Mike Cope's blog

Friday, January 07, 2005

"TEEN BREAST IMPLANTS." That's the title of an article I read recently by a Knight Ridder reporter. I'd read a similar article a few months ago in the LA Times about junior high students in Southern California getting breast implants. Before I blather on, let me say something to readers who have maybe already had surgery for breast augmentation. That's not exactly what I'm writing about. When a man decides to get hair plugs or a woman gets breast implants-- well, that's a personal decision. I can imagine that for some people it helped deal with issues of low self-esteem. Some of them probably even knew that this wouldn't fix the deeper problems, but it still seemed to help. So, please don't read this column and feel a lot of guilt. But what does it say about our society that so many teenager girls are feeling the need to get "boob jobs"? Everywhere they look they see "perfect" models: on The O.C., on magazine covers, on MTV videos. What they don't see is the dysfunction that's often behind those models (eating disorders leading the list). The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that 32,000 women in America got breast implants in 1992. Last year the number was 247,000. But here is the really disturbing figure: there was a jump in the number of girls 18 and younger from 3872 in 2002 to 11,326 in 2003. The article I referred to above is about girls who are asking for bigger breasts as graduation presents. (At this point I'm wondering: can a Church of Christ minister even write about this? But I press on . . . .) We live in a culture that values the exterior. We obsess on accidents of birth. What would a culture look like that values compassion, forgiveness, and unconditional love over curves, low body fat, and athletic prowess? That's where the church comes in! We are the ones who follow Jesus Christ, the teacher who keep focusing on the heart. He reflected the words of God: "The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." There are readers of this blog who are parents, teachers, coaches, cheerleading sponsors, etc. What a great place for you to be! You have a chance to teach and model our belief that it is the character being formed within that really defines a person--not the shape of the body. I still love the song Steven Curtis Chapman wrote for his daughter: I can see the tears filling your eyes And I know where they’re coming from They’re coming from a heart that’s broken in two By what you don’t see The person in the mirror Doesn’t look like the magazine Oh but when I look at you it’s clear to me that I can see the fingerprints of God When I look at you I can see the fingerprints of God And I know it’s true You’re a masterpiece That all creation quietly applauds And you’re covered with the fingerprints of God Never has there been and never again Will there be another you Fashioned by God’s hand And perfectly planned To be just who you are And what he’s been creating Since the first beat of your heart Is a living breathing priceless work of art and Just look at you You’re a wonder in the making Oh and God’s not through no In fact he’s just getting started . . . . Today I'd like to ask for lots of comments. Let's help one another. What suggestions do you have (from reading, observing, or--even better--from experience) for helping us raise our sons and daughters to buy into better values, to resist the Britneyization of our teen culture, and to feel comfortable in their skin?

51 Comments:

  • Mike,
    After prayer, I think the most critical thing we can do as parents is to begin this (any/all) dialogue early. That allows us as parents to have a healthy line of communication open with our children that can be utilized later (teen years) to discuss the more difficult topics-- like this. I started telling my daughter how beautiful she was the day she was born, and I tell her many times everyday. I also try to spend lots of time building her up in many other ways (her other talents, accomplishments, good friend choices, her spritual walk, etc.). Now that she is in Middle School and is a cheerleader-- and is flirting with idea of having a boyfriend-- all of this becomes so much more important and critical. My daughter opens up a lot to me about what other people at school are saying, doing,etc. Then I always ask her two questions: 1) what do you think about that? 2) what are you saying and doing? I'm sure I've got lots to learn and some real surprises and maybe even some rude awakenings and heartaches to follow-- but so far this technique is working. I think it helps that we pray together every night, too. And they are pretty long and specific prayers. Blessings! sd

    By Blogger SkipD, at 1/07/2005 05:56:00 AM  

  • As a father of five (aged 21 - 8) this has been a big concern of mine for a long time, and I think SkipD's comments are right on. Involvement (time and concern)in your kids' lives will be the biggest factor in building their self esteem to the point that they don't need to consider superficial things to build that. Most of us have read and heard about the effect of a good father/daughter relationship and avoiding promiscuity on the part of the daughter, and this plays out in other ways as well. Kids "catch" the values of the parents, and if the parents are prominent in their lives, they will reflect it, so they must see in our lives more value placed on being real than being pretty. Those aren't mutually exclusive, but can become that if we aren't careful.

    The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.

    By Blogger don, at 1/07/2005 06:21:00 AM  

  • Mike,
    Good post and one that hopefully will be oft repeated.

    You will receive some great parental suggestions from your blog family, such as those given by Skip. I'm sure someone will also mention the trap we sometimes fall into when we dress our our little girls [pre-school and up] in those "cute" little outfits that replicate the latest Brittany costume.

    As I see it, there are three areas we need to cover in order to help our children battle the onslaught of modern "culture" - such as:

    1-Parental involvement and parenting skills, such as has already been mentioned, by grounding our kids in what God wants of us.
    2-Parental role modeling. IOW - "Do as I do, as well as what I say."
    3-Proactive involvement with businesses. If we do not vocalize our objections, disgust, you name it, with some of the advertizing ads and the soft porn promoted in so many TV programs and movies, we are crippling our attempts to carry out numbers 1 and 2 above.

    Phone calls, emails, letters need to be made and written expressing our reactions. It works! Look at the turn around as a result of the outcry re. last year's Super Bowl 1/2 time fiasco.

    A few years ago, one of the leading soft drink companies came out with a new ad that projected more than a little 'sexual tension' in its content. Parents all over the country buried the company in complaints and the ad was withdrawn after less than 2 weeks of airing. The same happened to Calvin Klein and his kiddy porn ads - they were withdrawn after parental outcry and drop in sales.

