Saving Our Sons and Daughters: “New Realities” On TV & Beyond by Melody Fox
Today we live in a “Reality TV” era where “new realities” are perpetuated over substantive ones. This “new reality” has a signature of drama; popularity is predicated on who can dis who the best. While some reality shows do show family values, most are showing behaviors that no doubt contribute to the breakdown of the family.
I believe you are what you entertain, and on a steady diet of debauchery, we become infected without even knowing it sometimes. Maybe we are critiquing how horrible a show is with its display of violence and crudeness, and as we engage, the “new reality” becomes normalized. Some may say, it’s just entertainment, but what happened to art as a medium to inspire? Now, I’m not coming from a vantage point of a self-righteous purist, but rather as a concerned parent, who had her teen daughter say, “Bad Girl’s Club is addictive Mommy.” This was after she was forbade watching the show by her father and I because of the language and violence.
In a household that is committed to communication, I appreciated my daughter sharing her sentiments even though she disobeyed her parents (albeit from two different households); there is a serious issue going on and I know she isn’t the only that has felt/feels that way. Rather than being uplifted and inspired, young minds are being drawn to and becoming addicted to “wow, they are so crazy.” My daughter has been raised to show respect and to respect herself, yet this contrast of wild behavior was entertaining.
This is not about singular blame or one or two shows or even a short answer of discipline. “Oh, that child needs a good beating” is not the answer to this dilemma. There is a culture of desensitization that is permeating TV screens and airwaves. “These Chicks Ain’t Loyal” was the popular lyric this past year and “Ain’t No Woman Like the One I Got” seems to be a forgotten mantra. And my confession: I have bobbed to these popular songs with degrading and condescending lyrics on more than one occasion too; the beat was…what’s the word…addictive.
There will be those that gasp at that confession, but as the creator and host of Real Conversations, I am committed to transparency and solutions. So, in this Internet age, will these songs continue to be made and played? No doubt! Will roundtable production meetings be held (based on trends and tweets) about the next wild reality show? Absolutely! They want to give the people “what they want.” Now, how do we make values that promote communication and strong relationships sexy? That is the question and opportunity.
I am committed that we take responsibility for creating mediums, products, and platforms that engage our future generations. We must take time with our families and strengthen our bonds if we are to save our sons and daughters. We can just shun or we can create. Critique without action is a missed opportunity. So, as much as I’m saddened about the negativity being fed to our children, I’m motivated by the prospect of being creative in how we make consciousness addictive for our children.
We have work to do. This “new reality” is not one that is gonna move us forward; we need a revolution and it won’t be by throwing stones. We better take those stones and start building because we’re losing our children. We must endow them with true riches so that the fool’s gold is not as appealing.
5 Action Tips:
Parents must educate, not just condemn i.e. watch educational vids, have treats, and allow children to frame the juxtaposition to the contrasting elements in popular culture.
Parents need to be aware of what some of the societal influences are in the “Internet Age.” It’s important to know what’s going on so you can address some of the stereotypical/challenging popular culture portrayals, yet also shape critical and progressive thought.
Parents must engage children creatively as fervently as we stress our disapproval. The imbalance caused by our weighted disapproval, while framed as “tough love,” may prove to not be “enough love” if we don’t offer alternatives.
Families must dialogue. Where there is no authentic communication, there is no relatedness. Be open to listen and hear some of what you may not agree with. When you choose being “right” and overstep being related, there is only righteous indignation, which may not prove effective for healthy family relations. You can be in control, yet foster powerful communication.
Social media timeout must not just be used as punishment; there needs to be a context for family time that includes live fun-filled interaction with one another. A set time would be optimal.
Together we can create a “reality” that works for Strengthening Our Families as We Save Our Sons and Daughters.
Note: I read this article to my teen daughter mid-way through because I referenced something she said to me and I wanted her to be okay with it. At first, she was like “OMG” and to translate, that means, “Mommy, you’re doing too much” (as to incite embarrassment). After completing the piece, I spent quality time with my daughter and read the entire piece; she said, “That’s Great!”
Talk to the Children!
Committed to Our Growth,