Monday, December 24, 2007

What’s love got to do with it?

In light of Jamie Lynn's pregnancy, Nickelodeon is considering airing a special next month for the kiddies on love and sex. (Bet you never thought you’d see all those words together in a sentence.)

Anyhoo, It’s a good effort on the network's part. Ellerbee has worked with Nick before on shows that tackle sensitive issues, including AIDS, the Columbine shooting, and President Clinton's impeachment scandal. Her Nick News specials are always well done and appropriate to their young audience. So as the Jamie Lynn story quickly spirals into a full-blown circus (complete with rings, a trapeze and those little miniature ponies) at least Nick and Ellerbee have an opportunity to present something solid on the topic.

Rather than focus strictly on Spears, Ellerbee said she's considering producing a broad discussion about how people know they're in love, when is the right time to have sex and what are the value systems of their parents and friends. —AP

Linda, my thoughts are with you because you’ve got your work cut out for you on this one. In our world, love has taken a back seat to drama, what’s sexy or hot, and (in the case of women) bitchy, cat-fighting over men who aren’t worth the crud on the bottom of my New-York-winter Timberlands. (On the other hand, Tila Tequila, New York, Flava Flav, and that Rock of Love dude did find their true loves, so I could be wrong.)

Kids see these trends as clearly as we do. They may not be able to rationalize it, but they certainly can pick up on the cues. For a child who doesn’t have the guidance of a parent or guardian to explain the difference between the “love” they see in the media, and real-life love that has consequences and emotions, a news special like the one Ellerbee is proposing could be vital to the decisions they make down the road.

If this special goes down, I know I’ll be tuning it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Jamie Lynn Spears -Young, Hot & Knocked Up

It may sound like tabloid news (because it essentially is) but Jamie Lynn Spears has a hit Nickelodeon show whose primary audience is 8 to 14 years old. If this story is true, it's going to be a media frenzy. And sadly, the media is going to play a HUGE part in how this turns out. They can spin it in one of two ways…

They can use Jamie’s situation to open serious dialogue about sex education in this country. The debate between abstinence-only and comprehensive sex-ed programs rages on. Currently, abstinence only programs, which censor information on condoms and contraception, are fully funded by the federal government.

Comprehensive programs that cover abstinence and provide medically accurate information on contraception and disease prevention have been proven to be more effective in not only delaying sexual activity in teens, but also in reducing HIV-risk behavior by promoting condom use. But these types of programs do not receive funding.

Bottom line….informed kids are smarter kids. Maybe now, the struggle to get funding for comprehensive programs will finally get some serious attention.

But then again maybe not… because you wanna know why the debate between abstinence-only and comprehensive sex-ed programs gets no attention? Because the media is too busy reporting on which bar Lindsey stumbled out of, what color Baby Shiloh-Apple-Violet-Suri’s latest dump was, and…of course…whether or not Britney was wearing drawers when she stopped at a gas station to steal gum.

So chances are, the media has gotten themselves a new golden goose. I can see the headlines now:
Young, Hot & Havin’ a Baby!
Pregnant Teen Star & Her True Love: "We've been in love, like, forever."
Top 10 Baby Shower Gifts for the Teen Who’s Got it All!
Jamie Lynn Shows Off Her Baby Bump!

Aside, from the heat that’s going to get tossed at Ma and Pa Spears for having one daughter who just got her kids taken away and another pregnant while still in high school, the fact is; thousand of young girls may begin to see Jamie Lynn as a role model and "if she can do it, so can I". When it’s all said and done, getting knocked-up at 16 may become as big as adopting third world babies.

Granted, this child is certainly not the only 16-year-old to ever get pregnant, but she is the only one with enough star power to give some serious attention to this issue.

Now let’s see where it takes us.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Back to basics...too little, too late

Modernization and technological advancements are supposed to be good for society, I guess. But I’m not so sure if that’s that case when it comes to the way kids live today.

Growing up in Upstate New York, I lived on the same block as four of my cousins. And there were plenty of other kids around. After school, as soon as our homework and chores were done, we’d be itching to get out of the house. A cartoon or two may have been on our agenda, but Mighty Mouse had nothing on a few rounds of freeze tag.

In the summer our entire days were spent outdoors; jumping rope, playing hopscotch, riding our bikes, roller skating, or playing kickball, baseball or dodgeball in the empty lot at the end of the block. If there was nothing happening on our block, the next block over had a playground and about 10 acres of sheer wilderness to explore. We'd head out in the early afternoons, our only instructions: be back when the streetlights came on. The world was ours.

