Dare to Let Them Grow up Slow.

Children are growing too fast, period.  For a while, it was something to scoff at or roll our eyes about.  It seemed pretty innocent at first, with a few brand name companies offering children’s lines.  But there’s more to the story.

Kids growing up fast is really about the generation gap it leaves behind.  It’s the whole “Grease” spoof – kids are crazy and rebellious, parents just don’t understand.  It used to start in the teen years.  Not anymore.   Pre-teen pregnancy (yes, PRE-teen) is on the rise, youth depression and alcohol and drug abuse is reported more often than ever in history, and suicide rates are at all-time high among very young tweens and teens.  More and more disconnected families are falling apart.  It’s time we really took a critical look at how the media and pop-culture is affecting our kids when it comes to growing up.  Young children are trying to live ‘teen’ lives, parents are allowing it, and we’re paying the price. 

Kid Culture is the new coin phrase.  It’s all about creating your image through the consumption of a multitude of ‘stuff’ starting in the baby years with brands marketing clothing and name-brand products to infants and toddlers via their parents.

These days, innocent children are being pushed into a category the marketing world coined “tweens” as young as age eight. 

EIGHT.    What many parents don’t understand is, the whole concept of ‘tween’ culture bubbled out of the greed of several business execs.  Looking at trends in teen spending on things like clothing, accessories, and electronics, the ‘big guys’ figured they could make a lot more money if they got young kids hooked on consumerism at an earlier age.  About a decade ago, we saw the ‘tween’ market explode for the typical 12-13 year olds.  But that wasn’t good enough.

Companies pushed for younger and younger crowds, sucking up every last penny out of a mindless materialistic society willing to buy anything the world said their kid just had to have.   So now, it’s normal for girls in second grade to bug Mom for a push-up bikini and skinny jeans.  And it’s normal for young children to worry endlessly about what they wear to school and whether it will be ‘cool’ or acceptable to their peers.  This is normal.  And it’s normal to consume.  All the time.  Whatever makes you feel ‘good’.  Whatever helps you create yourself.  And millions of kids are growing up believing that they are what they buy.  What kind of adults will these children be?  Where are we heading?

We’ve chosen to stand apart. 
We’re nothing special.  We just see the chaos the world is throwing at us when it comes to how we’re ‘supposed’ to raise our children.  We’ve decided to say no to the world.  We believe in keeping our children innocent for as long as we can.  Our kids have no idea what a brand name is.  They have no concept that what they wear makes any difference at all.  And to us, it doesn’t.  It shouldn’t. Our kids wear what they want, no matter what.   
Why, parents, do our children need to be fed this garbage?  Why are they being bred to be consuming machines, buying up everything they can to feed their need to ‘fit in’?  How can we stand apart in this crazy world?  Isn’t it an impossible task?  Isn’t it useless to even try to fight the beast which is pop-culture?
No it isn’t impossible, and no, it isn’t useless.  As parents, we choose how to raise our children.  And as for me and my family, we’re letting them grow up slow.  We’re keeping them away from negative influences like popular music, television,  kid-marketed movies, Disney, commercials, the Mall, kid-stores, and the list goes on.  That’s right, our family doesn’t go to the Mall.  We are choosing to stand apart so we can foster our family’s love of God, nature, and the simple things.  We strive to build up their confidence, love of others, and true, soul-gripping sense of self through our faith in Jesus and their connection to family and nature.  Contrary to what Pop-culture says, for us, it’s about learning how not to consume and through our un-consumption, growing our own sense of purpose in this crazy world.  
As they grow, we will teach our children to have the ability to make their own good decisions about products.  They will be taught (and are already be taught) what marketing is and how advertisers us tactics to manipulate people to consume. It’s vital that parents educate their children in this way if they want their children to grow up savvy about how this world wants to dictate to us how to live.
But we need to let children be children.  I believe we are called to shelter them from the corrupt chaos which is Pop-culture consumption.  There will come a day when their eyes will be opened and they will have to flex those strengthened muscles of self-discipline and discernment.  But gosh, not at age six.



  • Mrs. Stam

    I totally agree with this post! Trying to sexuallise young ladies and addicting them to "fit" in a "get more stuff" is bad!

    Our little one thinks clothes comes in bag when people drop them on our door steps LOL For them it's fun, they like sorting and getting new to them clothes

    We are very bless to live in the country away from the malls and stores 🙂

  • Julie Anne

    okay, that had to be more than five minutes! But it is filled with truth! It's been a battle for me to find clothes that are age appropriate (and modest) for my girls!! always trying to remember to let my kids be kids!!

  • Aja

    I feel largely the same way you do, although we do have a TV and we do go to the mall. Plus, living in Central Florida it's pretty much impossible to keep my children from knowing what Disney is. Even the Children's Hospital is Disney! Sigh.

    But we have a few things going for us in that we're not afraid to say no to our kids. So even if they know what Disney, or TV is, they're told no to it more often than not. We're also determined to have them grow up differently than most, and even now we try and have age appropriate (my oldest is 2.5, but very smart) conversations about what the world wants vs what's important to us and to God. It's a challenge for sure, but our kids are worth it!

  • Ann

    I totally agree with you on letting our kids grow up slowly. My girls are 11 and 14 and are nowhere near like their 11 and 14 yr-old counterparts in our neighborhood. My problem is how do I get them clothes without exposing them to the mall, which we hate? We do shop at Goodwilletc but we can't always find what we need. Any ideas?
    We don't watch a lot of tv, mostly just football and an occasional documentary, we do watch a few select shows on netflix. Both my girls are conditioned to look away when someone is dressed immodestly, or there is unnecessary kissing etc on the screen which protects them from the stuff I can't filter out…advertisements, friends houses, etc.

  • Anonymous

    I'm embarrassed to bring my four year old boy to the mall with all the degrading images of women clothing companies plaster on their walls.

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