    Powerful combination of weaponry; the Bible, our voices, and our wallets.

    By Blogger Kathy, at 1/07/2005 06:36:00 AM  

  • Timely thoughts. I don't know what the real answers are. I have two daughters, 16 and 11 and I work as a labor and delivery nurse who has seen more than her share of teenage pregnancy. I wish there was a quick fix to all this but our society is putting a burden on women that is too heavy to carry. Women are not supposed to look like they are 40, or 50, or even 25, for that matter...we are all supposed to look like we are 16...which of course is impossible. I think the less we talk about appearance, the less important it becomes. We need to make a pact with our female friends...no talking about weight or appearance....ever. There is so much more out there that needs to engage our brains and our hearts. I am so for healthiness and taking care of ourselves but that is not what the culture around us has promoted. In some ways, I am afraid for my daughters but in other ways, I know that they have so many gifts and can be as stubborn as their mother when it comes to conforming. I know that will help them with dealing with our society's demands on them.
    I am also the mother of two sons, 20 and 22. This problem lies just as much with how we raise our sons as how we raise our daughters. What do they think women should look like? How much worth do they place on women and their gifts? What kind of women do they date? What kind of women are their friends?
    Our children watch us from the time they are born and they learn more from what we do than what we say. What kind of example do we set for them? I know that I haven't always set the best example in this area...worrying about what I look like and not liking to be in pictures and worrying about which clothes look better than others on me. It is something I continually have to watch in myself.
    Sorry...I could go on and on about this topic...so much more to it than a few paragraphs.
    grace, Julie

    By Blogger julie, at 1/07/2005 07:10:00 AM  

  • Mike:
    Thank you again for your thoughts on this issue. I am going to go ahead and throw out a little more extreme point. I agree with the first two posts that time spent with the children is such a critical element to demonstrate love and to guard self-esteem. As we look at the current culture and the focus on the outward appearance, I think that we need to be more decerning in the area of dating. Granted, I only have young children at this time....8, 6, 4, and due any time. But, what are we thinking throwing our children into the talk of boys/girls and dating at such an early age. I will go as far as to ask what is the value of one-on-one dating in the jr. high and high school years. I remember all too clearly the thoughts and desires of myself as a strapping 16-18 year old young man. How are we leading our children appropriately by throwing them into the middle of the hormonal laden dating seen. I think that we should teach very early about those values of purity, modestly, compassion, and love, but I do not think that it is apprpriate to teach these things and then to allow dating situations where the superficial is valued above all. We need to be certain to be consistent with guarding the hearts of our children.

    Shawn

    By Blogger Shawn, at 1/07/2005 07:24:00 AM  

  • "Can a Church of Christ minister write about this?" I don't know, but maybe you could contact Dave Barry's people just in case.(:

    I have a problem when my 17 year old plucks her eyebrows! Also, my sophomore, youth and family ministry major son comes home and tells me about some of his fellow Bible majors who are getting religious oriented tatoos. What's up with that?

    Just a hunch, it may be that our current youth culture's moral proclivities may have more to do with what the grandparents did than the parents. The pendulum swings!

    A simple guide for parenting from Ken Canfield, President of the National Center for Fathering:

    I nvolvement
    C onsistentcy
    A wareness
    N urturing

    I like to think of the I can's in this way:
    "I can do all things through Christ" who empowers me to be a good father.

    By Blogger David Michael, at 1/07/2005 07:24:00 AM  

  • Wow...never thought the day would come would I would open Mike Cope's blog to find the heading "Teen Breast Implants." I really think that a major problem that coincides with this is that boys need to become men. We have an absence of men in our society. I have met way to many middle aged boys who are still consumed with the appearances of the opposite sex. You know the guys I'm talking about. I have known, true story, a man who bought his highschool age son a hottub so that he would bring his cheerleader friends over to go hottubbing. No wonder so many younger girls feel this way. We need a shift in our society from boys to men. This is a problem in the church as well as the rest of society.

    By Blogger Brandon Moore, at 1/07/2005 07:25:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    Our daughters, sisters, and female friends notice when their fathers, brothers, and male friends cast a long glance at a girl with bigger breasts than they (or simply accentuate them). My daughter needs to notice that I turn my head when the cashier leans over and reveals herself. She needs to notice that I don't pause switching channels because some woman more endowed than she is on the screen. If my daughter wants breasts like Ashley Simpson, it is very likely that she thinks the significant males in her life would think she would be prettier. If she thinks that, she's possibly been watching my eyes.

    By Blogger dagwud, at 1/07/2005 07:44:00 AM  

  • This ended up being somewhat of a novel rather than a comment, so bear with me! Mike, you once again touched my heart and reminded me of the great blessing of godly parents...

    I am a 24 year old who spent much of my teenage years struggling with bulimia and then anorexia. Being a parent now, I realize even more the fear that my own parents must have felt as they watched me lie in a hospital bed learning how to eat as an 18 year old.
    One thing that I would point out about eating disorders specifically is that so much of the disorder, while it is based in physical appearance and body image...so much of it really has to do with control. In my own personal experience, I felt that I could control nothing in my life. I had found a way to stay skinny by throwing up after each meal, and then people found out what was going on and began to follow me to the bathroom. So I decided, fine, I just won't eat. No one can MAKE me eat. I was in a total state of rebellion and self-destruction. I felt that this was the one area of my life that I was in which I had complete control. This was obviously proved wrong when I was admitted to the hospital after my 85 pound body collapsed with no one else at home but my terrified 13 year old brother.

