Protecting children's childhood is quite a challenge nowadays. Even the school run in the car with the radio playing can prove tricky as suggestive song lyrics are blasted onto the airways.
It's quite a balancing act - you don't want to bring them up to be the odd one out in the playground but on the other hand you don't want them introduced to things that you think are too old for them. Nor do you want their childhood commercialised.
Even if you try to protect them, friends may have the latest Hannah Montana make up set or their usual lunchbox yoghurts may feature the latest Disney tween characters. So, what's a parent to do?There are things that some parents do to prevent the commercialisation of their children's childhood and to resist the pressure from the ad and marketing men. Here's some of them:
- Listen to your gut instinct: Not happy about something your child wants to watch or wear or listen to? Act on it. Not keen on hip hop lyrics? Turn the songs off when they come on the radio and don't allow them to buy the CDs.
- Compromise: Some parents allow their children to watch Disney films, for instance, but refuse to buy character clothes, bedding or food.
- Decide before birthdays and Christmases, for instance, what you will and won't allow in the house: A Barbie doctor doll may be fine but Bratz dolls could be a step too far.
- Realise you can't control all the culture: Marketing men are clever and characters and pop stars can turn up everywhere and on everything. While you can't do anything about that, or what they will be exposed to at friends' houses, you can control it in your house.
Striking a balance between what you believe is right and not making your child feel an outsider can be hard. Quite often parents are accused of being over-protective by others who don't see there is any problem.
But it's interesting to note that children can sometimes work out what's good and not so good for themselves as a recent AOL survey showed when girls and boys aged between nine and 15 voted Miley Cyrus the worst celebrity influence of 2009.
Do you worry about your children growing up too fast? If you do, have you got any ways to try and prevent this?