabeth Mitchell and Putamayo for kids music as well as artists like Coltrane, Billie Holiday, and George Winston. But I have a feeling they'll become more and more interested in popular music -- any suggestions out there for good music for early elementary schoolers that allows them to get their pop music "fix" without worrying about inappropriate or suggestive lyrics?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 2:12PM
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"I know many mothers who are strict and limit exposure to certain activities whose children are involved in things that the parents don't know about."

But not for long, right? I mean, if you know the children are "involved in things"(and I'm assuming these are "things" that are inappropriate for their ages), you make it a point to gracefully let their parents know, don't you?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 3:00AM
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My SIL recently saw a lady shopping for kid clothes wiht her little girl, about 3-year-old the most. Mom made a little girl trying bathing suits on and her comments were: "Oh aren't you sexy! Oh this suit looks so sexy on you." My SIl was in complete shock.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 7:42AM
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But not for long, right? I mean, if you know the children are "involved in things"(and I'm assuming these are "things" that are inappropriate for their ages), you make it a point to gracefully let their parents know, don't you?

Like newgardenelf, I know kids whose parents are strict, but the kids are involved in things their parents don't "allow". And I don't make it a point to let the parents know, either. It's one thing if the kids are 4 years old, but as they get older I definitely keep my mouth shut. Letting the other parents know is the fastest way to shut down communication with my own kids. My children need to know that if they tell me something in confidence, it will stay that way.

It's one thing when they are 4 or 5, but it gets more complicated as the kids get older.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 8:33AM
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I thought "tweens" were 10 and 11 year olds.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 8:53AM
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I shared this on another thread but I figured I would share this here because it fits.

My sd had a friend who lived near our old house. The girls played together often. She had been at our house a bunch and my sd had been there. When we moved it was not practical to play for a few hours and go home because it was 40 minutes away so the girls began having sleepovers. Most of them were at our house and a few were there. We always talked to the grandma (that is who the girl lived with). The last time my sd was going there it was mentioned they would be going to the local pool so we packed her swimsuit.

Sd came home after the sleepover and going to the pool and we found out that her and her friend (both 11yrs old) were simply dropped off at the pool by the girls family and picked up hours later!!!!!

We were so upset! I would have never thought to ask if they would be supervised, in my mind that was a definate for 11yr olds!! When my dh and I thought of all the things that could have happened we were so mad.

My dh said sd is never going there again! She can only play with the girl at our house, where we know there will be supervision!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 9:31AM
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Oh and I also thought of a funny phrase my stepdad used to say when I was a kid about sleepovers. He was against sleepovers and my mom always ended up letting me go. But whenever I would ask about going to a sleepover he would say "whats wrong with your bed?"

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 9:33AM
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One more comment about this thread....

I have also learned that you can do as much as possible at home to keep your kids innocent, but when they go to school you can not protect them.

Our three older kids (now ages 9, 11, and 13) were in private school for a while and I swear they heard more inappropriate things from kids there during lunch and recess than we would have ever imagined. It is a good thing we have kept the lines of communication open so they could come home and talk to us about these things so we could set the record straight for them on issues.

I had many friends whose parents were overly strict while I was growing up and those friends were the ones who were sneaky and doing things with boys the earliest. You have to have a balance. If your overly strict and do not let your kids do anything or go anywhere they will find a way to do worse. One of my good friends had VERY strict parents. No dating, no mtv, no radio, no cable, few phone calls, no sleepovers at anyone elses house, etc. My friend could never talk to them about things because they were so authoritarian style. All 4 kids in that family (boys and girls) had kids before marriage-2 of them were in their senior year of high school when they became a parent.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 9:46AM
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bnicebkind - I thought 10 or 11 was more the tween time, too.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 12:13PM
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"Tween Marketing
The term Tween Marketing refers to promotion of products and services to young people between the ages of eight and twelve. This multi-billion dollar segments views and attitudes are constantly changing; therefore, any brand targeting tweens must keep up with the ever-changing landscape of tween trends and fads. No longer do tweens simply play with toys; today they also keep an eye on music, fashion, and their individuality. "
This is what I would like to shelter my kids from---some corporation deciding that childhood needs to end earlier so they can make a few more dollars. They have only a few years to be a kid, I think they should enjoy that before getting into the whole teen-driven world of fashion, music and having the "right" things in order to fit in. Plenty of time for that later!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 8:47PM
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I'm with ya!
Sure, I limit media that I think sends the wrong moral message. But I'm also trying to protect them from becoming some corporation's target. I'm not going to let a corporation have so much influence over my kids. It doesn't just dictate what they want to spend money on, it gets into their perception of the world and themselves.