    I have wonderful parents who stood by me each baby step of the way. They loved me unconditionally, but refused to let me throw my life away. They helped me to learn that being in control of my life was not my job. And that no matter how "in control" I might have felt, God's plans are always bigger than our own. How thankful I am now to be free of the bondage and pressure of feeling like I needed to do God's job!

    I am now the mother of a beautiful 5 month old who is a physical reminder every day to me of God's love. He has given me a whole new picture of the cross. It terrifies me to raise a child in this world, but I know, once again...I AM NOT IN CONTROL.

    It is an unfortunate reality that children and teens are going to struggle with self-image. It is also a reality that this struggle does not magically disappear when we become adults. I think that there it is so important to take an active role in our children's lives; to remind them that they are not only our children but that they are first God's children and that He loves them and has a plan for them. They should be told how beautiful and special they are, every single day. Even more, we should live our lives reflecting that love and submitting control to God.

    I do believe that parents need to talk to their children; to know what struggles they face. But the most effective thing that can be done is something that I am so thankful that my parents did for me. They lived as examples of Christ's love and devoted their lives to serving Him. They did not escape heartache, but always submitted control of the hard times to His will and plan. Thanks to their love and their faith in the Lord, I was delivered from the disease that enslaved me and given the chance to start a new life that was lived in the realization of the blessing of being out of control. I am not perfect and never will be...but I am free.

    I still struggle in other ways with the attempt to control things in my life. I worry about things that are not important like keeping my house spotless. I am still young and have so much to learn. I have been introduced to the responsibility for another human life, and appreciate all the more all of the sacrifices that my parents made and all of the prayers that they said. I am by no means an expert in parenting and do not attempt to give advice to people that have much more experience than I do. I just wanted to share the blessing that it was for me to have godly parents striving to do exactly what each of you are.

    I only hope that I can live my own life in a way that points my son toward the cross. It is my prayer that as my child grows, he will be more familiar with my head bowed in prayer than with my obsessive need to get the laundry done.

    By Blogger tine, at 1/07/2005 07:51:00 AM  

  • With the oldest being 5 now, we are just starting down this road. The plan is to continue to limit tv, and when it is on, to talk about what is being said (part of me doesn't want the tv in the house, but I guess I'm just not bold enough to pull the trigger on that decision just yet).

    I like the common-sense comments by Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) who is quite up-front about the amount of time and number of people that it takes for her to look presentable on television. Our kids need to undertand that what they are seeing is NOT REAL, not even a little bit. We need to teach them that the people on the screen do not look like that in real life. We also need to point out to our kids that tv often shows behavior without consequences, and the fun side of immorality without the pain that sin inflicts on the sinner as well as on innocent bystanders.

    I am saying nothing new, of course; I'm just reiterating the already-said comment that we need to be with our kids, and not let someone or something else be the primary influence.

    The fact that teenage girls are so unhappy with their boobs says that as a society, we are doing a poor job of that.

    God help me to practice what I preach.

    Jonathan

    By Blogger jds, at 1/07/2005 07:51:00 AM  

  • First, there is no one I would rather have speaking about it than a Church of Christ preacher.

    Second, as a father of a 20 year old girl and a 16 year old boy I try to focus on their place in this world. Couple times a month I get one of them out of bed at 5.00 a.m. to go help cook breakfast for the homeless. Each year they volunteer to work Special Olympics and work at a camp for underprivileged kids. There has been many time that they have gone in to their closet and got out some of their better items and given them away. These are the high points of their year.

    What I am trying to say is that we often spend a lot of time telling what they should not be, rather than showing them who's they are.

    By Blogger spot, at 1/07/2005 08:16:00 AM  

  • I am 5'4", 110 lbs., 30 yrs. old & a 34A. I have always wished that I had bigger boobs. I have always hated that women on TV had fake boobs because it was so deceiving, but at the same time I have wanted to have them too. In college I used to wear a button on my jacket that said "Silicone Free" as if it wasn't obvious. In the past, women used to physically hurt themselves wearing corsettes so that they would appear to have skinnier waists & bigger breasts. It's not an issue of today's society - it's just a new way to produce the same results. Society does not change very much. Are we any worse than the Ephesians? You've heard the old adage "Women use sex to get love & men use love to get sex." The cure is to learn what love REALLY means through the examples of Jesus & to teach that to our children. Love doesn't fixate on appearance. Love doesn't try to get anything in return. Love isn't bought or traded or bribed. When our children have been loved in this way, then they will grow up to love themselves in this way too. Then our girls won't try to make themselves "bigger & better" to obtain a love that they already have inside themselves.

    By Blogger Beaner, at 1/07/2005 08:41:00 AM  

  • I have three girls and one boy. The oldest girl is twelve. They are blessed to have a brilliant mother who has made a decision to give up a promising academic/professional career to give them a home education (a sacrifice that I grow to appreciate more and more all the time).

    However, because my kids are not in the schools every day, I am the last among this group to be qualified to address this issue. Thats not to say that the issue doesn't reach my girls (believe me, it does!). Its just to say that I think the rest of you have a much better idea about how the full brunt of this kind of pressure affects a young girl and her family.

    So I'm just trying to listen today, hoping to pick up a few pointers from the more battle-hardened.

    I've loved reading several of the comments today, especially Brandon's comments about boys versus men and comments from others about how important the father-daughter relationship is to a daughter's self esteem.

    Keep it coming!

