Our kids knew her from the Disney Channel show Wizards of Waverly Place, and soon they saw her graduate to the R-rated Spring Breakers. Like many Disney stars, her artistic expression has become more provocative with each new project.
Her name, of course, is Selena Gomez. Young people of all ages love her, and many can’t get enough of her music. Last summer her album Revival went No. 1. Her songSame Old Love is still in the Top 10, and her sensual new Hands to Myself music video is going viral.
Selena has our kids’ attention. The question is: What is she saying to them?
Last summer she released the song and video for “Good for You,” which has already been viewed literally a quarter of a billion times on YouTube. And no wonder why: it’s a provocative video. Viewers watch her shower, roll on a couch sensually and sing about how she wants to look, “Good for you.”
Forget the images for a second (even though our kids won’t), just peek at the words, a song that prompted Billboard to announce her arrival as a “grown-*ss woman”:
Gonna wear that dress you like, skin-tight
Do my hair up real, real nice
And syncopate my skin to your heart beating
‘Cause I just wanna look good for you, good for you…
Let me show you how proud I am to be yours
Leave this dress a mess on the floor…
(Good for You, Selena Gomez)
As today’s young girls are evaluating their own looks, desiring relationships with young men, and deciding how sexually intimate they will be in these relationships… how will this song resonate with them?
I can’t help but think about my own daughters’ self-esteem as they hear songs like this. My girls both grew up seeing Selena on Wizards, and even though they don’t have Selena on their playlists, they can quote her lyrics word for word because her music permeates the speakers of every grocery store, Wal-Mart and gas station in the nation.
In a world where young people are plugged into entertainment media and technology for an average of about 9 hours a day, you can count on the fact that they are watching and listening to this kind of content daily. The question today’s parents need to ask is, “Which sex talk will they remember?”
Is mom and dad’s one little sex talk two summers ago going to trump the daily “sex talks” our kids hear from our culture?
Perhaps this is why the journal Pediatrics advised that parents don’t just have one talk, but engage in multiple conversations over the course of their kids’ adolescence.
So when’s the last time you had a sex talk and chatted about sexual intimacy with your kids?
This doesn’t mean sitting them down for a long boring lecture about the birds and the bees. Please hear my emphasis when I say dialogue, not monologue.
Consider these three tips to get your teenager talking and you listening:
1. Substitute questions in place of lectures
When you encounter something questionable… which probably happens about a dozen times a day with the reach of today’s entertainment media… don’t start a rant. Ask a question instead. For example, when you see your teen noticing the Cosmo magazine headline about “Rebound Sex” by the grocery checkout stand simply recognize the opportunity for a sex talk and ask, “How do you think that’s going to work out?”
2. Exhibit an attitude of curiosity, not judgment
The best way to create a climate of continual conversations with our kids is to make them feel safe to express themselves. If we ask loaded questions like, “Is that the song that she sings naked…the little sexpot?!!” then we set our kids up to feel shut down. Instead ask, “How do you think most people will respond watching this video?” or “Is she right?” or “Does that work?” and watch how they open up to you.
3. Don’t make sex naughty
Remember that sexual intimacy isn’t a sin; it’s an amazing gift from God to be cherished for marriage. Sadly, our culture has cheapened it and declared it “no big deal,” so keep that context in mind when dialoguing about intimacy. For example, when the Cosmo headlines read, “10 Tips to Make Him Better in Bed,” maybe make a joke. “Do you think I should try these with your dad?” You’ll probably get a reaction like, “Eeeeewwwww!” or “Gross!” If so, simply ask, “What? Aren’t these sex tips for wives? Who are they for?” Help your kids understand sex can be amazing in the context of marriage.
This year all three of my kids are away at college. Each time they come home (from their Christian colleges) they share some of the conversations they are engaging in with friends, roommates and boyfriends… and I have to do my best to keep my jaw from hitting the ground. They’re talking about this stuff! In detail!
Hear me when I say that someday soon your kids are going to be making these decisions on their own. Are you engaging in conversations now equipping them to make good decisions that day?
*Jonathan McKee is the author of over a dozen books including the brand new More Than Just The Talk, Helping Parents Become Their Kids Go-To Person About Sex