I just refuse to turn over the controls of my children's moral compass to pop culture or capitolism.

Since the swimsuit issue came up... am I the only prudish mom who thinks a string bikini is not appropiate for an 8 y/o? From the stock in stores, it seems I am. I held the line on that w/DD this spring. I don't know why she wanted the tiny bikinis, probably cuz that's what most of the suits were so she didn't like half the department being off limits. I'm being practical here; she would be constantly tugging at it to keep it on right. I'm a fan of the tankini. ;o) The best of everything, IMO.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 11:02PM
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Bathing suits ARE really tricky! Last year my dd (then 11) stopped shopping for swimsuits in the girls' section, because she was starting to develop and felt that the tops were too see-through without a liner or pads. But the suits in the junior section are normally pretty skimpy, so she tries on a lot of suits before we find one that looks OK for her age.

At 12, she's now 5' 4" and 110 lbs, so there's no shopping in the girls section anymore anyways. Being a preteen in an adult-sized body makes shopping pretty challenging.

Makes me appreciate my boys - their swim trunks just come in S, M and L. If they're with me, I let them choose, but if I know they will need one, I can just pick one up and it's always OK.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 2:14PM
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When I opened this thread, I was surprised to hear a 7 year old characterized as 'tween'. I thought it was a term for 11-12 year olds. A 7 year old is a little kid that should be watching G TV/movies.

The only way to keep a child 'innocent' is to set an example for them on how you want them to behave. You can't keep them from being exposed to things at school or TV (I'm appalled at commercials on E.D., condoms, and K-Y for him & her... I mean some of the commercials on TV are flat out inappropriate and it takes diligence to monitor what kids see) The problem is when parents tell the kids 'go watch TV' and are not paying attention to what they see. If the parents are doing things... the kids are learning it.

You can't get back the innocence once it's gone. That's like taking back your virginity... not happening. But, that doesn't mean you can't teach them about acceptable behavior. A person that was promiscuous at one time, can choose to do things differently. If you explain to your child the consequences of certain behavior, they are going to make the choice on how to behave as they get older.

Until parents start writing manufacturers in protest to the clothing industry and the content of movies, tv, or music, then nothing is going to change for the better. It has gotten progressively worse and I'd cringe if I were to have another child in today's society. There are far too many parents that think it's cute to dress their toddlers like teenagers, when teenagers shouldn't even be dressing that way.

I have a beautiful 15 year old niece that attracts the attention of lots of guys. She is a beautiful girl but she doesn't understand the intentions of the guys looking at her.. guys her own age up to their 20's. Girls that age aren't prepared to deal with the unwanted attention when they look 18-19 and they are still a child of 15.

My SD is 9 and tries to dress sexy and wants to be 'hott' and she is certainly not prepared to handle it if she gets attention from boys of ANY age. It's truly scary and in her case, her mom teaches her how to bump & grind dance, thinks it's cute to dress her 'sexy' (she even put a thong on her when she was 7) and lets her listen to nasty rap songs.

It all comes back to the parents and setting a good example. If the parents place a lot of importance on being 'popular' and the popular kids are into grown up things.. like cussing, drinking, watching age inappropriate shows, etc. then those are the things the child is going to think is the way to becoming popular. It's all about the values you teach your child... and you have to practice what you preach.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 3:11PM
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I don't think of my 8 y/o as a tween. But I know she will be in a blink, time goes fast. And I know that who she is now is only a couple steps behind who she will be in a couple years. I don't want her to skip steps. I want to take the next few years nice and slow. So I think about it now, and how limits I set now will have results in a those tween years.