Today, I'm afraid to let my kids leave the yard, much less roam the beat on their own. In a mere 30 years, our haven of play and innocent discovery has turned to a cauldron of perverse danger. Parents’ fear of an increasingly ominous world has caused us to lock our little ones away from it. Video games, televison, computers, and cell phones have replaced jump ropes and hula hoops.

Our children are perpetually entertained by an ever-upgrading array of gadgets that keep them in the house, on the couch, and as sedentary as possible. They talk to each other at the touch of a button; no need to meet in person. The flashing lights of electronic games have outshined the sparkle of summer sunlight through leaves. The hi-def bass of iPods and home theater systems have bulldozed the whisper of wind-rustled trees into a silent corner.

Of course these are my old-tweefo lamentations. You won’t hear too many kids complaining about their lack of dappled sunlight. And you’ll find even less willing to trade in their iPods for hula hoops. Every generation is different from the one before, after all. But I can’t help but feel so sad for what this latest generation is missing. Freedom. Long-lasting innocence. Carefree exploration. Pure and simple fun. And some of them may never realize it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Success at what cost?

So Junior Achievment and Deloitte have taken a poll of teens from ages 13 to 18 and found that 2 out of 5 kids feel pressured to succeed in school. That sounds like it could possibly be a good thing. Kids are striving to do thier best. They're getting a little stressed about it, though. Ok, so give 'em some relaxation CDs. Send them to yoga. Whatever. But stressed-out achievers is better than lazy slacker-bums (or "slackums" if you prefer), right?

But of course, it doesn't end there. Fifty percent of the girls said they feel a lot or overwhelming pressure, while only 38% of boys felt the same. I can see that. Women certainly have come a long way (baby), but that doesn't mean that today's girls don't feel the need to work twice as hard to prove themselves as good as the boys. The double standard is still alive and kicking and girls know it.

But wait...there's more. On top of feeling pressured and stressed out, a significant percentage of teens feel that it's quite alright to lie, cheat and use violence as a way to succeed.

Now THIS is interesting.

Who would think that America's "cribs"- tourin'/ ride-pimpin'/ Sweet 16 birthday extravaganza having/celebrity lifestyle coveting/ bling-shinin'/ designer clothes flashin'/ Fabulous-life-of watchin' / Top 10 richest this, that and the other listin'….teens feel like the world is theirs for taking and they'll take it by any means necessary…including cheating, lying, stealing, and beating down the sucka kid who gets in the way? Where are they getting these crazy ideas!?!?

Oh...wait a minute.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tweefo Warrior Screech…. Yiyiyiyyiyiyiyiyi!!!!!

I've been thinking a lot about passion lately. Not romantic passion (puh-lease). I'm talking about the kind of passion that inspires us to action.

You know the feeling. It kicks off when you get a great idea, when you experience something inspiring, or when you think about something you truly enjoy doing. For me, the feeling starts off as a thought or voice in my head. Then it moves down to my belly and tingles there a bit before welling up into my chest and exploding into sheer excitement. That type of fire doesn't come along every day. It's rare and precious.

Lately this is the feeling I've been getting when I think about the possibility of freelancing full time, working from home to be more available to my family, and putting some real focus into starting a new business with an associate of mine. These are things that I've thought about for years; just knocking the ideas around in my head. But now, there's real passion behind those thoughts. And with passion comes action...

It's time to make power moves!

You know what's funny? I always try to inspire passion in my daughter by helping her explore new things. Cooking, playing sports, taking art classes...anything to get her thinking about the things she loves and how she could parlay them into bigger things.

But seriously, how long did it take me to discover my passion? It certainly didn't happen when I was 12 or 13. We always say "youth is wasted on the young" and it might be true. I'm just finding my way now...a tweefo with so much focus and passion in my 30s that sometimes it scares me. Had I had this type of fire in my teens and 20s...With all that energy and those young legs?...I'd be Oprah by now.

Some times I think I'm a late bloomer, but the fact is, I wouldn't have known what to do with all this passion in my 20s. I've got more wisdom, experience, inner strength, and confidence than ever. And I'm looking forward to whole lot more (especially that "who-gives-a-damn" attitude that makes old ladies come out of their faces with whatever honest thought is in their heads, be it hilarious or hurtful). Now I've not only got fire...but I've got the know-how to take serious action. Dammit, that feels good!

So much of our culture, especially as women, is based upon recapturing lost youth. Feeling younger, looking younger, acting younger. Screw that! Don't ever lament lost youth, Mamas. We're so much better now!
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