I’m trying to figure out who has the biggest child-rearing dilemma at the moment: me, who’s youngest son (age 3) told his older brother (4) to “quit hitting his f-ing bike”; or my sister, whose oldest daughter (6) just informed her that she was now “diva-esque” (and when my sister inquired as to what all “diva-esque”-ness entailed, she was informed that her daughter was now in need of new shoes, new outfits, and her finger and toe nails being done).

I decided that it was my sister.

Now, this was not the first time that my children have had word issues. A couple years back, my sister and I were having a discussion about various cultural issues. Now, I don’t want to shock anyone, but every now and then, black people can get a little freer in how often we (and by we, I mean her) drop the N-bomb. We carried on our discussion, oblivious to the fact that my son was in the car with us. Next thing we hear is this sweet, perfectly innocent little voice drop the N-bomb. I turned to my biracial little boy and had to explain to his then blonde haired and blue-eyed self that unless he was wearing a shirt with my picture on it (with the caption “He’s My Daddy!” on it), he’d probably be better off not using that word. Though, thanks to his auntie’s careful enunciation, he had picked up enough in his short life to drop the ‘r’ from the end of the word. (Since I knew that I was going to mock her now, I thought it important to suck up to her in my last post.)

And I won’t even go into what we now refer to as the “Dave Chappelle Show incident” in Sunday School. But I digress.

Even though my younger boy had a similarly sweet and perfectly innocent little voice when he dropped the granddaddy of all profanity (which, sadly, caused me and the rest of my company that evening–yeah, he had to wait til other folks were around to pick up new words–to crack up with stifled laughter), he received the “words he can’t repeat” speech from his mother. My sister, on the other hand, has problems deeper than the whole “hear word/repeat” issue. She faces having to already have to unteach an attitude that her child has already adopted.

The sad reality is that commercialism feeds the popular diet: television not only reflects culture, but also exaggerates it, raising the bar in the name of relevance, then regurgitates it for easy digestion. Then there is a need for further reflection, continuing a downward cycle of reflecting and reinforcing culture, thus shaping it. This isn’t an anti-television rant, because if it were that simple, I’d just turn off the television. It’s the value system of our culture, with rampant consumerism driven by corporate sponsors and encroachments into every aspect of our lives, trying to create lifelong consumers starting from the age of four. Trying to make them brand sensitive, getting them while their minds are still unformed commercially, to gain their allegiance for the rest of their consuming life times. Talking to your kids about consumerism is like talking to them about sex: if you wait until their a teenager to teach them how to think through things, half the battle is lost.

This whole parenting thing is hard. Christmas is here and I already see my kids missing the point of the season, being turned/formed into consumers, not followers of Christ. I know that I have many battles ahead, though I thought I’d have a few years before I had to face them.

Believe me, a few bad words I can handle.

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