Farewell to Blurred Reflections

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When Shweta, Josh, and I started writing this blog for all of you I was at the young age of nineteen. Although many may think this would be a disadvantage for me because I have not experienced as much as my blog partners, I like to think of it as an advantage. Fresh out of high school and just learning how to live on my own with out my parent’s support has given me a “one-up” when writing this blog.

This video is exactly what I want to share with my mom!

 

My parents were huge supporters for me when I was growing up. They were both very involved in my activities and what was happening in my life, but on the other hand, they gave me the space to be independent and learn on my own. They made rules and they stuck to them. I think as parents this is a hard balance to find. Young teens, as you may know, think they know everything and this is SO TRUE.  I can say this now because I understand the way I acted a few years back, and I didn’t realize at the time that my parents were just trying to help. All those times I argued and screamed at them for not letting me do something because I THOUGHT I was old enough and that my parents just didn’t take me seriously. Even though I am a very stubborn person, and this is so hard to admit, I am very thankful for what my parents did when I was a teenager.

Going through high school your teen will be experiencing many of the things we talked about in this blog. Prom, social apps, television shows, relationships, and many more will fill the lives of your teen, and we want you to stand strong and stay informed. As we have stated in previous posts it is important for you to stay involved in what your child is up to, even if they do not agree with you at this time in their life.

We want to recognize you, as a parent, with much respect. Josh, Shweta, and I do not have children of our own but do realize, parenting, is the hardest job in the world. Being responsible for someone else’s life can be stressful, alarming, and a lot of work; but at the same time rewarding and well worth every minute.

Parenting is even more stressful and complicated these days because of messages from the media that sometimes “blur the reflection” of your teen’s identity. That is why it is important as parents to be there for your children as they move ahead in life and discover themselves. Support your child for who he or she wants to become. Reassure to your child that he or she is beautiful and loved no matter what their choices or mistakes. I believe that the best life lessons are learned through mistakes.

 

We want you to keep a few things in mind as we say farewell to our blog:

  • We are all unique and different and your child may be too
  • It is important to be involved in your child’s life
  • Stand strong and stay informed
  • The media is a huge part in the generation your child is growing up in so keep them informed and let them teach you as well

 

The most important thing I want to say in this blog is, even though your kids aren’t thanking you now for being in their business, monitoring where they are or where they go, asking them who they are texting, etc. they will thank you one day! When that day comes you will feel like the most accomplished person in the world (that is what my mom said when I thanked her). During all the fights and the screaming you can just remind yourself that one day it will all be worth it because your child will be prepared for the real world.

I have included some fun videos for you guys to enjoy while reading and to get a good laugh for the day. Also, here are some blog links that you can refer to for future reference.  Go through these, or you might as well create your own to let the world know about your own experiences! Reach out when you need help to clear some blurred reflections, and give back when you have your own experiences to share.

 

http://familycircle.com/blogs/momster/category/parenting-teens-tweens/

 http://raisingteensblog.com/?tag=parenting-teens

  http://www.radicalparenting.com/

 

 

 

Salafia, B. Class Lecture. September, 2013.

Relationship status: Is it supposed to be complicated?

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by Shweta Sharma

 

What do celebrities Joe Jonas, Blanda Eggenschwiler, Leonardo DiCaprio, Toni Garnn, Amy Poehler, and Nick Kroll have in common? All of these celebrities have been in the news due to their relationships this past summer. Now you might be wondering how this would be connected to your teen! Well, it is probably that time of their lives when the next most important thing for them is going to be a relationship or a romantic relationship rather. Much like fashion trends and body images, media feeds us with direct and indirect messages about relationships as well. After doing some readings about messages of domestic violence in music videos for our class I instinctively took to think about relationships in general… what is media telling us about relationships, especially through the grapevine discussions of celebrity relationships? How is this impacting young teen minds?

