FYI (if you’re teenage girl) A Response from a Mom of Boys

20120915_132929Dear Mrs. Hall,

My letter is in response to your post: FYI (if you’re a teenage girl).

Mrs. Hall, I congratulate you in doing a fine job in raising great men. It is always a pleasure to meet another mom who is leaving a legacy of compassionate, respectful and responsible men. I read your post and thought it was a well-written and thoughtful  letter to teen girls.  I appreciate how you approached the topic with love and candor.  Your letter was indeed a wake-up call to teen girls and their parents.

It’s unfortunate that so many people missed the points you were making because they were obsessing over your picture of your sons in swimsuits.

I wanted to share some thoughts with you( mom to mom) about how we can all help teen boys and girls to have self-respect, make better decisions, and use social media responsibly.

We were teens (not that long ago) and fortunately we did not have social media to capture some of our antics or poor decisions. I can speak for myself but I remember wearing short skirts to draw the attention of boys. I never went to the extreme but when my friends and I noticed what guys liked, we would make subtle changes to get attention.

As a mom of two boys, one a teenager, I want to believe that my sons will always make the right decisions. But let’s be honest, a teen brain isn’t fully developed and teens can make less than rational choices. Although, we are instilling in our sons  the importance of love,  integrity, honesty, and empathy, we are not living in a teen boy’s world. As much as our teen son shares with us, there’s still some information he keeps to himself.

There are many honorable, respectful young men out there but even they sometimes get caught up in doing less than honorable things. I’ve worked with teen boys and most have been honest enough to tell me that they have passed along to their friends private photos of teen girls..  They felt they were claiming their alpha male status and didn’t see the harm in sharing the picture.

We have to ask ourselves: Why do these teen girls feel the need to take half-naked pictures in sultry positions? Perhaps instead of putting the responsibility on girls, we have to talk with our sons about objectification of women. There is a culture standard of sexy that teens feel they have to live up to. When teen girls see themselves as  “parts of a body” instead of whole and complete, they justify the need to be an object of desire for teen boys. We need to teach our sons to see these girls as “whole” and not just body parts. Yes, easier said than done when dealing with teens and raging hormones.

We can not dismiss the fact that as a society we contribute to this objectification and our sons aren’t always innocent bystanders.    We need to explain to them why these girls are taking these pictures. Yes, it’s important to tell teen girls to be a “real beauty inside and out” but we also have to teach our sons to be gentlemen.

Have you asked your sons what they think about these pictures or do you take it upon yourself to voice your disapproval? I would hope that they would take it upon themselves to block these girls as oppose to you doing it for them.

Our kids are living in a different time and are exposed to the media’s continuous objectification and sexualization of teen boys and girls. We can’t just expect to block people or sites to protect them. We must have honest conversations with our sons about sex and porn. We have to bear the responsibility of what we’re teaching our sons and daughters about the opposite sex.

Let’s continue the good fight to raise men and women of character.

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