It is tough to draw the line. DD is the youngest girl on our cul-de-sac. All the kids on our street often play together, a game of kick ball with ages 6 to 16. They are good to each other. But then DD sees the tweens, who were little girls just a couple years ago, and wants to do what they do, have the same rules. She sees them as her peers, as much time as they all are together. I have to put it to her plain and simple "No, you're younger than they are. You have different rules." I'll let her go to the neighbor's house, an 11 y/o, but only if it's just the two of them. Then they play younger stuff, stuffed animals and dolls. If the older girl has friends her age over, DD is not allowed to be there. I think the 11 y/o acts her age, not older, but still, a roomful of older girls is not the environment for an 8 y/o. It's the difference between G and PG, so to speak.

We've been talking about our daughters, but we're raising boys, too.

I don't know what to do with my younger boys sometimes. That's my only DD, but my boys are 6, almost 12 and almost 15. So for that 12 and 6 y/o, I can't escape them spending a lot of time with older boys, and immitating the older boys (the good, the bad and the ugly! LOL). I have to remind the older ones that younger ones are watching them, and the influence they have on the younger ones. Unfortunately, my 6 y/o DS is exposed to a lot that I would not have had #1 exposed to at the same age. But I can't keep the older ones younger than their age, and I can't lock the little one in the attic for safe-keeping b/c his older brothers are doing/watching something age-appropriate for them. I try to keep everyone on individually age-appropriate entertainment, and still some things as an entire family. But when they go from 6 to 15, it's not perfect. I don't allow TVs in their rooms, it's a common family room TV.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 6:00PM
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"I know many mothers who are strict and limit exposure to certain activities whose children are involved in things that the parents don't know about."
But not for long, right? I mean, if you know the children are "involved in things"(and I'm assuming these are "things" that are inappropriate for their ages), you make it a point to gracefully let their parents know, don't you?"

I used to do that with two moms that I was very good friends with and in one case it was fine- (I let mom know he was prank calling the house) the mom was upset, grounded the kid, he got mad at DD, we all sat down and talked about it, they got over it (in fact I took him to lunch with DD today). The other mom says she wants to know but when I tell her she gets mad at her daughter who gets mad at my daughter who gets mad at me and it blows over and her daughter is doing the same thing all over again (she has a very sexy, raunchy myspace which she supposedly doesn't have.)

I am only obligated to parent and protect my children and I now stay focused on that task- the rest will drive you crazy.

It's sad but you really can't depend on other parents to keep you informed- you have to be hypervigilant. I read DD13s emails and monitor her cell phone calls in/out no texting, no IMing, any visits to other homes will be discussed with the adult into whose supervision she will be entrusted. She's a good kid but she isn't perfect and she makes poor choices sometimes- we limit her opportunity to do return she has parents who will pick up a car load of friends and take them to the beach or movies where they will be supervised not dropped off, she can have friends over for dinner or sleepovers, she has parents who show up and cheer for all of her school and sports events. It's a trade off and we talk about that too. She knows that so and so has the run of the streets but she also sees that no one showed at school to see so and so get an award or hit the homerun.

Some parents think I'm too uptight or rigid but the night a mom came to our house at 9:30 on a schoolnight looking for her daughter who left our house at 5:00- I thought to myself---Yup, but at least I know where my daughter is!

The boys haven't been as curious or in a hurry to grow up but we are handling them in a similar fashion though with less resistance.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 6:55PM
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It was so nice to read this thread. My daughter is six, but kids in her class talk about Hannah Montana, HS musical, etc. I finally watched a Hannah Montana episode the other night, and while I think there is nothing wrong with Miley I do not think it's appropriate for my daughter at this time. She came home and said, "Mom, I want to watch hannah bontana". Too cute, but no. She watches Little Bear, Franklin, etc on Noggin and that's about it.

I'm worried about the young sexiness that is marketed. Bratz are a good example.

Thanks for all of your insight. It's true, the tween years will come so fast!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 8:26PM
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Like several here, especially stephanie and daisy (both in GA, as am I), this has been of deep concern to me since my own dd was young. She is now 17, so she's on the verge of adulthood. These are the things I've been vigilant about:

clothes - I've adamantly refused to buy trashy stuff, period. I like pretty clothes, and a lot of trendy stuff is not even pretty to me. Thankfully, dd agrees. She also developed early, and I've always emphasized modesty. Swimsuits have been a challenge; she's either worn tankinis or one-piece suits. And she herself wanted to get exercise shorts which actually look like tankini bottoms and are the same material to go over the bottom of the one-piece suit she has now.

music - We are very conservative about this. No rap music which is derogatory of girls/women, period. She leans toward classical music and also likes some contemporary Christian music.

