Sunday, January 11, 2015

Words not to describe a 7 year old


Dear People out there in the world,

We as parents of young children would like the opportunity to allow our children to stay as children for as long as possible.

This means that we don't really appreciate adult characters stylized in skanky clothes shaking their booties in cartoon programmes meant for children under 8.

It also means that we would like to ask the People in the fashion industry to please stop making mini versions of adult clothes for young kids. It won't be all that long before they are grown up enough to wear the adult versions.

And it really really means that if you are People who run courses for young kids like dance or modelling courses, please refrain from using the word 'SEXY' to describe how my child is supposed to move and make my child for terrible for failing to be 'sexy' enough in how she moves.

This was what happened when Jordan took part in a fashion show and modelling workshop for children under 10. We let her go because we thought it would be good fun and building some confidence along the way, which it did. But despite all the fun, her one take home had to do with the 'sexy' comment, unfortunately.
After all, she is only 7 and because we've raised all three children, not just our daughter, to understand that sexy is not something to be associated with children, she now feels very guilty for having followed the instructions of the trainer. We have instituted a rule in our household that the word sexy not be used to describe our children under any circumstance. And when the children talk about their own bodies or other people's bodies, it ought to be done with respect. The connotations of sexy have the idea of desirability mixed in with sex and a certain amount of sluttiness associated with it. All things that should not be part of a 7 year old's vernacular.

It doesn't matter if you need the child to strut down the run way and pose. There are tons of animal imagery that can be used to demonstrate to children how to strut (peacocks and apparently, even turkeys strut!) and pose (cats! Cats are good!) instead of invoking images that I hope to God these children have not been exposed to yet.

Children today already face such a gamut of challenges. We are already so worried about the pandemic of sexting that occurs with tweens that we don't need another source normalizing sex for younger and younger kids and putting pressure on them to be okay with it.

Miss Bour from Tulsa's "Think Before you Click" social media campaign
We like that our 7 year old daughter reads Star Wars comics, transforms Autobots with her brothers and engages in light sabre battles both imaginary and real with them. We like that she has tea with her stuffed animals and makes up stories about ponies and animals. We like that when she plays pretend make up, she ties a piece of cloth round her waist, uses talcum powder on her face and markers on her finger nails.

We love that she improvises and has the child like sense of wonder in her eyes.

What we did not love was that even when she went to bed a week after the workshop, it was still bugging her enough to keep her up; that she was so confused because what she was taught at home and was expected to do outside were in conflict with one another. We hated that she could not sleep because she was thinking about how she had failed at what the trainer told her to do but doing more was something she couldn't muster, making her feel inadequate. And what we totally and utterly hated was her distress trying to reconcile this criticism and expectation with that budding moral compass she had growing inside her and coming up confused and distressed. 

Many out there may say that we attended this out of our own volition and think us as prudes. Many may think that our way of child rearing is antiquated in this day and age but this is how we choose to do it. Many may also accuse us of being ridiculously puritanical in the way we bring up our children and they might grow up sexually repressed, Amish in the future. I hope not. I hope that when the time is right and when they are old enough and with the right people, they have wonderfully physically intimate relationships. But to us and right now, for the want of a better phrase, it's all about being age appropriate and there are some things that aren't. And for now, at 7, these are some of the things that aren't.

So, we're asking all those out there who deal with little kids in one way or other, please think of what message you are sending across when you say certain things to them. Some other parents may not mind or may laugh it off but not all parents will and not all kids will either.

Yours truly,

Parents from another age.


  1. Oh yes! Well written! Totally with you on this one. It's crazy the type of language people used when interacting with or around children, not to mention how much they are forced to grow up. Sigh....