Understanding today's teenage culture
Dealing with today's teenaged children can be very taxing for parents. Here’s how a little love and understanding can improve your relationship with your teenager.
Weeks ago, my friends and I had a very interesting but disturbing discussion about the beliefs, attitudes and values of young people these days. My friends who are teachers mentioned that many of their students are open to having sex not just with their boyfriend or girlfriend but with anyone.
It is very sad that today’s youth has become so liberated that they think having sex is cool and it’s normal because everyone else of their age is doing it. And this is attributed to the media and the Internet which has exposed children and adolescents to pornography and sex according to Carol Balhetchet, the Director for Youth Services of Children’s Society in Singapore. In fact, there was a student who recently posted on her blog topless pictures of herself with her boyfriend. Likewise, we recently wrote an article on another student here who blogged about her first foursome.
These and more are harsh realities that Singaporean parents have to face. The young adults of today are exposed to these and they have emulated what they see and hear. Thus, their beliefs, attitudes and values to something special and sacred such as sex have deteriorated. I have read on our forum that the display of nude pictures on the internet is no longer unusual. In one of the comments, it says: “We are ‘westernised’ in our thinking nowadays.” Yes, it is common knowledge that Singapore is considered a gateway of the East and the West but have we really gone too far in becoming liberated about sex and morality? Is the culture of today’s youth really different from those of the older generation? How do parents act on this? Should we just allow our children to follow what other young people are doing?
As a parent, this phenomenon has disturbed me. What will happen to my children if they are exposed to sex and pornography at a very young age and what if they engage on it early? I would probably go nuts. I don’t want my children to ruin their future and their lives. So, what should I and parents like me do? After contemplating, I have resolved to do the following:
Express your love and care to your children through words and actions in every opportunity. This is one thing my husband and I have come to realize based on our analysis of what is going on with today’s younger generation. Children need to feel that they are loved and they belonged to the family. If parents do not give to them what they need, they will look for it elsewhere and usually into the arms of the wrong person. They will think that by having sex with another person will make them feel loved but will end up regretting it. So parents, give time to show to your children that you love them and you care for them not just in word but also in deed.
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Talk to them about sex and relationships at an early age. Explain to them the consequences of having sex when they are still young. Open up their eyes to the disadvantages of engaging in it and what they can do to prevent it.
Limit exposure to the media and the Internet. As much as possible, keep your children away from watching too much television. If they should watch, regulate the TV programs they watch. As for the internet, be there to guide them and to monitor what they do. Do not allow them to use the Internet for as long as they want. Set limitations.
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Have an open communication with your children. As your children are growing up, cultivate an atmosphere at home where they can freely share their thoughts and feelings. If they tell you something unpleasant, don’t judge or condemn them quickly. Instead, allow them to open up and lead them to realize what is wrong and what is right without making them feel that they are restricted. In this way, you will be made aware of what is happening in their lives.
Be aware of the latest news and issues. Even if you are busy at work or at home, do not miss out on important news and issues that are going on in the neighbourhood, and in the country. Read the local and/or national newspaper. Read the latest books and magazines about the beliefs, values and attitudes of teenagers. Watch news on television. Read and participate in online forums especially parenting forums. Be updated with the latest events. Through these, you will understand what is affecting your child when they are outside the home and you will know what will affect you and your family.
These actions are just a few of the things that you can do as a parent to have a deeper understanding of your children’s culture and to be able to lead them to the right path. It may be difficult but it can be done. Good luck.