TV and movies - We have been very vigilant about TV programs and movies from the time our dc were little. For some time they really didn't watch much TV - mainly things like Mister Rogers Neighborhood (it was boring to me, but they loved it, LOL), Reading Rainbow, and Between the Lions (though, to be honest, I didn't quite get why Dr. Ruth was on a kids' show). The main things they watched were kids' shows and classic movie videos. They LOVED the classic Pooh videos, Jay Jay the Jet Plane, and Thomas the Tank Engine when they were young. As they've grown older, we've continued to emphasize wholesome programs/movies which would not tear down what we had worked so hard to build in them. One big help in this area was getting a VCR/DVD player (when vidoes were giving way to DVDs) which has the TV Guardian that bleeps out offensive language.

books - She is a voracious reader, has been reading since the age of 4. I was like this as a kid, too, and I read a lot of books I really shouldn't have. Because of this, I was very careful when she was young to major on books that were wholesome and would emphasize good character, not glorify rebels. This has really paid off. Today she not only loves to read, but is a creative writer and heads a writing club for teens.

friends - We have emphasized from the beginning that we wanted to know her friends, who they were, and we wanted to know their families. So we've made it a point to befriend her friends' parents. This way we parents are all on the same page, we know what the kids are doing, we know they are safe. I am very grateful that our dd has been very willing and happy to do this. I know we are blessed. When I was her age, I was okay - was considered a really good kid by adults - but my parents weren't vigilant about these things and my life was definitely affected by it.

Above all, I have always tried to keep a balance between being an authoritative parent (not mean, just mean what I say) and being a friendly parent. I do think both are very important. I've wanted her to know that I am not against her, I don't want to cramp her style, that I genuinely want her to love her life, to enjoy her family, to enjoy her friends, to get all out of life she can. I think she knows that is true, that it's real, and I think that's helped her to accept the rules of the house.

From the time she was a baby, I made it a point to show affection, as I didn't grow up with affection. Though it didn't come naturally for me, I knew it was vital that she feel loved and so I told her (and the other dc) EVERY DAY that I loved them. Sometimes I've had to say I didn't like what they were DOING right that moment, but I loved THEM. I have also worked to keep the atmosphere in the home light, with lots of humor and fun.

She and I have done 'girl' things together. She was helping me in the kitchen from the time she was little - one unexpected result of this is that her younger brother is now a great cook too, LOL. She is very creative (much more so than I, truth be told) and I've always encouraged her in crafts even when I was all thumbs with them. As she's grown older, she's become more interested in painting fingernails and toenails than I, and since she doesn't sport the Goth look, I encourage her to look pretty. She wears a minimum of makeup (also like me). On her 16th birthday I splurged and let her get her hair highlighted, but not with garish colors. She's a honey blonde and wanted lighter streaks. It turned out gorgeous.

Believe me, I haven't always done everything right, I've made stupid mistakes from time to time, but my dc KNOW I love them, they know I care, they know we're not on opposite sides but are on the same side. If kids know that, it will make all the difference. They honestly don't mind rules and discipline as long as they know we truly care about them.

Please forgive the "book". One of my flaws is being too wordy. :-)

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 12:16AM
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I have a 10 year old grand daughter that is going on 16. She came to live with us this way. Her mom is in prison and she has been bounced around to a few places before we where able to get custody of them.

My best advise is to keep them young as long as you can. She talked her grandfather into buying her a halloween costume that makes her look like a hooker. She gets highlights put into her hair and only wanted to wear the best cloths. Gets her eyebrows waxed, etc. Way too much for a 10 year old. The one thing I do not allow is makeup.

After the costume thing I put a stop to all this. I will still buy her the style cloths that she likes. But the vann tennis shoes are out now and the her hair is being taken back to her natural color. I can take the waxing away from her, because I dont want to see the unibrow on her.

But I am sick of it. It cost more money to keep her looks up than it does mine! When she is old enough to pay for these things herself we will talk about them again.

So I would say. Give them a little (limited) freedom. Dont let them walk all over you with guilt like mine does. Self expression is wonderful, but we have to also limit that from time to time.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 8:57AM
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