Parents, beware — exposure to the content and language of television and social media may be harmful to your children’s emotional and psychological health.
Having pioneered the necessity for our children to be sexually literate, I feel betrayed, not by the irresponsible behavior of vulnerable youth, but by the incomprehensible debasement of respectful relationships of so called pillars of society, “luminaries” chosen by the people to light the moral and ethical way of the future, especially our children.
Where have all the honorable people gone? Are there no more role models for our children?
There was a time when we coveted and respected the mantles of leadership. Never had I anticipated that I would have to shield my grandchildren from political leaders’ public interchange. Never had I imagined that I would have to negate the degenerate behavior and crude dialogue of representatives of our social norms and sexual mores.
As a child, the highest aspiration was to become president, a lofty goal that lived in the realm of fantasy, one reserved for the nation’s elite. A generation ago, when I fought fierce, divisive opposition to initiate a sensitive formalized sexuality curriculum, naysayers reduced the intent to merely a mechanical exercise of body parts, viewed as an invitation for unbridled exploitation. Their myopic perspective dismissed the fact that such a curriculum was far more expansive, including self worth and mutual respect, kindness, caring, embracement of body images, identity and sex roles. It provided a safe place to rehearse when and how to say No to inappropriate language and sexual misbehavior. This venue nurtured respect and understanding as well recognizing the risks, expectations, rewards and possible disappointment associated with saying Yes.
With sexual literacy, children acquired the confidence to set limitations and goals. They found their own voices and the appropriate vocabulary to express feelings, beliefs and desires without the fear of peer pressure or an abusive backlash.
Learning to protect themselves from others’ pressure, offensive and demoralizing words for behavior was based on compassion, empathy and honesty, without compromising their best version of themselves or their desire to be popular.
Armed with the skills to preserve their authenticity, they had gained the wisdom to recognize the spiritual building blocks of a simple friendship to the progressive nurturing of an intimate relationship.
Today, when we look to many of those who represent our country, we see a plethora of tabloid headlines.
We see their deviant behavior on television and in the social media. They are corrupted by their drive for privileged aggrandizement.
The behavior is too disgraceful and dehumanizing for our beautiful innocent youth to see. They look to us as their teachers, authority figures and role models to emulate in creating personal relational ideals and attitudes.
Our generation must turn this moment into a golden opportunity by assuming our inherent role as our children's primary sexuality educators. Walk the walk, and talk the talk.
Lynn Leight is past chair of Miami-Dade County Commission on the Status of Women and the author of “Raising Sexually Healthy Children.”