If you are thinking that your teen is too young to stay abreast with the latest gossip about celebrity relationships, you may want to take a look at this online magazine for teens http://www.j-14.com/

This magazine is just s sample of what print and online sources are feeding to your teen’s mind about relationships. Interestingly, the cues are not limited to fancies and fantasies, these media outlets also talk about violence in relationships. Anytime a celebrity comes out in public to talk about his or her partner in the context of a bad relationship, the buzz goes a long way! It is important to note here that the impact of messages about relationships in these celeb stories is anything but simple.

If it is gossip it gets discussed! Teens talk in their peer groups about these popular people and the discussions help them shape their opinions about relationship norms and expectations. Hence it is important for you as an adult to intervene such discussions with your mature perspective. Furthermore, it is not just fuzzy, romantic, and lavish expressions of relationships, it is also about values that get promulgated through the media messages about celebrity relationships. Here I would like to focus on how celebrity relationships’ gossip may endorse passive norms about infidelity and violence in relationships, followed by some suggestions on how you can deconstruct these messages for your teens:

On-and-off relationships

It is not uncommon for us to hear about a celebrity couple coming together, breaking-up, and coming together again several times. The pop-culture magazine Elle’s online version carried an article on 11 such relationships in news recently. http://www.elle.com/pop-culture/celebrities/on-off-celebrity-couples#slide-1 

Celebs Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber top the list. These stories are full of gossip about infidelity, cheating, emotional sagas, and an unstable state of affairs. Think about what is this telling the teenagers about what is acceptable and what is not. Are relationships just for fun, or is there something serious?

 

You may think that it is more important to talk to your children about the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol, or violent video games etc. These issues are important, but at the same time we cannot neglect the fact that ability to form good-quality relationships can contribute to your child’s mental peace.motional sagas, and an unstable state of affairs. Think about what is this telling the teenagers about what is acceptable and what is not. Are relationships just for fun, or is there something serious?

You could talk about what they think about priorities in a relationship, what is their interpretation about the on-and-off celebrity relationships. Your teen may or may not be supportive of all that is being said about the celebs in news, but it is important to help them parse-out the influx of gossip and decide where they stand as individuals. You can help your teen do this analysis and remove the unnecessary complexities from their perspective on relationships.

Violence in relationships

From singers Ike and Tina Turner to boxer Mike Tyson, Pop Artist Rihanna, we have numerous examples of celeb stories about violence in relationships. More often than not a female celeb is the victim, and the length of time served as a victim is usually pretty long. A story about Rehanna on another online magazine for teens http://www.yourtango.com/200944463/5-celebs-who-overcame-domestic-violence,  talks about how her boyfriend beat her so bad before her Grammy performance, that she could not perform the next day. The story generates sympathy for Rehanna, portrays her as a brave heart for speaking up, and celebrates her being a survivor. But wait a minute, are we not supposed to question why in first place did she tolerate the violence for so long? What stopped her from reacting to the first blow?

Even though these stories about survivors of domestic violence celebrate their resilience and rebellion both, I think the hidden messages in such stories are problematic. These stories tell us that rebellion is justified once you have suffered enough. On a deeper level, these stories also justify victimhood for women, and solidify the belief that males cannot be the victims. Males inflict violence; it may be bad, but acceptable to a certain extent. When you see such a story doing the rounds in the media circles, you may take time to talk about issues of respect in relationships. Your teen needs to know the importance of mutual respect in a relationship.

A relationship can be complex, but it does not need to be complicated. Take a step to bring some clarity to the blurred reflections of relationships that the media is creating on your teen’s mind. After all, your teen deserves a fulfilling life!

 

 

 

 

The Warrior Boy

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-Written by: Joshua Hintz

Channing Tatum, the good-looking actor that many teens know from popular films such as Step Up, 21 Jump Street, and Dear John once said ‘I’m not a tough guy or a street fighter for real. I’m just an actor’.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=manly

UrbanDictionary Definition of ‘Manly’

Throughout my years of classes in Women Gender Studies and Human Development and Family Science, I have built a passion for young men and how they feel in our society. This might not make much sense as of right now, but continue reading and I will explain why this is important, and such a serious topic. A couple things I will specifically be discussing are the ‘man-box’ and the ‘mask’ so many teenage men are experiencing in their everyday lives. It would not be a surprise if your son, too, is going through this!