    By Blogger Matt, at 1/07/2005 08:46:00 AM  

  • The frightening thing is how early this starts. In my second grade class last year I had a little girl who tried tell all the other girls who they could and could not befriend each day. If you had an "ugly" sweater, or you were having a bad hair day, etc., you were out! While it was sad, it did give me many "teachable moments".

    Our oldest daughter (soon to be 7), seemed to be born knowing and caring about what is fashionable. We are always trying to emphasize all her good qualities that aren't related to her appearance. I'm not sure she completely buys into it though, because after I went through a rather lengthy list of all her great qualities, she closed with "And, I'm in style!" She was about 4 at the time. I'm not giving up of course, but I think I'm going to have to go with the angle "it's okay to want to look good, but it's definitely not even close to being one of the important things in life." Any suggestions?

    By Blogger Kendra, at 1/07/2005 08:49:00 AM  

  • I'm back again...but that father/daughter comment made me think of a song that I love and that really does ring true...It's by John Mayer and is titled, "Daughters"

    The chorus goes...

    Fathers, be good to your daughters;
    Daughters will love like you do.
    Girls become lovers who turn into mothers;
    So mothers, be good to your daughters too.

    By Blogger tine, at 1/07/2005 08:55:00 AM  

  • The first and foremost lullaby I sang to my oldest granddaughter was Stephan Curtis Chapman's "Fingerprints of God".

    I am sitting over in the "Amen" section today. I like what has been said so far and most of it coincides with my own experience in raising kids.

    The topic, as well as the added insight and experience from the postings so far today, is better than "Oprah" and needs to reach outside the cyberwalls of this blog community.

    By Blogger Serena Voss, at 1/07/2005 09:08:00 AM  

  • Amen on Tine's comment. Years ago, when my kids were still young enough to go for rides on my shoulders, I heard Kregg Hood(fellow Harding bro)talk about parenting. He said something that has always stayed with me and helped me be a better father. He said that when his daughter is acting out inappropriately, it is a directly related to the amount of quality time spent with her (paraphrasing).

    As it relates to parenting children, how do you spell LOVE? T-I-M-E

    By Blogger David Michael, at 1/07/2005 09:39:00 AM  

  • A couple more insights to add to my comment above:

    1. My father has the calendars w/topless women on cars hanging in his auto shop. I worked in his shop one summer during high school - opinions were forming.

    2. I was a Theatre Major in college. I was turned down for a role even though I was the better dancer because I wouldn't fill the skimpy outfits.

    So when I am told that I am "just the right size" I have a very hard time believing it.

    By Blogger Beaner, at 1/07/2005 09:40:00 AM  

  • I hope to respond more fully later. But I've got to say this: most parenting books aren't half as good as the words you (plural - ya'll) are writing. It's holy ground.

    By Blogger Mike, at 1/07/2005 10:21:00 AM  

  • Jan and I raised two knot-head boys......so boob jobs weren't an option. I will say this.......I am glad that they were grown before the bombarding on TV of ten thousand new products for men regarding the concept of enhancing men's sexual abilities. To tell you the truth, I think males are getting as much or more attention than females these days! What brought that on?

    As far as raising our boys, I will never forget something Floyd Daniel told me one time. He said that TIME is the greatest sacrifice........because you can never get it back. So, like many others have said today, make time for your children. One other gem is from Adrian Hickmon. He tells of the Indian fable that tells of each person having two dogs inside them, a good dog and a bad dog. Which one is more dominate? It depends on which one you feed! Feeding the good dog is common sense, and it is also Biblical. "Set your hearts on things above". "Set your minds on things above, not earthly things"....both from Paul to the Colossians.

    I thank all of you for such wonderful insights today, and thanks Mike for making it all possible.

    Besides our salvation thru Christ, I think our children are the most precious gift God has given us.

    By Blogger David U, at 1/07/2005 11:14:00 AM  

  • I continue to follow this discussion with great interest.

    In keeping with my promise to stay out of the opinion-generating side of this discussion today, can I ask two questions of you - particularly the women out there?

    1. What role does the father-mother relationship play in all of this? Particularly with the way the husband expresses affection for the wife/mother? Is there anything to be said about the Gomez Adams approach to relating to one's wife? [G]
    2. Are there ways that I can encourage my 13 year old son to act to help his female/peers deal with these issues?

    By Blogger Matt, at 1/07/2005 11:28:00 AM  

  • I went to a public high school in the Bible Belt, graduated almost 14 years ago. These problems were around then, though the dress was not quite so revealing as it is now. First of all -- teach your daughters to cover themselves modestly, HOW to do that, and why.

    Teach your sons NOT to pop bra straps, NOT to pinch or grab girls' bottoms, and not to talk to girls about their gender-specific body parts, or at least teach them if/when it ever becomes appropriate to do so (after high school? When engaged? Or don't even discuss anything like that until marriage?) Teach your sons not to gang up with other guys and catcall girls about their body parts, even if it seems the girl is "asking for it". I knew a lot of church-going boys who participated regularly in all of the above behaviors and it was the norm. And all of the above happened to me as well as to many others, and we were expected to just take it, and even to be proud of the attention.

    Kids are often not taught what's okay to talk about regarding sexuality and what's okay to allow others to talk TO them about. The parents need to have a dialogue with the children about sexuality and not tiptoe around the subject as though it doesn't exist. And teach your daughters not to allow inappropriate behavior, but of course, that requires DEFINING inappropriate behaviors. I know conversations like that are uncomfortable, and I don't look forward to them myself, but who will talk to our children about such things if WE don't? (Such things were rarely discussed in my home because my parents never broached the subject. They had no idea kids at school were acting that way, and I was embarrassed to discuss it with them. And I had great parents.)

