14/08/2014 16:46 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Figuring Out Fatherhood: Is My Son Losing His Innocence Too Quickly?

Figuring Out Fatherhood: Children aren't children for long

"Ooh, sexy lady," yells Isaac, his five-year-old face grinning from ear to ear. "Op-an Gangnam Style!"

My heart sinks and my shoulders slump: not because this is once more another unwelcome intrusion of Gangnam Style into my life (although I have mastered the dance), but because my young son is singing loudly about sexy ladies within earshot of my grandparents.

It's not strictly his fault: to my knowledge he's never actually seen the Gangnam Style video, which sets him apart from over a billion people around the globe so far. Instead, he's picked up the lyrics from classmates and friends, who sing the same line over and over again.

What makes my heart really sink, though, is the fact that my wife and I are witnessing the beginning of the end of Isaac's innocence. At just five years old we had hoped that he would be sweet and innocent for another year or two at least, but it seems that this is not so.


There is something about seeing your son yelling the words 'sexy lady' at the top of his voice which makes you cringe and wince inside, despite the fact that he has no idea what 'sexy ladies' are. I hope.


I often worry about how I am going to protect Isaac in the future from what I consider to be unsuitable material. I don't want him singing about 'sexy ladies'. I don't want him to start using bad language because he's heard someone in his class say a rude word. I don't want him to start watching television programmes which feed him a continuous stream of foul language and vulgar attitudes.

The sad fact is, however, that this will be a struggle. Back when I was young, my parents had just one television and one computer; both of which were in the lounge. Mobile phones were in their infancy and could barely text, let alone surf the Internet. All of these factors meant that my parents could police and control what I watched on TV, and what I looked at online.

But nowadays every child seems to have their own TV in their room, or their own smartphone, and as a result they have access to whatever they please at the touch of a button without their parents even knowing.

I know some children who can barely write, yet have their own laptop or iPad; and, despite my wife and I being resolute that there is no way Isaac will ever have his own TV in his room or a computer he can smuggle elsewhere – at least not until he's a teenager – we know full well that the pressure placed on him to keep up with his peers will be passed on to us.

We don't want him to feel restricted, or think that we are unwilling to give him any freedom: but in the same vein we want to be able to control, for as long as possible, what is going into his brain. Parental restrictions are available, but they only go so far.

Perhaps I'm overreacting, perhaps I'm being a prude, but I don't think so. I suppose what this boils down to is that children aren't children for long any more. Advances in technology, an increase in peer pressure and a shift in what is regarded as 'cool' to include swearing and vulgarity means that kids are often no longer content with board games and cartoons.

Apart from keeping Isaac in a locked room with no means of communication (which I'm almost certain is illegal), we will find it harder and harder to know what he is being exposed to day by day; and there is only so much that we, as parents, can do. At the moment, apart from the odd shout of 'sexy lady', he is still our innocent little man; an innocence that, to my despair, is at risk of being eroded as the years pass by.

Do you feel like this?

Children Growing Up Too Fast