First, the ‘man-box’, in simple terms, is a set of strict expectations that a male is to conform to in order to be a masculine MAN in society. Some of these expectations are:

  • Express no emotion
  • Always be tuff
  • Make lots of money
  • Get the girls
  • Make and retain power in all situations
  • Several others

Some of these things are learned through family when a father or brother expects the son to be ‘tuff’ and act like a man. Some of these things are learned through friends at school and/or athletics. And some of these expectations are learned through the media in forms of advertisements, movies, commercials, etc. Wherever these expectations are coming from, they can be greatly detrimental to your teenage son.

If those expectations were not strict enough, the consequences of stepping outside the ‘man-box’ are even harsher. Stepping outside means you are less of a man than your peers which leads to being called names such as:

  • Pussy
  • Fag
  • B***h
  • Wimp
  • Sissy

To avoid these horrible names, young men will often wear a ‘mask’ to cover any emotions and fear they may be experiencing at school. The titles is named “The Warrior Boy” because of this. Throughout my studies, young boys literally hide all emotions at school to appear tougher, in hopes of fitting into the man box. As you can imagine, this can be very dangerous for someone because they have to hide them true selves to be somebody they are not.

Now that the terms are defined, I want to share a personal anecdote with you!

Most of my high school career was spent hiding under a mask. Since I was a gay man, and that was seen as taboo at the time, I could never be myself. Ever. Walking into the school I had to pretend to be this strong and masculine figure. I never had a table that welcomed me at lunch because I was always so awkward with myself that most found it overly uncomfortable. My teammates sometimes called me the creepy kid because I was socially awkward. And even in the hallways I felt the need to keep a ‘straight’ looking face. The conversations I had with people were shallow because I feared of sounding ‘gay’.

This got so bad to the point of suicidal thoughts. I hated being myself, and none of my peers in school knew me for me. Had I known and understood the ‘man-box’ and what this mask thing was all about, I would have stood up for myself and educated the ones around me about it. In addition, I wish I had the ONE person to call when I needed to debrief my built up emotions.

I am not saying your son is gay by any means, but I am suggesting he may feel the need to hide certain aspects of his personality. I want to encourage you as parents to be open for discussion with him and consider sharing some videos and information about the man box with him. Media is CONSTANTLY filling young men with high expectations of what masculine means; how their bodies should appear, how they should act, dress, talk, and even their morals as a ‘man’. There is a change in our society. Slowly but surely men are being raised to see a new accepted masculinity.  This new masculinity includes characteristics such as:

  • Expressing emotions
  • Being able to cry
  • Putting family and love as a first priority
  • Expressing character

As parents, try to understand the types of expectations your son may be feeling from society, peers and media. What types of expectations is he receiving from you? Does it require him to wear a mask and be somebody he is not?

Finally, since I am such a strong advocate for suicide prevention, have him call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or visit the National Suicide Prevention Website if he EVER needs an open ear to talk. We know young men contact their peers before parents. Even if you make a comfortable and open home environment, he may prefer talking to a stranger about problems first. I had suicidal thoughts for a while as a teenager, and I never want another teen to experience that.

Rap Music

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By: Kiah Burke

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Moms are always there, but what about dads?

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by Shweta Sharma

 

Media in its various forms continues to convey these subtle messages about how certain relationships should look like, or how we should behave in certain roles. I am reflecting on such messages because nearly every video that I watch on Youtube these days begins with a “P&G proud sponsor of moms” commercial.

I have watched all versions of these commercials and there are some recurring themes that send subtle but strong, and clearly hetronormative messages about a mother’s role in the success of a child. Probably your teen is getting similar messages from various media outlets. In this week’s blog I would like to talk about these themes and through this post I invite both moms and dads to express their feelings about these super-inspiring commercials.