    And another thing ... I'd suggest that the girls who don't "need" breast implants struggle as much or more with their appearance as those who think they DO need implants, and that's because of the attention so freely offered by boys -- it's pretty confusing, especially to impressionable young girls hungry for approval. If approval comes in an inappropriate form, well, at least it comes. Approval is so important to even the most moral teenage girl, from both genders.

    Good subject, Mike. I could write a novel on my opinions on this one.

    By Blogger Clarissa, at 1/07/2005 12:39:00 PM  

  • There is so much more to it than vanity here. As a counselor who worked with eating disorders for several years, I realize it starts with looks, but when a child wants to get a boob job, you gotta wonder what else is going on in their lives such as control or lack of coping skills that lead them to this decision. First, the obvious, why would their parent allow this...but more importantly, what is going on in their lives that they feel it necessary to take such a drastic measures. I gotta tell you, it's so difficult being an adolescent girl. I get them in my office daily saying "what is going on with my body". It takes an understanding adult to sit down with them and discuss their fears and feelings helping them understand what these changes are all about. They have to accept their own bodies separate from anyone else's. Such an easy thing to write, but hard thing to actually accomplish.

    By Blogger Look at me, I'm Angie Dee, at 1/07/2005 12:54:00 PM  

  • All I know is I've got two C-section scars and about 30 more pounds than I had in high school, and I've never felt better about my looks than I have in the last 5 years or so. In fact, my favorite picture of myself is right after the birth of my first child. My face is all puffy and my eyes have a morphine glaze, but that picture captures the utter joy I experienced that day. I've shown that photo when speaking to teen girls about true beauty and happiness. My pictures from high school, when I was skinny as a rail and flat as a pancake (they called me "Kansas"), show an incredibly insecure girl who was never smiling. (Chad says, "You look like you were ticked off all four years of high school.") I think a new set of boobs wouldn't have changed that. I got 'em for free later anyway -- as a reward for breastfeeding my first child for a year. That's probably T.M.I. -- sorry. Anyway, believing you look good is more about what you feel than what you see. I have a husband who thinks I'm hot and tells me that often (sometimes right in the middle of COMMUNION) and, well, I believe him.

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 1/07/2005 01:23:00 PM  

  • Deana, you've just GOT to tell your fella that's not what's meant by "discerning the body"!

    By Blogger Keith Brenton, at 1/07/2005 01:36:00 PM  

  • I have a 6 year old daughter, Sierra. She's terrific. Cute as can be. Looks like my wife in a smaller version.

    She's learned recently about kissing boys, and that it is not the same as kisses good night and hugs-n-kisses from mom and dad. She thinks about it constantly, and occasionally let's mom and dad in on it. We talk about what she thinks about it and she gets really embarrassed. We don't push, but we do ask general questions (casually), probe a very little and then we say we'll talk more later. She's pretty good about actually bringing it up later. Nothing has to be resolved in one conversation or in the next ten minutes (Thanks Al Ogren for that advice).

    She's been exposed to Bratz, the cartoon icons of teen girlness, I guess. They show their bellies with their too-short shirts and have an attitude about them. She is very interested in them. "They are like real women," she says.

    So, we have talked about sending messages without words. Through clothes and attitudes and things like that. I told her that some of their clothes send the wrong message. "What message?" she asks. "Well," I say, "She might be accidentally telling the boys that she wants them to kiss her." I was struggling and that's what came out.

    Now guess what the gospel truth is: Any girl showing he mid section in any way (even girls in her Sunday school class) are trying to get the boys to kiss them. There are some significant flaws in my appraoch so far, but unlearning the gospel truth is a tough row to hoe. The saga continues.

    ON ANOTHER NOTE: Mary Pipher, in her book REVIVING OPHELIA, says that teenage girls are prone to causes. They will throw themselves into a cause of care or concern. Perhaps tapping into that energy and giving it some support and guidance can help a teenage girl to focus on service rather than focus on self. I wonder if a teenage girl who is supporting a child through World Vision, writing letters to senators and things of that nature might be a little less concerned about her appearance. Maybe I am too naive.

    By Blogger Fajita, at 1/07/2005 01:58:00 PM  

  • I would like to thank everyone who has shared on this topic. Like Mike, I feel that I have been blessed by God as I have read the many excellent words of wisdom. Having worked the past seventeen years in full time youth ministry, I have observed so much as it relates to this issue. And as a father of four boys now I continue to seek God's wisdom in knowing how to help them navigate the perils of this world. I am certain, though, of this one thing: I and other significant people in my children's lives must continue to sound the message clearly through words and actions that "God made you; Jesus died for you; and They love you just as you are; and so do I." And hopefully, by the grace of God, perhaps on the seven hundred eighty fourth time....they will understand what that really means.

    In Christian love,

    Jeff
    Chattanooga, TN

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/07/2005 01:58:00 PM  

  • I have a 6 year old daughter, Sierra. She's terrific. Cute as can be. Looks like my wife in a smaller version.

    She's learned recently about kissing boys, and that it is not the same as kisses good night and hugs-n-kisses from mom and dad. She thinks about it constantly, and occasionally let's mom and dad in on it. We talk about what she thinks about it and she gets really embarrassed. We don't push, but we do ask general questions (casually), probe a very little and then we say we'll talk more later. She's pretty good about actually bringing it up later. Nothing has to be resolved in one conversation or in the next ten minutes (Thanks Al Ogren for that advice).

