(by Jane DeAngelis)
After having lived in Italy for 11 years, my family and I returned to the USA in 2003. Little did I realize how much American culture had changed during those years.
One lazy Sunday afternoon, I stumbled on an article in the Lincoln Journal News that showed delightful 9 year old girls, dressed in white, having a Purity Tea Party. What was this all about? Isn’t 9-years old far too young to be talking about things like purity? MY daughter certainly was too young … or was she? This article took me on a path that has led to a major change in my awareness of the sexual landscape in which my children–and yours–are being raised.
The point I wish to stress is this: The world in which you grew up is nothing like the world your children are now growing up in. That was the biggest eye opener for me in this journey. In 2009, I was privileged to attend an intensive seminar on abstinence training hosted by Shelly Donohue called “W.A.I.T.” training (Why Am I Tempted), now Center for Relationship Education. Aside from the very user friendly presentation given to middle school through high school students, much information was provided to bring parents, teachers, and youth workers up to speed with the present culture.
For example, I was stunned at how ignorant I was regarding this current climate’s culture which practically embraces Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) as something that “can happen to anyone”and which are “easily treated”. Vaccines such as Gardasil are heavily promoted. The truth is that less than 50 years ago, there were primarily two major STDs—syphilis and gonorrhea. In 2010, there are over 28. Some have no symptoms whatsoever but can result in infertility or birth defects (Chlamydia)¹. Some are treated but have no cure—ever—you simply have to manage them (HPV)².
Our sexuality can be likened to a protective varnish that we are given at birth to guard our development. When a child is “sexualized”, it is as if a chink of this protective varnish is removed. Songs, magazines, books, movies, TV shows, games and the Internet are all portals where we may or may not be aware that we are seeing our children sexualized at a younger and younger age.
Clothing is another example, I mean, thong underwear for 3 year olds? Who would ever conceive of this? Yet parents are the ones who make such purchases and again, may not realize the damage being done to their child. Exposing children to adult themes is really not best for the children but in today’s highly charged, “politically correct” environment, same sex relationships are being pushed into curriculum and discussions for the adult’s agenda, not in the best interest of the child.
Guess at what age a child is currently first exposed to pornography? 8 years old -thanks to the Internet. The readily available content at the click of a mouse—in our living rooms, on iPods are things we never had the possibility of encountering during our childhood. Now I realize that since our children will be exposed to culture’s increasingly amoral sexual messages, it is not at all too early to begin the purity discussion with my 9-year old daughter.
One Christmas, I read an article that made the case for Lego’s, Lincoln Logs, Toy dolls, and Monopoly as being the most beneficial for children. The concept was that, although a multitude of new electronic toys are now available, children are developmentally no different today than 50 years ago and the aforementioned toys engage a child’s developmental abilities at age-appropriate levels. This concept so embodies our children (as well as us adults!) and their sexual development. In spite of the so-called social “progressive” agendas that permeate our culture, children developmentally are the same as 50 years ago. Purity, abstinence, and self-control are disciplines and values that will serve our children well in developing and maintaining a healthy marriage and family life. As mothers and fathers, we need to keep holding to people and programs that will help us to articulate and make real these concepts on a practical, daily basis, as we counter and deconstruct the myths that have become status quo.
Jane DeAngelis and her husband were vocational missionaries in Italy, during which time their two children, a son and a daughter, were born. They are committed to implementing the plan set out in God’s Word for marriage and parenting on a practical, daily basis.