  1. Moms sacrifice

These commercials are heart-moving. They show moms waking up at the break of the dawn, making sure that the budding Olympian gets to practice regularly. The moms bear pain and hardships like Lindsey Vonn’s mom who was in coma for 7 weeks after giving birth to Lindsey (I have no idea how that is related to raising an Olympian). This idea of portraying the moms as pillars of strengths and having the ability to sacrifice anything and everything for their children is a bit bothersome to me. First, it places a huge burden of expectations on moms. Second, it takes away from the sacrifices a father would make, or could make in order to see his child become successful. Hence, in many ways advertising like this glorifies sacrifice and impressionable minds of adolescents might expect this as a norm.

  1. Moms are always there

I do not intend to criticize the portrayal of emotions in these heart-warming stories of Olympians and their moms, however, showing only moms and having a whole series of commercials on the theme excludes fathers. Such advertising denies that even a father can fulfill emotional needs of a child or support a child in many ways. Once again, moms have to be there always, without fail. Taylor Lipsett’s mom was there for each of his hockey matches despite a bout with ovarian cancer. It is quite possible that the moms in these commercials really had a huge part to play in their children’s lives, but I am pretty sure that there are many fathers out there who have played this role too. For example in this video we get to see how Derek Redmond’s father supported him in ’92 Barcelona Olympics. Sadly it is an exceptional compilation, not something which made a mark to any inspiring commercial. Question to ask: Moms are always there, but what about dads?

  1. Moms know it all

Another recurring theme in the P&G commercials for Olympics is that moms know everything, they just understand! The tagline of this series of commercials is that the “Before the world saw them as Olympians, mom saw their potential”. The Olympians are repeatedly saying that when they failed their mom had a message, a perfect message to lift them up. Even though Julie Chu says that the decision that she being a girl can play hockey, came from both her parents, it is only her mom who gets the glory in the commercial because her mom could see “the spark in her eyes” every time Julie played hockey! In the Evan Lysacek version of the commercial, Evan says “if my mom believed it, then I believed it.” These embedded messages are clearly increasing the burden on mos’ shoulders, they ought to be knowledgeable and understanding all the time!

Moving further, I want to reiterate that on the face value these commercials are inspiring to say the least. They make your heart melt; I certainly had my moments of teary eyes! However, there are hidden messages about creating expectations for performance of the “mother role.” Media feeds us with such messages and this is probably the reason why most children go to their moms when they need emotional support and care. This is all fine, but not showing fathers in such roles is like annihilating them and not giving them any credit for what they do or are capable of doing for a child.

Once again, more blurred reflections on your teen’s mind — such emotional stories are clearly creating gender specific expectations about parents, and adding to the load of already overburdened moms while keeping fathers away from portrayals of good parenting. You may have good reasons to disagree with my viewpoint, or maybe you have more examples in support. Please share and help us clear the blurred reflections!

 

 

 

BUSTING the teenage BUZZ

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By: Joshua Hintz

My last blog entry about Modern Family was refreshing and sweet. Not this time! Personally, I am getting aggravated by how teenagers are practically eating, sleeping, and breathing with technology and social media strapped to their hands. Hopefully as a parent, you will be able to understand just how much your teenager is being impacted by Facebook, Instagram, etc., as well as a few suggestions or solutions that might be able to steer your teen away from the phone and into family time.

I am not a 14 year old anymore, so it would not be honest to say I know exactly how a teenager is feeling in school… So that is why I interviewed my 14 year old sister who is currently an 8th grader. Sure, it would be wrong to say she represents every 14 year old girl, but she is my eyes looking into middle/high school and why social constructs is problematic.

Some of her direct quotes during my interview:

  • “I would [say] 100% of the people in 8th grade have a cell phone, and I would say maybe 95% of 8th graders have Facebook.”

 

  • “Social media impacts my life in a good way but in a bad way too. Sometimes I get bullied on social media apps, such as ask.fm or Instagram. But I just don’t pay attention to it.”

 

  • “Girls calling other girls ugly, fat, or stupid. The guys call girls the same thing but guys call other guys that they are acting like a girl and they are weak. But girls have to be the worst by spreading rumors about other people and they are especially bad on social media sites.”