    She's been exposed to Bratz, the cartoon icons of teen girlness, I guess. They show their bellies with their too-short shirts and have an attitude about them. She is very interested in them. "They are like real women," she says.

    So, we have talked about sending messages without words. Through clothes and attitudes and things like that. I told her that some of their clothes send the wrong message. "What message?" she asks. "Well," I say, "She might be accidentally telling the boys that she wants them to kiss her." I was struggling and that's what came out.

    Now guess what the gospel truth is: Any girl showing he mid section in any way (even girls in her Sunday school class) are trying to get the boys to kiss them. There are some significant flaws in my appraoch so far, but unlearning the gospel truth is a tough row to hoe. The saga continues.

    ON ANOTHER NOTE: Mary Pipher, in her book REVIVING OPHELIA, says that teenage girls are prone to causes. They will throw themselves into a cause of care or concern. Perhaps tapping into that energy and giving it some support and guidance can help a teenage girl to focus on service rather than focus on self. I wonder if a teenage girl who is supporting a child through World Vision, writing letters to senators and things of that nature might be a little less concerned about her appearance. Maybe I am too naive.

    By Blogger Fajita, at 1/07/2005 01:58:00 PM  

  • I have a 6 year old daughter, Sierra. She's terrific. Cute as can be. Looks like my wife in a smaller version.

    She's learned recently about kissing boys, and that it is not the same as kisses good night and hugs-n-kisses from mom and dad. She thinks about it constantly, and occasionally let's mom and dad in on it. We talk about what she thinks about it and she gets really embarrassed. We don't push, but we do ask general questions (casually), probe a very little and then we say we'll talk more later. She's pretty good about actually bringing it up later. Nothing has to be resolved in one conversation or in the next ten minutes (Thanks Al Ogren for that advice).

    She's been exposed to Bratz, the cartoon icons of teen girlness, I guess. They show their bellies with their too-short shirts and have an attitude about them. She is very interested in them. "They are like real women," she says.

    So, we have talked about sending messages without words. Through clothes and attitudes and things like that. I told her that some of their clothes send the wrong message. "What message?" she asks. "Well," I say, "She might be accidentally telling the boys that she wants them to kiss her." I was struggling and that's what came out.

    Now guess what the gospel truth is: Any girl showing he mid section in any way (even girls in her Sunday school class) are trying to get the boys to kiss them. There are some significant flaws in my appraoch so far, but unlearning the gospel truth is a tough row to hoe. The saga continues.

    ON ANOTHER NOTE: Mary Pipher, in her book REVIVING OPHELIA, says that teenage girls are prone to causes. They will throw themselves into a cause of care or concern. Perhaps tapping into that energy and giving it some support and guidance can help a teenage girl to focus on service rather than focus on self. I wonder if a teenage girl who is supporting a child through World Vision, writing letters to senators and things of that nature might be a little less concerned about her appearance. Maybe I am too naive.

    By Blogger Fajita, at 1/07/2005 01:58:00 PM  

  • sorry about multiple repeating posts.

    By Blogger Fajita, at 1/07/2005 02:10:00 PM  

  • I have read over and over the comments, and SO MUCH WISDOM is included here!! I want to say two things:

    1) The actions we take in this regard in safeguarding our girls AND boys must be intentional. I mentioned earlier about kids "catching" the values of their parents, and this is true, but it is a lot easier to catch them if they are thrown than just dropped here and there. We have done this with our boys, taking them to a dinner alone and discussing the upcoming changes in their physiology as well as our expectations regarding their interactions with girls, complete with presenting them with a ring to remind them of the pact we make. This piece of jewelry has turned out to be very valuable to them, more so than I would have expected.

    2) Keith Brenton, you make my brain hurt.

    don

    By Blogger don, at 1/07/2005 02:14:00 PM  

  • This has been a great discussion. I think we could talk about this for weeks and with this group we might actually get somewhere. I know that all the practical and specific suggestions are good and that we need to do all those things with our kids but I think that it is deeper than that. It is really about who we are raising our kids to be...or I should say that they don't really belong to us anyway and God has entrusted us to bring them to him. I want my kids from their very cores to know who God is and from that knowing for transformation to take place. That is something that I don't have any control over but I can guide and talk and walk and pray as much as possible to make that happen. When that is right then...they will treat their own bodies and others bodies in the way that Jesus would treat them. I know that sounds too simple...
    But I have seen those families who talk about dating from the time their children are really young and then that becomes the focus. Their children then become interested in the opposite sex very early and many times with terrible results. I think that involvement is key but involvement in many other interesting things and friends who are not their boyfriend or girlfriend. Good, solid friends for conversation, comfort, fun and searching...when they are dating one person, that person consumes their time and make it difficult to form other important relationships.
    I think this all connects with how girls feel about how they look. They need to be involved in activities that require them to think and work hard, and enjoy and discover the gifts that God has given them. When this kind of activity is happening...the rest seems less important.
    I know that I get on my soapbox on this issue and could keep typing for hours...sorry, I get carried away.
    grace, Julie
    I, also, highly recommend Reviving Ophelia. Great book. You should read it if you are any way involved with young girls.

    By Blogger julie, at 1/07/2005 02:55:00 PM  

  • When cell phones first came out, older children suffered because the mentality was that children of any age didn't need a private phone. They weren't mature enough. Fast forward 7 years. Jr. high kids carry phones by the boatloads. Breast implants , botox, piercings, etc. as graduation gifts make just as much sense. We all are on our own path to reach God as He draws us to him. Perhaps, but maybe not, young girls can feel better in their own skins with parental/grandparental nudging. They have a path to God that they themselves must pursue. Perhaps the best parenting is in ensuring that we parents ourselves continue drawing near to God. God will do the rest.

