I recently learned that Linda Ronstadt has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Among the songs I liked a lot that she sang was one called "When Will I Be Loved". It was from an ABC after school special.
It got me thinking about those after school movie specials and how we really do not have anything like them anymore. There is a point in adolescences or slightly before where some subjects become necessary to discuss with someone who actually can provide you with guidance and factual information yet they still need to be seen as a "cool" source. Your friends may have it but most likely they have it wrong. Those movies were great because they dealt with subjects that were top of mind but rarely made it to a parental discussion for many of us.
The topic the song Linda sang about was rarely discussed back then. It dealt with a girl, who was known to be free with giving up her body, that is taken by her boyfriend after they drink (don't remember them doing much else) to his or his friends' van and then even though she protests she is gang raped by them with him around while treating her as though she was willing. The girl was played by Maureen McCormick of Marsha Brady fame. Her life falls apart quickly after this and I remember being really touched by the movie. How choices about what we do and with whom we do them have consequences.
There is another with Scott Baio, who I so loved at the time, about a boy who drinks too much. It also was not preachy and I could remember thinking that it had a good point and that there were already people I knew who were going down the path he was.
In a world where we seem to be ok flashing and showing everything somehow we no longer have programming that deals with these topics in a way that kids can relate to. I am pretty open with my sons and will continue to keep a dialogue open especially about drugs, cigarettes, sex and choices. However, sometimes a good movie maybe opens up a thought for them differently than just a parent can. We have started hiding our discussions with eliminations of sex education courses as if that is going to somehow take us back to a time when they were not having sex... not sure if that ever existed but hey someone out there seems to think there was.
These are all serious matters and though we giggled and laughed at these movies they stayed with us. Maybe they did not shape our ultimate choices but they were in our consciousness. They dealt with anorexia, bullying and a host of other issues that have not changed from then to now. Talking to kids in ways that makes them listen whether it be via music, movies, books about how to treat their bodies with respect (and that applies for sex, drugs, alcohol and a host of other things) and that the consequences for not doing that could carry in so many negative ways is something we owe our children.
I say rather than shock value Miley I would rather have "Hannah Montana" deal with talking to a counselor about birth control options, including abstinence. Instead of the Kardashians let's see a short movie on a cyber-bullying with an actor kids relate to. There is so much for our children out there that often drags them into behaviors that are way advanced for their mental and physical ages ... yet we chose to no longer have some balance by showing anything that does anything other glamorize the behaviors.
Ostrich head in sand parenting and societies do not stop these things from becoming problems they just tell kids how to hide and hide until there is a storm.