These three points help illustrate the direct and indirect messages young students are receiving; all hinging on social media and the access to it. (Some sobering statistics!) Look around, access to social media is everywhere: cell phones, iPads, iPods, Nooks, laptops, and even on the television. I am not suggesting that you, as a parent, remove all of those links to social media because that would be ridiculous. But I am suggesting you take a different approach to your teenager and what they say and do when using social media.

When was the last time you and your son/daughter had a good discussion about school? Or a good talk about how they feel with their friends, or if they get bullied at school? How about a chat about social media and their access to it? How does the old saying go… Oh yeah, if you don’t know, just ask! I asked my sister a couple other questions. One was about who she goes to when she needs emotional support, friends/peers or parents? Her response:

  • “Most of the time I go to friends but if not my mom or any of my brothers.”

Your teenager may never come out and say they look up to you, value family time, or enjoy talking to you, but they probably do. It is a very normal part of adolescence to pull away from the parents to conform to friends. These friends will shape who the adolescent becomes, after all. So the next time you and your teen get some alone time, maybe ask how he/she is doing. It would be ok to pry a little bit because you can really influence their friend group. Again, in the interview, I asked my sister what makes her

unique from her friends, and what ‘separates her from the crowd’. Her replies were inspiration!

  • “I’m unique because I’m me and I don’t care if others think I’m weird, ugly, or fat.”
  • “I’m unique because I’m smart in my own way and I’m good at my own things.”

That made me wonder how much parent involvement is in her life. Sure, she is my sister, but I am off away at college and do not see her relationship with my parents first hand. I also wanted to know how she felt about it. She said:

  • “My parents are definitely in my life more than other parents. I think my parents push me harder in sports and education more than other parents because they want me to succeed, which is a good thing.”

Google images; teen being alone.

As a reminder, I am not writing this blog to correct your parenting style and say you are doing a bad job. Rather, I want to critique the conversations you all share together. I took an Adolescent Development class recently, and we learned that adolescents (your teen) spend approximately 1/4thof their time alone. In addition, they spend about four times the amount of time with peers than parents. So parent involvement will naturally fade until a later stage in life. So those few minutes you may have with your son or daughter are special and can be impactful. ‘Slow down and smell the roses,’ was said some time ago, and sticks with all of us today. But it is true: slow things down, talk to your teenager, and let the good times roll.

Tinder = Trouble

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By: Kiah Burke

When I was younger one of the key lessons I learned was “It’s not what people look like, its what’s on the inside that really matters.” As I have grown I have learned that this concept is becoming more and more untrue. People are constantly being judged by what they look like. I go to class and learn about job interviews and they tell you plain and simple, if you don’t look nice they wont hire you.  But my question is, does this matter when finding a partner? When you start to look for someone you are ready to settle down with are looks the first thing you consider? There is a new app now called Tinder that sets you up with people based on what you look like. It is very popular with people my age (college students) but your children do have access to downloading this app.

When using Tinder you first find a profile picture. Which is a whole other conversation because usually people pick profile pictures that don’t even truthfully look like them.  Then you sign into your Facebook account. After doing so the app then gains access to your GPS in your phone. It finds other people who are within 100 miles from you who are also using this app. You then begin to see the profile pictures of those people. If you find them attractive you hit the “like” button, if you don’t find them attractive you hit the “Nope” button.  The key to this app is if you hit the “like” button for someone and they also hit the “like” button for you, then your information is shared and you are able to begin chatting with this person.

Rules when using Tinder

First of all, I find this app to be very creepy personally. I don’t like the fact that my GPS is being used to find OTHER PEOPLE! Worse than that, other people’s GPS systems being used to find me! Secondly, I don’t want people looking solely at my profile picture to decide whether or not they like me. Wouldn’t it be better to meet people the “old fashioned” way and actually socialize face-to-face? Third, my advice to all people is NEVER trust a person just by looking at a profile picture. A person cannot tell if someone is being truthful just by looking at a picture. To me this app is a social media accident waiting to happen.