    By Blogger WDS, at 1/07/2005 09:33:00 PM  

  • So much wisdom here. As the Mom of a soon to be 7 year old girl, this whole subject terrrifies me! Truly! So glad God the Father didn't leave us to parent all on our own. I'll have to earmark this post for future reference. Thanks blog family!

    By Blogger SG, at 1/07/2005 09:57:00 PM  

  • Signin' in for roll call:
    here's how this discussion convicts me:

    "My crown is in my heart not on my head;...
    my crown call'd content;
    a crown it is that seldom kings enjoy."
    (Wm. Shakespeare, King Henry VI)

    "I have learned the secret of being content
    in any and every situation...because God has said,
    Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you."
    (Paul, Phil 4:12, Anonymous, Heb.13:5)

    By Blogger lee, at 1/08/2005 09:26:00 AM  

  • When I signed on AOL this morning, the screen blared at me: "TOP NEWS: Brad and Jen split."

    A tsunami has wreaked havoc, there is a war in Iraq, a genocide in Western Sudan continues . . . and the top news is that Brad and Jen split.

    This is the culture in which we try to convince our children of deeper, inner values!

    By Blogger Mike, at 1/08/2005 09:57:00 AM  

  • While it is true that this "Implant" issue is a byproduct of what society tells us is right, I also cringe at why these girls want so desperately to adopt that look. I am afraid it points to the manner in which girls are sexually active at younger and younger ages and this is part of the bait. Yes, I know. Boys are scum and wolves, but this aggressive sexual activity among younger and younger girls is a fairly recent development.

    But as we sit here sans robers, but ruling from the bench nonetheless, how many of us are chasing image-based things as well? How much how many $70 shirts with a little horse could feed a family in a developing country? Would the money for extra gas necessary to fuel our SUV have had a greater impact used differently? What about that vacation, TV, movie, restaurant meal, round of golf, manicure? Anything beyond food and shelter is a luxury to someone, but we do chase many of these things because of self interest or because we have bought into marketing hype. But to avaoid the sting that comes when things hit close to home, we either ignore them or justify them. I am afraid most people in the Western world have been implanted in one way or another.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/08/2005 03:03:00 PM  

  • I have to appreciate Tine's post. She reminds me that despite our best efforts, our children can make choices that are hard for us to watch. They leave us grasping for the right thing to do. Who as a parent ever expects our children to turn their backs on things we try to instill into them. Her parents stood by her through some very difficult times. We might think we can protect our children from everything that could harm them. My daughter did things that I never thought she would do. It went against everything we stood for and tried to teach her. It was the most difficult time of my life. I knew that no matter what she did, I had to let her know I still loved her but also had to let her know that what she was doing wasn't right. Things that no father wants to see happen to a daughter happened to her. There is hope though. She has been very open about all that has happened over the past few years. She is able to talk about the things she has done and is anxious to make a new start. It's so easy to play the "what if" game when things go wrong with our kids. There aren't always easy answers and no fast answers. The best we can do is continue to love them while continuing to live our faith. We don't always make the best decisions as parents... no matter how many books we read or classes we take. Kids seem to find ways to confound the experts. I hope all of your children bring you nothing but joy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/08/2005 06:00:00 PM  

  • My wife and I struggle here too. We have decided to homeschool as well, in part to help build a stronger foundation for them to resist such pressures from society. I gotta admit - it's hard to even buy modest clothes for young girls. I mean YOUNG girls! Our older daughter is almost 10 and our younger one is 5. Even Target and Wal-Mart have miniature slut clothes, and little else! (sorry, but that's what they are!)

    One of my daughters in particular has physical touch as a primary "love language" so it is up to me to make sure that she gets all the appropriate male attention that she needs. She also has a very tender heart, so I expect a LOT of tears as we go through the pre-teen and teen years.

    We pray about this often, to be discerning and wise. It is hard to be in the world and not of the world. Sometimes I wish Paul had not written that! (kidding, mostly)

    Thanks for bringing this up. I really admire you, Mike Cope!

    By Blogger MichaelPolutta, at 1/08/2005 07:44:00 PM  

  • In response to this topic, tonight I asked my 6 year old daughter to look into the mirror and tell me what she sees. She said she sees a girl who wears pink, with blonde hair, someone who is special, someone who is brave and a nice person.

    "Wow, you are so right," I said, "you know what else I see?" She couldn't wait to hear and I couldn't wait to say it. She was almost in tears. Me too. She looked at me. "Keep looking into the mirror," I said. "I see a beautiful girl, full of art, and full of peace. I see a strong girl who is precious..." I took about a solid minute with this one. Then we snuggled up for a bedtime prayer. After the prayer, we talked for about ten minutes. I think this talking was not just because she didn't want to go to bed, but because she really wanted to talk.

    Thanks to this post and comments for inspiring me to "have a moment" with my daughter.


    I finally saw Spanglish. I am sure I'll get chance to speak more since Mike keeps bringing it up. GO AND SEE IT IF YOU HAVEN'T. It hits on so many relational themes. IF Adam Sandler is keeping you from it, see it anyway, you will not be disappointed.

    By Blogger Fajita, at 1/08/2005 08:37:00 PM  

  • My daughter is only 2 years old and still fear grips my heart when I think of what may lie ahead for her. I was on the opposite side of this topic...I needed (and wanted)a breast reduction. I can not remember a time that I have not gotten attention because of overly large breasts. Even my girlfriends have teased me about it. The sad thing is it's genetics. It's pretty common in my family. I never had trouble getting a boyfriend growing up and I constantly struggled with self-image issues.

