When did it happen? When did common sense die? In all fairness, I have been on the business end of the statement, “You have book smarts but no common sense, ” more times than I want to remember. So, it's a safe bet, when I can see that common sense is dead, it died a horrible gruesome and spectacular death. Today, I offer you an autopsy.
We spend an inordinate amount of time, money and pain on the “makeover. ” Why? We are told that we do it to improve ourselves. Is that really true? Aren’t many of the things that are supposed to “improve” lives things that just distract us from the real issue?
Recently, I have become aware of parents financing breast augmentations for their teenage daughters. Come on now. What teenage brain is developed enough to correctly identify when the source of their problem is cup size? Parents that support this idea often consider themselves as indulgent parents. They consider themselves as their child’s friend. This is actually two issues: at what point did we stop telling our children that it is who they are that is important and who in their right mind thinks it is more important to be a friend to your child than a parent?
It has been the way of the world that teenage years are the trial ground for personality testing, ethics testing and personal style development. The moral of The Lord of the Flies is unabated children are a reflection of raw human nature. Parenting is about making sure that they reach maturity and cultivating critical thinking skills. In theory, we teach our children to be the most complete “them” they can be without encroaching upon boundaries of others. I have heard that children learn what they live. If this is true, then what parents are apparently teaching their children appears to be that there are 12 acceptable people in the world and they need to pick one of them and let the pretending begin.
Human beings are gregarious. We prove this in study after study. We need the esteem of our peers. Some of us appear to want the adoration of the world and are quite disheartened if there are any dissenters. The need for acceptance, esteem, must be balanced by the need for self-acceptance, self-esteem. Our daughters see how the world seems to fawn over Pamela Anderson’s breasts and, despite the public nature of her private life, our daughters fail to see that these same breasts did not resolve the most intimate relationship issues that she faced.
By allowing the issue to be about a girl’s breast not being the “right” size, we side step the primary issue which is they are what they are. A girl is not her breasts nor do they define any aspect of her other than themselves as breasts. How can adults who cannot do this for themselves find it within them to do so for their daughters? They achieve this feat by behaving like parents.
I remember several occasions when I was a teenager that my own mother reminded me, “I am not your friend, I am your mother!” I recall thinking to myself that it was certainly true because no friend would treat me the way she did. We were both quite correct. Teenage friends are unlikely to tell you the truth when it is to their disadvantage to do so. Teenage friendships can be tenuous because they are fleeting, often based on the consensus of several minds wildly in flux. Friends are selected by criteria and change or growth can mean the end of the relationship. Parents promote growth and stay for the good, the bad and the 2 am phone call to come pick you up because your friend took off without you phone call.
These are the same minds that too often confuse the dependence of infancy for love. The girl, who fails to find her own self-esteem and is dissatisfied with her perception of the esteem of others, seeks to create a person who will fill this need. The result is too often teen pregnancy. How quickly does the girl who thought she would have a baby so someone would love exclusively her discover the egocentric world her in which her baby lives? The teenage mind no matter how bright, no matter how precocious is still an immature mind subjugated by the ebb and flow of estrogen and testosterone.
Sometimes the truth hurts. Life is always hard. “Everybody” is never going to like you. And, Elvis really is dead. What corrupts the innocence of childhood is the fact of life. We are all compelled to move forward from the fantasy to the reality. When the teenage mind recognizes this shift occurring and attempts to rationalize it, you end up with things like wearing pale white makeup, jet black hair and the monotone recital of death dirges formatted as haikus. The guidance of an adult mind, the parental mind, can make that journey from the fantasy of childhood a transition to the wonder of reality. The world that we live in has more magic than any concocted or naïve version of it could ever have.
In short, (I know, it’s a little late for that) consider the lily. Then, let’s consider our daughters and let them know the true beauty and wonder that they are … just as they are.
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