Tech Report- Tinder Video

For consenting adults this app is fine. Adults make their own decisions and they have to live and learn. But my concern is for the under aged people using this app. I am fresh out of high school and I can tell you right now that high schoolers that are using this app are using it for the wrong reasons. Parents need to keep a close watch on what apps their kids are downloading to their phones. I understand that it is a difficult task to try and keep your kid safe in the technology era that we live in. That is why it is important to talk with your children on what is considered safe and what is dangerous. I would suggest doing “background checks,” as I would call them, by going online and reading about the apps that your kids are using. It is very possible that kids don’t understand the full concept of all the apps they are using, such as using GPS.

University Interview- Tinder: Casual Sex App for the Future

I am not a parent myself but I think that I can speak for most in saying that it is not safe for under age kids to being using “dating” apps.  I am not trying to scare you by giving you this information. Especially because many kids are smart when using their cell phones and downloading apps. I just stress that it is very important for all parents to monitor and educate in this media filled world that we live in.

Google play store (Tinder)

Is your little boy thinking about prompose?

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If you are wondering what is “prompose”, let me tell you that I did not coin this term, I got it from the world wide web, and PROMPOSE = PROM + PROPOSE. It is not that time of the year; Spring is far away, especially in Fargo! Then why am I talking about proms? Well, blame it on Facebook! I saw this video doing rounds on Facebook, it shows how a boy used flash mob to propose his girlfriend for prom, and it made me think about the ginormous load of expectations prom imposes on both boys and girls.

I come from a country where I never experienced anything like prom, so I decided to ask our blog team! I’m sure my naïve question: “What exactly happens on a prom night?” was bit of a surprise for both Josh and Kiah. What I gathered through our random discussions, made me realize that there are a lot of gender norms associated with prom nights… especially about the pressure on boys to have sex on prom night. I was curious to see what advice available for parents to discuss proms with their teens. No big surprise! The internet is full of advice, but all sex advice is directed towards girls, and I find this disturbing. It is great to tell girls to be safe, but it will be even more helpful to educate boys about how to respect a girl’s decision.

For example, take a look at this video from Fox News, it talks about preparing your teen for a prom night. All advice about general alcohol, drugs, accidents, and all sex advice primarily directed towards girls! The internet is full of such redundant advice, and here is why I think it is problematic: First of all, boys are as vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as girls are. Only educating girls will not be as helpful as educating both girls and boys. Secondly, health issues are discussed a lot in schools, and teenagers get it, but the issues of respect for each other are rarely discussed.

The expert on Fox News video talk about how a girl might regret her decision to have sex with someone on a prom night, it is time to talk to our teenage boys about how they have an equal share in that regret. It is important to talk to boys about what a real “consent” from a girl means. Here is a post I have stolen from one of friend’s wall on Facebook, which says that “only an informed, sober, freely-given, ongoing, enthusiastic “Yes!” is a consent.” http://cantcatchthesloth.tumblr.com/post/62002002650/the-complete-set-of-posters-made-by-students-at

I think this is the most important message to be given to young boys before prom-buzz bombards their screens and minds. As I have shared in our introduction, my research is directed towards parent-child communication, and many parents have shared this with me that they do not have a time set aside for “substance abuse talk”, or “sex talk”, but they fit-in advice during everyday conversations. There are a couple of things that you can include in your everyday conversations, so that you do not have to hold a “prom talk” a night before! Some myths you can dispel through these conversations are:

  1. Girls are waiting to be picked up, and even when they say “no” it means yes. Talk to your teenage boys about the posters I showed before, discuss what “real” consent means.
  2. She said “no” because I am not sexy enough, hence I should prove that I am sexy.  If she said no, she just does not want it. It has nothing to do with a boy’s “manliness”
  3. Having sex means he is a “man”. It is high time to educate boys that men do a lot more things other than hunting for most beautiful women, and having sex.
  4. It is fun to be forceful, a man should be “wild”. Well, that was probably true for the caveman, probably!

Overall, make it more human and realistic for your teenage boys and care for them as much as you care for your teenage daughters. One thing that the expert on Fox News says, which is really useful is that even though you think that your child is checking out and not listening to you, you are the most influential person in your child’s life, and they do listen!