    I think there is alot to be said for the parental involvement everyone is talking about here. My dad was absent for my entire childhood and I naturally sought out male attention wherever I could find it, and it wasnt hard to find. Unlike the parents on this blog, no one was willing to talk to me about my body or my body image. I now work with teen girls and I can testify that they are obsessed with both. From a very early age they are pushed into a world of tight clothes and dolls wih breasts(someone mentioned the Bratz dolls). Let's think about the transformation Barbie's body has made since the 60's. The message has been made clear. The young girls in your church want to fit in just as much as the scantily-clad girls they walk the halls with at school. They are not immune because they are growing up in a christian home.

    One of our elders at a church we worked with was pretty upset about the cleavage-revealing outfit a particular girl wore to worship one Sunday. He felt that as the youth minister's wife it was MY job to address this issue directly with her and the rest of the teens. This could easily turn into a different topic for me...when did this sort of thing become the responsibility of the youth ministry staff insead of the parents?

    I echo the words of wisdom already posted. Love your children and teach them when they're young how much they matter to God and that He made them just as they are. Teach your boys how to treat girls and your girls how to be treated. An idea we have adopted is the parent/child date. My husband has Popa/Zoe dates and plans to use them to teach her how she deserves to be treated. My 5 year old son and I have dates too where he opens doors for me and treats me like a lady. They are never too young to start learning.

    To all of the Dad's out there: HUG YOUR DAUGHTERS even if it gets uncomfortable for you. They need to know that God isn't the only one that loves them just the way they are.

    By Blogger Niki, at 1/08/2005 10:04:00 PM  

  • I posted a comment very close to the beginning, but I've been reading all of these as they have been posted. I'm nineteen years old, haven't ever been in a long relationship at all (still young), but have dated quite a few girls. I've never done anything I'm ashamed of with a girl, my momma raised me well. Yet tonight this blog brought me to tears. I'm not just taking out young women, I'm taking out someone's precious angel that they have held so tight and loved so dearly. I want to thank all the parents especially who commented, and I've been telling all my buddy's that they need to read this as well. Thank-you!

    By Blogger Brandon Moore, at 1/10/2005 12:12:00 AM  

  • Spend time. Be tough. Speak truth. Lots of touch. Give trust. PRAY a ton!

    By Blogger Joel Quile, at 1/10/2005 06:04:00 AM  

  • Brandon, once again I am commenting on a comment of yours. You might be just 19 but you are a wise 19. What you said is truly the very core of Christianity. Yes, those girls have parents who have raised them and loved and always want them to be treated with respect...but their is an even greater picture to look at...every person we come in contact with...every store clerk, every person driving beside us, every patient I take of in the hospital, every student sitting beside you in class...they are all treasured by our Father and he is rallying for them as we encounter them. He is pleading for them to be treated justly and kindly and if we are believers, he is pleading for us to show them Jesus in some way. If we treat every encounter this way...life is so much better. I am not saying I have this mastered...no way. Just saying that knowing this changes how we think about others and how we are trying to treat them.
    Thanks for your thoughts Brandon.
    grace, Julie

    By Blogger julie, at 1/10/2005 07:57:00 AM  

  • Brandon: Praise God for your momma!

    I am praying that God will raise up lots of young men like you and make them available when my 2-year-old daughter is ready to date (30 years from now or so...). You give me hope, brother!

    By Blogger Jo, at 1/10/2005 11:44:00 AM  

  • Joel, may I add a 7th phrase to your six?

    As a very wise woman I met recently says: "...and develop a strong "NO" muscle."

    By Blogger Kathy, at 1/10/2005 11:51:00 AM  

  • The theaters of old have been replaced with a new presentation of tragedy, comedy and fairy tale....and they call it "reality".

    Lord, give us discernment, now, more than ever.

    By Blogger Larry, at 1/10/2005 03:12:00 PM  

  • Kathy,

    See #2. Tough is all about the "NO Muscle"

    Thanks for the input. I appreciate you.

    By Blogger Joel Quile, at 1/10/2005 05:45:00 PM  

  • I have to first say Bless You All for this fabulous post. I am surrounded by some precious little girls that mean very much to mean. My heart aches when they go through "girl" struggles. I am also the mother of two fantastic boys who I am trying very hard to nurture into fantastic men of God. I pray every day that God show me how to raise them. They are His after all.
    Peace,
    K

    By Blogger K, at 1/11/2005 06:54:00 AM  

  • Today I plan to read some of these incredible comments to my freshmen Bible majors. It's time for us to talk (in our assemblies, our classes, our small groups) about real stuff like this -- isn't it? Thanks so much for your participation!

    By Blogger Mike, at 1/11/2005 09:09:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    Right now with our teens we are working through True Love Waits, and we have sepnt much time on the issues talk about about to really round it out. The saddest thing I heard was from a parent who said, "Well, my girls won't be in class anymore until this study is over, they are just too embarassed by some of the subject matter." I was so hurt, I was so dissapointed. It made me think of one thing, I am glad Mary wasn't too embarassed to allow her son to go to the cross for my sins. Yes, this is definitely something we need to deal with in our assemblies, small groups, classes and on and on. I appreciate every persons thoughts on this issue, because issues lke this are the ones tearing our teens from the inside out. Blessings.

    By Blogger CL, at 1/11/2005 05:04:00 PM  

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