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September 29, 2005

Thoughts on the roles of adults and children

Charmaine at Reasoned Audacity caught a lot of grief for her post commenting on “the raunch culture.” In the comments, the always reasonable Attila Girl makes this valid point:

I *do* think there is utility in making some sites "adult." I watch the Sopranos. I read Jeff Goldstein's blog. I don't think the word "adult" should simply be a synonym for "pornographic." And I'm against making the entire web "child-safe."
Certainly, I, like most of the conservatives and liberals I know, do not want to ban adult activities. The idea of everything geared towards kids is abhorrent because it makes children the drivers of the culture rather then students of it and eventual contributors to it.

Reviewing the other comments on Charmaine’s thread, I believe the friction between the “literalist” liberals who do not/will not acknowledge a “raunch” culture and “alarmist” conservatives who demand legislative solutions, is actually a result of the blurring between adult/child realms. And some of the blame can be laid directly on the doorstep of my Baby-Boomer generation.

During the late 60’s and into the 70’s one of the most damning things that one could be labeled with was being accused of being a hypocrite. No matter your argument, your behavior, your good works, the charge “hypocrite” would be like being slapped across the face with a mackerel – it hurt and it left a lingering stink. It didn’t matter that you couldn’t figure out just exactly which things made you a “hypocrite,” perception was all that mattered. In the rush to reject our parents’ generation grew the idea that people “couldn’t be real” as hypocrisy. If one did one thing due to duty or promise while wishing to do another – hypocrite! The Baby Boomers were all about “doing my own thing” and “being true to myself” and “if you can’t be with the one you love…” Why wear a tie or dress in Sunday clothes for church? Hypocrite! Why stay monogamous when you really wanted to just “love your neighbor?” Hypocrite! Behave differently due to circumstance? HYPOCRITE!

To illustrate – my grandmother, born 1904, dressed for church and shopping downtown. Hat, gloves, stockings, pumps – that was the way a lady behaved in general public. At the same time, my grandparents loved to nightclub. They dressed to the nines and engaged in dancing, drinking and listening to music in clubs that would be totally unsuitable for children. Not to mention that during the early 20’s before my grandparents married my grandmother was a flapper; with bobbed platinum-blonde hair, short dress and long beads. For people of my generation, such a thing would be deemed HYPOCRITICAL.

Of course it wasn’t. Anymore than a person today that believes that there is a difference between children and adults and adults are charged with the responsibility to behave differently around children then when they are among themselves.

The major problem with contemporary pop-raunch culture is that the idea of excluding children from adult activities can easily get one slapped with the mackerel.

I’m always wondering what the hell a parent is thinking when I see them taking their pre-pubescent kidlets to an “R” rated movie. Is four-year-old Tina really going to understand that the spurting blood is “just pretend?” What lesson is six-year-old Jason learning when watching a graphic rape scene?

It’s not just the movies. It is adults, PARENTS, who dress their little girls like Paris Hilton hookers or buy them Bratz. It is adults who make their youngsters mini-adults when they provide alcohol or bedrooms at their kids’ parties.

Whether such impulses come from guilt or a desire to be “cool” with their kids’ friends, we do our children no favors by not allowing them to BE children and preserving their innocence. And we do OURSELVES no favors by not allowing ourselves to play different roles out of mackerel-phobia.

Years ago Las Vegas was almost exclusively an adult resort. I can remember my grandparents staying the weekend to baby-sit my sister and me while my parents and their friends would set off across the desert for an adults only get away. Arriving in a town that catered to adults – the complimentary drink sent up to one’s room upon check in, gambling all night, late night shows featuring comedians who did a much different and more adult routine then they did for tv audiences, shows with tall women wearing not much more than beads and feathers, breakfasts and lounging around a pool with nary a youngster in sight.