This time I picked up something which is not discussed in the media or social circles. I would highly appreciate if you can voice your particular concerns, or leave comments and questions for this blog post. It is all about clearing the blurred reflections that your child is seeing in the mirror of media and society. We really need to take this further!

 

 

Modern Family-Times are Changing!

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By: Joshua Hintz

So far in this blog we have analyzed several different types of media in our society, but I want to continue this pattern because there is simply so much to analyze! But rather than criticizing something to persuade you and your teen away from something, I want to do just the opposite. Encourage some quality family bonding time while watching: Modern Family!

For those of you who unfamiliar with Modern Family, it is a TV series that plays the lives of one major family, but three different types of individual families within the family. There is Phil and Claire with their three kids, known as the most popular ‘nuclear family’ in our culture. A nuclear family is a husband, wife, and their children. Then there is Jay and Gloria with Gloria’s son from a past marriage. This family dynamic is interesting because Jay is the rich older gentleman that ‘caught’ the young beautiful woman.  Finally, there is Mitch and Cam. They are two adorable gay males, recently engaged on the show! (Sorry if I just ruined the show for you).

Trailer-Modern Family ****The trailer if you have not seen the show yet!****

What is so important about Modern Family, you ask? Just that: it is about Modern Families. For generations our culture and society has only valued the Nuclear family mentioned above. A young man is expected to marry young women, where her only role is to reproduce children and take care of them. After reading our blog up to this point, hopefully it is obvious that strict gender roles can be harmful to young adults and relationships.

There is NOTHING wrong with the Nuclear Family! By all means, if your son/daughter is heterosexual, falls in love, and can produce children then good for them. Being a gay man myself, that is not possible. Seeing Cam and Mitch live a fantastic relationship on a television show makes my heart warm. Unlike other past ‘gay’ television shows such as The New Normal, which quit airing after the first season, Modern Family has a balance between serious matters and a good laugh to make light of the issues at hand.

I have talked to a couple parents that do not allow their children to watch this TV show. They say it interferes with the religion they identify with and their children don’t need to hear about the ‘crap’ going on out there. I respect their opinions, as they respect mine, but I disagree. The culture we live in is changing quickly, and being knowledgeable about how it is changing can be helpful. If your son/daughter is a homosexual or at least tossing the idea around in their head, knowing their family is open to watching Modern Family can really help build a connection with them and yourself.

Throughout middle school and high school, children are reading messages from all sorts of media. Cosmopolitan magazines are constantly reinforcing heternormativity, the belief that being straight is the only correct way to live in society. Or TV shows such as MTV where young men are taught that it’s ok to view women as sexual objects, passing one up after another. Modern Family really hits on subjects that are crucial in a happy life. Mitch and Cam may have a sarcastic relationship at times, to the point where I tell my boyfriend I think they are too mean to each other, but they are loyal and faithful to each other.

Gloria and Jay may have a generation difference, but how they deal with the grandchildren is inspiring. Phil and Clair are often arguing about something petty, but at the end of the day, they come home to each other with open arms and are there for one another. Let’s not forget about the children though! These children are likely to be in the same age category as your kids, and can have a direct impact on your daughters/sons.

There are two girls and a son in Phil and Clair’s family. The oldest daughter is the typical ‘bad’ stereotype girl who is more thrilled for college party life than anything else. The middle daughter is a book worm who dedicates most of her time to studies and could not care less about being popular.

The youngest son is a goofball. He and Phil have a unique bond that words cannot explain. His mind is constantly thinking of the weirdest, most original things, which is, in return, adorable. Gloria has a son from a previous marriage who is the same age as Clair’s youngest son, and he has the sophistication of a well-educated 22 year old college graduate.

