I canceled a subscription today for a magazine which was sent to my 12-year old daughter, because I felt the content was way too inappropriate for someone her age. Did I overreact? I don’t think so.
I didn’t realize that an online purchase for my daughter Meg at a beauty supply site came with a free subscription to this magazine. It’s supposed to be a magazine about women’s health and well-being, topics which I am personally interested in. Mail was delivered mid-morning while my kids were at school, so I sat down with a cup of tea and began flipping through the pages. Although I had seen this magazine on the grocery store newsstands before, I had never really taken a look inside. I sort of wanted to survey it and make sure it was appropriate for my daughter. Good thing.
Most of the magazine is about fitness, food, and fashion with lots of glossy photos and ads. Knowing my daughter, I thought she might actually enjoy reading it. But then I stumbled upon some articles about a topic much more intimate. Way more intimate than I want for my preteen girl. Now, I’ve been married for over 20 years and am not embarrassed about the topic itself, as I believe this intimacy is a beautiful gift from God which he designed for married couples. However, it was the gory details this article went into which surprised me. For a minute, I thought I was looking at a how-to manual for, you know, the wedding night. There were a few more similar articles tucked in the middle of the magazine between fall fashion and Holiday treats.
I realize that this magazine is for grownups and not really meant for teeny boppers like Meg. For that, she should go to Tiger Beat. The beauty supply site was assuming that anyone ordering online with a credit card is an adult, so it was my fault that I didn’t catch that free subscription offer earlier. But what concerns me is that this type of magazine is readily available for anyone at the newsstands. It’s not exactly wrapped in brown paper packaging either. Why should a 12-year old — or any child, for that matter — be exposed to such intimate details? In a health magazine?
Once I became a mom, I began to look at the world differently. It’s probably that mama bear instinct in me that causes me to want to protect my kids from the big, bad world. Stuff like what I saw in that magazine is all around us — TV, internet, movies, jokes, songs. I realize I can’t shield them from those things forever, but I sure wish that their childhood can be G-rated as long they are kids. Meanwhile, I am trying to teach my kids discernment so that, in due time, they will be able to navigate themselves successfully in this world which is so often R- or even X-rated in many ways.
For starters, I’m working through this verse from Philippians with Meg:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8
I hope that Meg will spend time dwelling on pure and lovely thoughts as she continues on her journey through life. And I will do my darnest to help her along the way, even if it means canceling some magazine subscription that she would otherwise have enjoyed.
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What do you do to help your teens and preteens best navigate their adolescent years? Share with us in the comments!