Behaving differently due to circumstance is NOT hypocrisy. And wanting to clearly define adult and child roles is NOT hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy is not the worst charge anyone can level because much of the time, it indicates the willingness on the part of the accused to try and establish standards. The person that can never be accused of hypocrisy is the one that has no standards or values.

In the public realm where children and adults mix, we should remain mindful of not exposing them to age-inappropriate material. As adults, our own realms can be a libertarian, or even libertine, as we like, as long as we keep it amongst us adults.

Posted by Darleen at September 29, 2005 12:36 PM


While your thoughts are valid, and, as a parent, I certainly do not allow my kids to have access to inappropriate films, etc., I also let them know that "there's a lot of bad and beware."
When you were at Rinaldi Street Elementary School, did you know that Tom, the nice man who sold ice cream outside the school, also was selling drugs to students? In my insulated, protected world, I had no clue that there even was a possibility that an adult, especially one who I saw every day, would do such a thing. I do not think I even found out about it until we were in high school. When we were at Rinaldi, there was a girl a few years younger than us who lived on my street. I thought it odd that her mother always was in the house wearing a robe and dark glasses. But, in my protective bubble, I did not know that there was such a thing as an alcoholic, nor did I suspect there was anything wrong until she literally drank herself to death.
Protect and educate, but don't hide.

Posted by: RaoulDuck at September 30, 2005 07:35 AM

Rinaldi Street School. Wow. That takes me back. Were we the same year? You've got me quite curious!

I didn't really know Tom because I wasn't allowed to buy ice cream after school. But I remember seeing the truck, and because I moved during the 8th grade, leaving Patrick Henry JHS for Imperial JHS in Orange County, this is the first I've heard.

I think, yes, if it was found out while you were small about Tom, then you should have been educated on that by your parents. But why would you have to be educated about alcoholism if it didn't affect you or your family?

I remember years ago hearing the advice to the question "How do I answer my child when they ask 'where do babies come from?'" The advice was to listen to the child's question and answer exactly and honestly what they are asking. IE "a baby grows in a special place inside the mommy called the uterus." There. Honest answer, age appropriate to the child asking. One need NOT get into a long biological sexual reproduction lecture when the child's curiousity has been satisfied.

I've always used that as a general rule of thumb with my own kids on all sorts of topics.

Posted by: Darleen at September 30, 2005 01:06 PM

I now have 12 and 14 year old sons. My wife and I have taught them the ills of drugs and alcohol, and the consequences of each. But, as a parent, you have to assume that they will be exposed to abuse, or potential abuse, by others. They need to know the facts.
Let me give you another example. When our children were younger and were invited to another house, my wife and I routinely asked whether the parents had any guns in the house. If the answer was yes, our children were not allowed over. We also made sure our kids knew not to play with guns and to tell us immediately if they were at a house where there was a gun. Why? They needed to have that education. I cannot tell you how many times that my friends and I, growing up in Granada Hills, had access to either a pellet gun or a "real" gun taken without a parent's knowledge and used for target shooting in the hills up Zelzah, Reseda or Tampa. So, our boys may not have been allowed to watch violence on TV, but they sure knew that guns are dangerous and can kill, even accidentally. I was exposed to TV and movie violence without restriction. But I did not make the connection between guns and violence in a realistic way until you and I were at Patrick Henry and one of our school mates (John Hand) was shot to death in a hold up at his father's store on San Fernando Mission Blvd and Balboa.
My friend was affected by her mother's alcoholism. While I may not have been affected directly, I certainly was affected in the sense that the daughter was a friend and, also, I was at her house and exposed to her mother. Who knew what could happen with the only "responsible" adult in the house an alcoholic?
Were we the same year? Sat next to each other in Charlotte Patterson's 3rd grade class as I recall. Let's see. Mrs. Song. Mrs. Medina. Mrs. Patterson. Mrs. Acebo. Mrs. Story. Mrs. Frank. If you really are curious, e-mail me.

Posted by: RaoulDuck at September 30, 2005 01:32 PM