My point is that no matter what character your child has, they will be able to relate somehow to a character on the show. If my points were not clear already, I will restate them briefly. The way families are viewed in our culture is changing. The Nuclear family is no longer the preferred type, and Modern Family really brings attention to that. Yes, there is a gay couple on the show, but that is also becoming more accepted as the days pass on. As a group, we would strongly encourage some family time watching a season of Modern Family. Feel free to ask your children some of the hard questions, such as: ‘how do you feel about that family?’ ‘Ah, do you understand that Mitch and Cam are gay?’ ‘Do you enjoy this show?’ And if you get addicted like me, the fifth season is just being aired. Go grab the previous for, some popcorn, and have endless laughs!

Teen Mom and The Talk

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The show Teen Mom on MTV has been aired since December of 2009. It has been a popular show among teens in the United States. Teen mom has had a total of 4 seasons and 46 episodes, and is a spin off of the MTV original show 16 and pregnant. Many parents are concerned with letting their teenagers watch this show, because of their views on teenage pregnancy. You may think that it is harmful for your kids to be watching the aftermath of premarital sex but in all reality it is the perfect gateway for you to have discussions with your teens about sex.

Lets get real, I am a young adult, fresh out of high school, and I can tell you that teens are having sex, if they choose so, no matter what they are watching on TV. They are growing up in a world that surrounds them with sex whether it is on

TV, in magazines, on Facebook, in advertising, etc. Unless you put your kids a box as soon as they came out of the womb… they see it and take it all in.  It is a subconscious process, and that is why it is important to have comprehensive sex talks with your kids. During this sex talk, feel free to mention those harmful gender norms that are strongly portrayed on TV channels such as MTV. As we have explained in previous blog entries and will continue to do, these messages can be harmful to your teen.Wouldn’t you rather have them learning this stuff from you (in the correct way), than learning it from a magazine?

Many parents are having trouble with this concept because they don’t want to “encourage” their teens to have sex.  Also, many parents feel like the sex talk should consist of “Don’t have sex” and “We expect you to make good choices and wait until you are married.” Yes I understand that these are your kids and you don’t want them to make the wrong decisions or be hurt by someone else but it is important that they feel safe enough to come to you when they need guidance aka. Contraception.

Some parents may think that they are getting the education that they need in school but this is not the case. Learning what a penis and what a vagina consists of is not as helpful as talking about the responsibilities or consequences. Plus, your kids may n
Talking with teens about sex is a very important/uncomfortable topic. That is why shows like Teen Mom and 16 and pregnant are the perfect way to bring up a discussion with your teenagers. At the end of every show there are hotline numbers and website information that you can call, or look up, for any questions regarding teen sex, contraception, and STIs (sexually transmitted disease).ot feel comfortable asking questions in a sex ed. class.

The show gives examples of how teen parents sometimes end up in places they never expected. Many of the girls were having trouble finishing school (both high school and college). Almost all of the relationships with the mothers and fathers did not last after the child was born, and many had to deal with custody issues. What I am trying to say is that the show does not make teen pregnancy look glamorous by any means.

When I used to watch this show my mom would always tell me, “Why do you watch this crap, all this does is make kids wanna’ have babies when they are in high school” However, the reality was different. My friends and me would follow the characters and almost feel bad for them. Many times during the show the teen moms would say they wish they would have used a condom, or they wish they had been on birth control. This gave us the incentive that we needed to use these contraceptives when we decided to have sex because the myths about “pulling out” or “its okay to not use a condom every time” were proven false by the stories of this show. These are the topics that I feel are very important to talk about with your kids.

Another reason why Teen Mom is such a great tool for topic of discussion is the fact that many of the girls from the show are using their “celebrity” power to work with organizations in educating young adults on sex.  I follow Maci Bookout (Teen Mom star) on Instagram and Twitter and she is constantly uploading information on those social media sites, along with sharing her stories about how she travels to high schoo

 

ls around the country to educate teens on sex.

Teen Mom Stars show their support

Your teen may be making these decisions, and it is important to support him or her in their choices. If they ask for your advice or opinion then you should give it but, make sure the decisions are being made by them. Use outlets to have the discussion with your kids and do it from a means in which they will understand. Using social media, and television shows are a great way to start.

More information about talking with your kids about sex