Life Notes: Reality vs. The Romance Machine
by Cindy Wyatt

When you teach your children the “facts of life”, you may think you need The Kinsey Report and Intro to Biology to pull it off. And you might. But that’s not the “facts” I’m referring to anyway!

I am talking about helping your children face the real world when they are exposed to so much that is unreal. Yes, even in a world of reality television, we are all exposed to massive rays from the Romance Machine of our culture.

Do you realize how many love songs profess in various poetic ways: “I can’t live without you.” “I am nothing without you.” “You are my everything.”? And how many romance novels have a theme in which the woman falls in love with the man who violently “takes” her. The lovers will then give up anything to be together–so great is their love and need for only each other. And then there are the movies which show what happens if things should go wrong with this perfect love: jilted spouses who go to extreme measures to take their revenge. The message so often is-“if I love you and you love me, then we can’t be separate and we are everything to each other”. And further, “if you should ever try to break that equation, I cannot live with that and I don’t want you to live with that.”

I know we are not meant to take these parts of our pop culture to heart. Hopefully, most of us have these messages balanced by healthy modeling from our families, church, and the rest of our culture. Still, keep checking out what your kids are being exposed to. Have you watched MTV lately? Women are hanging all over their men-objectified and sexualized to the extreme. Men are often violent and street tough-too cool to show emotions one minute and blowing up in anger the next. And it’s not just modern influences which feed this distorted Romance imagery and gender stereotypes. Have you read fairy tales to your impressionable young child lately?

Boys and girls alike think they are going to find their Prince or Princess Charming someday and live happily ever after. The Princess merchandise in the toy stores is even more massive than when the Disney classic versions first came out in the 40’s and 50’s. Think about adding a reality check in there for your innocents such as, “You know, Mom doesn’t exactly look like Snow White in the morning and Dad sure isn’t charming after 10:00 p.m.”

For your teens, you might comment when you hear a song with lyrics like “every breath you take, I’ll be watching you” that it’s more than just a little creepy rather than a compliment! Let them know that another person does not complete them. An intimate partner is just that – a separate individual with whom you partner/share some important parts of your life. But not everything. You don’t own the person you fall in love with. They had a life before you and hopefully will lead a life after you as they share a life with you. Remember the words to that old song You Don’t Own Me by Leslie Gore. What a great anthem that would be for our youth of today. I think I’ll suggest it to Brittany.

The Life Notes articles are written by staff of Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home and are published in The Ruston Daily Leader.

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